Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope Schmope

Hosertohoosier has a more cynical take on the US election, which is worth reposting here, simply because he makes some really good points. If you'd rather just feel good about democracy for a change, I'd go check out this instead, and stop reading now.

1. This election confirms the persistence of considerable racial divisions.

Look at exit poll numbers from Alabama (it was similar across the south).

White voters 88-10 for McCain
Black voters 98-2 for Obama

Race is a better predictor of how one voted than party ID! So racial divisions are surely there, you just won't find them by asking people "are you racist?"

2. Obama had a Karl Rove strategy. For all the talk about expanding the base, Obama's increases came largely among groups that already backed the Democrats: young people, hispanic voters and African Americans. This coupled with a tightly scripted, low press access campaign is the left wing version of Rove 101 (expand the base till you hit 51-52%). Obama has a rather poor record as a bridge-builder and, frankly, has no incentives to reach out to Republicans, since the Dems have control of congress.

In fact, I would argue that it is congress that will be more moderate than Obama. Obama didn't have coat-tails - the Democrats won 54-44 in congressional races, while Obama only won by 5 points. This also means that Democratic congressmen/women are winning in more conservative areas.

3. Hundreds of billions into deficit, America just fought an election framed around a series of meta-narratives and a debate over whether to cut taxes or cut taxes more. America has the same media, the same political institutions, the same everything - I just don't see how a "new politics" magically appears (McCain or Clinton certainly wouldn't have done so). That is unfortunate, because it implies America's decline will continue (the rest of the world may relish that briefly, but not after pondering the consequences of that).

Whatever happens over the next two years or so, however, is about to get crowned as the new magic formula for economics. A recovery that would happen anyway is about to be credited with whatever policies are enacted, so the issues matter a great deal. They just didn't get a lot of airtime (one of McCain's dumbest moves too - he made up ground when he talked about 1. the surge 2. offshore oil drilling, he did badly with his stupid life story tour in early summer 2008.

4. I really don't think symbols matter. Policies matter. I fail to see how Obama's election makes anything but symbolic progress on the racial equality issue, and can see how the opposite could happen. On CNN Bill Bennett (who is kind of an asshole) spun Obama's election as an argument against affirmative action, for instance (I am not a big fan of affirmative action, but Bennett's reasoning is part of the dangerous "America elected a black president and is therefore not racist" way of thinking).

5. It matters how a party loses. The GOP was licked pretty hard, but remains able to win if the Democrats face scandals or recessions (the reverse of the past 40 years). The primary system, where the party base drives candidate selection, fueled more by ideological purity than winnability (the latter produces moderate candidates, which dominated American politics in the convention days). The Republicans need to reinvent themselves, but I can almost hear the chant already:
-"we lost because we weren't Republican enough - we need to hate minorities more"
-The booing of Obama at McCain's rallies and concession speech are a sign of such divisions, certainly encouraged by candidate McCain, but abetted by the likes of Matt Drudge.

To the above, I would add that the good people of Alaska appear to have re-elected a convict. WTF?



  • CG,

    Thanks for highlighting this POV. I didn't read the original post because I find that it isn't worth reading H2O's work.

    Having read this piece of work, I disagree with it. It is a denial of the changing landscape in America.

    Look at the first proposition. Yes, Alabama does show racial traits. I think the point is that Obama won in places where he was able to overcome racial issues among non-blacks.

    Obama could not have won a landslide on the basis of minority support. Certainly not on the basis of black and left-wing support alone. The fact is that Obama was able to carry the black vote without alienating huge sections among the whites and Hispanics.

    Is Obama's victory important to the nation's cultural narration. Yes! It shows that a black man with a base in South Chicago can speak for the mainstream. Therefore, any black man can succeed if he is willing to speak for the mainstream.

    Note that Obama didn't campaign as Uncle Tom. He campaigned as a black man with a black heritage that came with baggage like Reverent Wright. This is an important narration of political synthesis.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 7:02 p.m.  

  • I'm waiting for Elizabeth May to tell us how the first-past-the-post, winner take all system for the electoral college is unfair. Why should Obama get all the electoral votes in Indiana or Florida? All states should divide up the electoral college like Maine does to make more votes count.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 7:15 p.m.  

  • I would disagree that racial tensions still exist strongly. Yes, in the South it is clear race matter a lot, but lets remember Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire all went solidly for Obama and they are over 95% white. It seems it is more of an issue in the South than the US as a whole. Part of the reason Obama carried Virginia and Florida is they have many transplated Northeastern whites unlike Alabama. As important as the Black vote is, Obama wouldn't be able to win any state without a sizeable chunk of the white vote. He may not have to get over 50%, but he certainly has to get at least 1/3 and in most cases well over 40%. If anything it seems the big change was in the suburbs and small cities much like Canada albeit the other away around. Rural America went mostly for McCain, but the suburbs and smaller cities is where Obama gained. For example the Denver suburbs which normally go Republican and the DC suburbs in Virginia which also normally go Republican is what put Obama over the top in both states. Likewise the Philadelphia suburbs ensured his victory in Pennsylvania where he won by large margins.

    By Blogger Monkey Loves to Fight, at 7:21 p.m.  

  • Just to add to the racial divide thing.. i was just watching on tv.. they were giving stats, and apparently obama got a larger percentage of the white vote than both kerry and gore... so that's some food for thought.

    By Blogger m5slib, at 8:18 p.m.  

  • "The GOP was licked pretty hard"

    Was it? What was the popular vote in 2004? 51-48. In 2008? 46-53. Sure, it's a five point swing, but the Democrat victory was only 2 points greater than the Republican victory four years ago. Does that really constitute a "thumping"? Seems to me the Democrats felt "cheated" in 2004 for being so close to victory, and didn't feel they were handed their second-worst electoral result since Confederation.

    Now consider who voted this time, who historically hasn't voted. In particular, Black voters have historically been under-represented among voters when compared with their proportion of the general eligible population (about 10%, IIRC). And that group of voters turned out in large numbers in this election, and overwhelmingly voted for Obama.

    It's not difficult to posit that this election turned primarily on motivating that single block of voters to cast their ballots, while the remaining voters pretty much stayed with their existing party loyalties.

    I would suggest that this small factor, together with the geographic distribution of those voters (FL, PA, OH make a big difference), gave us the historic result we saw yesterday.

    And that even excludes any "Bush factor" from the discussion - surely pundits would suggest that alone should swing about 10 or 20% of voters from the Elephants of the Grand Old Party to the Party of the Donkey.

    Now, if the election was as close as I suggest above, what does that say about Race in America today? Perhaps that in this instance it only mattered to a select few?

    By Blogger Paul, at 8:28 p.m.  

  • HtoH usually has interesting things to say; personally I disagree with him a bit here.

    There is racism in the US still, but the racial divides are coming down further all the time, in my personal opinion. Most Americans are cool about race, unless they're anxious about appearing or being racist. More whites voted for Obama than the last two candidates. I think the US has come a long, long, long way, and it's going to keep going.

    I think Obama's election is more than symbolism, and more than affirmative action. He got some extra votes for being black, I'm sure he lost some votes for being black. He is vague on policy, but his message moved me greatly -- if he was in John Edwards' body saying the same things with the same attitude, I'd still support him. I can't believe I'm the only one out there who thinks that way. He won because his demeanour and message had more appeal. And overall, I think you misunderestimate the power of symbols. After Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, all children know that they, too, really can be President. Children are the future, and symbols change the way the future views itself and relates to the world around it. Obama's win and Clinton's campaign have altered these kids' worldviews forever.

    I agree about the deficit; it's going to be damn tough to dig out of it.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 9:08 p.m.  

  • Here's a thought, I'm old enough to remember the night that Pierre Trudeau lost to Joe Clark. They booed during his concession speech too. While I'm more than happy to argue that the Trudeau Liberals were unfit to govern, I expect I'd get a fight over it.

    H2H needs to do some politics in real time. It provides a world of perspective.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:45 p.m.  

  • Would Obama have won if he was white?
    Same person, same experience? He wouldn't have even won the nomination. Arguable the man won only because he is black. With the increased turnout going all to him, hardly anyone flipped from the past two elections.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:57 p.m.  

  • White voters 88-10 for McCain
    Black voters 98-2 for Obama

    It's more than a little misleading to quote this figure on its own. Here's the same numbers from 2004:

    White voters 80-19 for Bush
    Black voters 91-6 for Kerry

    So if you can say anything based on the exit polls, it's that at most, 8% of whites and 7% of blacks voted for racist reasons. And that's in Alabama. And it's only if you ignore all the legitimate reasons to vote for or against the various candidates.

    And to puncture a few other myths about this election:

    1) Once again, there was no significant surge in youth turnout. In 2000 and 2004, 17% of voters were under 30; this year, it was 18%.
    2) Overall turnout was flat or slightly lower than 2004.
    3) Sarah Palin apparently wasn't a drag on the ticket. Among those who said that she was a factor in their decision, McCain won 52-47.
    4) According to the Washington Post, in 2004 Bush got 31% of his money from small donations under $200. Kerry got 37% of his money that way. As for Obama 2008? Only 25%.

    Personally, I was very surprised by #4, moderately surprised by #2, and not at all surprised by 1 and 3.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 a.m.  

  • Here's food for thought.

    You didn't live in the US for the past 8 years. I did.

    Last night was huge in changing the trajectory of the US.

    There was a reason people were out on the streets at 1:00 in the morning in DC, just happy to be free. Spontaneous rallies around the country. Not the normal reaction one sees from a Presidential election.

    And to puncture some of your own myths.

    Last night was higher turnout than 2004 - one "expert" said otherwise, in contradiction of the numbers. Votes are still be counted, as there was an incredible number of provisional and still uncounted absentee ballots.

    Youth vote was up tremendously in the battleground states, over 20% which is almost unheard of in American politics.

    I just don't get the negativity. McCain wanted to win in the "worst" way, and he nearly did. The fact that the US finally rejected that mode of politics is very positive.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:15 a.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:04 a.m.  

  • CG, thanks for the honour of posting my comments.

    Miles Lunn, if you look at how Obama did both in the primaries and in the general election, you are right that he did well in many places that are mostly white - but poorly among whites in areas with a large black population. There is a reason Jim Pankiw came from Saskatoon, and David Duke from from Louisiana - racists aren't afraid of minorities that don't exist. You see that same relationship around the world in the statistical work on intrastate warfare - there is a u-shaped relationship between the concentration of ethnic groups and conflict.

    In Pennsylvania you can see that in terms of class, rather than race. Obama won white college graduates by 5 points, while losing white non-college graduates by 15 points. Now, typically college grads work with and live with and go to school with other college grads, and vice versa for non-college grads.

    I lived in America for the past 3 years (and still do), in a state that just went for the Dems for the first time since 1964.

    I don't think Obama's candidacy changes America's trajectory because, even if his coalition is different from Bush's, his approach is the same. He did not win by building a grand coalition of centrists. He won by dramatically increasing turnout among his base - the same thing Bush did.

    So insofar as American politics are defined by deep partisanship and 51-49 politics, I would expect that to continue unless:

    1. The Republicans manage to build a new coalition. Looking at the results of the California and Florida gay marriage bans suggests something. The two basic components of Obama's coalition are deadset against each other on that issue (young whites are 67-33 against the ban, African Americans are 70-30 for the ban). Expunging racism and really talking to African Americans (and other, generally socially conservative minority groups) seems promising for the GOP as a long-term strategy (alternately they could outflank Obama by supporting gay marriage - obviously that is unlikely).

    2. I could see, maybe 10-15 years from now, Obama's coalition of African Americans, students (who won't be students any more) and traditional Democrats producing a supermajority like Reagan and Bush sr. had in the 80's.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 2:13 a.m.  

  • A couple more corrections on your post:

    The Senate races will ultimately yield a 5-seat gain for the Democrats (Oregon a likely additional pick-up even assuming the Republicans hold Georgia in a run-off and Minnesota in a recount).

    That comes on top of a 6-seat pick-up in 2004. An 11 seat swing in the Senate in 2 years is almost unprecedented in US History.

    The Senate is purposely designed as a more "consistent" body so to have that type of swing in membership is amazing. In every instance, the Democrat replacing the Republican is more moderate - sometimes vastly so. And in many cases, their election is due to moderation in the states they represent more than the new members being more conservative themselves, which is what you imply.

    Many issues were held back in the past 2 years by small numbers that kept them from reaching a 60-point cut-off of filibusters.. For example, stem cell research legislation would have passed with just two more votes. Those votes now exist. And with a Democratic President, the Democrats will be able to drive the agenda so issues that have made no progress such as energy policy (including alternative energy and carbon reduction) can now be on the agenda, passed, and not face immediate veto from an unyielding President.

    In the House, nearly 2 dozen seats will be picked up by the Democrats, on top of the 30 they picked up in the last election. Again, that means a shift of over 50 seats in 2 years, which is incredible.

    And I won't even try to list all of state-houses that have shifted to a Democratic control in the past few elections, again demonstrating the shifting of the pendulum across the nation. The one I will note is New York state, where for the first time in 40 years, the Democrats will control the Governorship, Senate, and House. That means the same-sex marriage legislation that stalled last year in the Republican Senate may well become law within a year. That will be a nice way of tempering the horrid loss on the ballot initiative in California last night.

    I just think you should understand how the US government works a bit better before you make such shallow observations about what transpired last evening.

    There has been a dam preventing progress for 8 years. That dam collapsed yesterday, and it did so in dramatic fashion.

    Yes, there are challenges. But the US has faced worth and snapped back in strong form. I have a feeling we are about to witness that again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:19 a.m.  

  • So it is clear you actually don't know what you are talking about.

    Please lay out the great super-majority of the late 80s you're trying to peddle. I'm just dying to hear the details on that mythology.

    REAGAN was popular and won a large majority in the Presidential race of 1984, but even as doing so he lost 2 seats of the Republican controlled Senate (55 seats down to 53). By the "late 80s" the pendulum had swung even further and Democrats controlled the Senate 55-45 (an 8-seat swing in a single election of 1988 giving Democrats control of the institution). So there was no sweeping Republican super-majority at any time in the late 80s. You wanting it to be that way to fit your thesis doesn't make it so. Sorry to disappoint you with irksome facts.

    Another tidbit of the "sweeping" overturn of same-sex marriage in California was the vote was 52-42. You could just as easily argue the over 65 vote pushed the margin so that situation may resolve itself in about 10 years. You may hope that gathering people's prejudices into one voting pool will yield some great new "center," (ala Rove), but history shows you'll probably be wrong. Strange you should use an election that mostly dispelled that belief as an example of why it works so well.

    Perhaps you should attempt to become more prejudiced towards the use of facts over fiction. That would be a truly progressive movement I could get behind.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:43 a.m.  

  • How do you know where I live?

    Last night was higher turnout than 2004 - one "expert" said otherwise, in contradiction of the numbers. Votes are still be counted, as there was an incredible number of provisional and still uncounted absentee ballots.

    Bush + Kerry: 121,069,054
    Obama + McCain: 120,469,772 (98% reporting)
    Obama + McCain: 122,928,339 (adjusted to 100%)

    Given the increase in population over the past four years, I doubt that works out to a percentage increase. And even if special ballots put it over the top as you say, it won't be by very much.

    Youth vote was up tremendously in the battleground states, over 20% which is almost unheard of in American politics.

    Florida: 17% 2004, 15% 2008
    Ohio: 21% 2004, 17% 2008
    Pennsylvania: 21% 2004, 18% 2008
    Virginia: 17% 2004, 21% 2008
    North Carolina: 14% 2004, 18% 2008
    Missouri: 20% 2004, 21% 2008
    Indiana: 14% 2004, 19% 2008
    New Mexico: 17% 2004, 21% 2008
    Colorado: 17% 2004, 16% 2008
    Nevada: 16% 2004, 17% 2008
    Iowa: 17% 2004, 17% 2008

    Only four out of eleven swing states could be said to have any significant gain. The big three all went down.

    And only the most extreme partisans wouldn't see that both candidates attacked the other.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:20 a.m.  

  • I hate all these contextless statistics being bandied about to prove various tenuous points.

    I find turnout percentage stats not very useful, given that they don't accurately reflect what I would consider to be turnout.

    That's because the state-by-state turnout stats are based on the number of registered voters, not on the population of eligible voters.

    Look at Virginia, for instance. 3,223,156 voted in 2004 and 3,474,202 voted in 2008. That's approximately an 8% increase in turnout, right?

    Well, no, because registered voters increased from 4.5m to 5m between 2004 and 2008.

    So even though 250,000 more people voted in 2008 than 2004 in Virginia, officially voter turnout went down from 71.3% to 69%.

    (These numbers are all from Virginia State Board of Elections.)

    As for making sweeping statements about racial division based on exit polls - exit polls, people - in a single state like Alabama, that's even less useful. I think the most telling stat that I've heard is that a higher percentage of whites across the country voted for Obama than any Democratic candidate since Carter.

    Saying that racial division persists in the USA is a truism. But saying that race played a negative or positive role in this election - difficult to prove.

    By Blogger J. Kelly, at 10:02 a.m.  

  • Arguable the man won only because he is black.

    People responded to Obama's message, not his race. Jesse Jackson could not have defeated Hillary Clinton, or John McCain. I doubt Shirley Chisholm could have triumphed over McCain. Does the anonymous poster think Al Sharpton could have carried the election? No one serious believes that Obama won because of his race -- I doubt the commenter even believes that.

    It's an extra bonus, sure, to see a black man take office. But to think Obama won simply because he's black -- I just don't see it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:19 a.m.  

  • As great as your blog is Dan, sometimes H2H's comments are even better. I always look through the comments hoping he's got something. Thanks for featuring it!

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:23 a.m.  

  • Some parting thoughts:

    I see no one is going to recognize I correctly established fact over fiction on the mythological late 80s scenarios being presented for some type of fictional comparison to what has transpired in the US over the past 2 years. People can have opinions, but I absolutely hate it when people just spew bull in order to create a narrative they "wish" had existed.

    Secondly, the 100% voting statistic above is further fiction. The 98% represents % of RIDINGS reporting initial tallies, not a precise percentage of FINAL tally of votes. Strangely, ridings with large populations tend to come in later so the 2% outstanding most certainly represents a larger per precinct count of votes than the previous vote per precinct in the previous 98%. Furthermore, several states are still counting absentee and provisional ballots, which aren't allocated in many of the tallies at this point. There is a reason certification comes days and in some cases weeks later.

    So it is an act of foolishness to present a "fact" to "prove" some comparison to 2004 at this point.

    So sorry, but we don't have the tally of voters in this election less than 18 hours after the final polls closed. Hate to burst your bubble and expose another fiction.

    This discussion in a hypothetical sense if just fine with me. It's the blatant stripping, twisting, and regurgitating of fales facts that makes my blood boil. Stop lying to further your opinions.

    I suggest you focus your studies on your Poly Sci history curriculum. You're clearly acing the spin training at this point.

    Lastly, I don't know or really care where you live. But I assume if someone is throwing around false US histories or doing things like suggesting "Congress" consists of just the Senate, that person either 1) doesn't understand the US government or 2) brush up a bit before posting opinions on the matter.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 p.m.  

  • Actually,I do have one additional thought.

    The final comparison of this race will come when all the votes are tallied across the nation, and a percentage of "eligible" (not registered) voters is calculated.

    But there is no dispute by objective observers, based on where the tally is now and reasonable - even conservative - projections of the final tally, that this election will see the highest percentage of eligible voters since at least 1964, possibly 1960. Before that, you'd have to go back to 1908; but no one expects that record to be beat at this point. It does make me wonder what was going on in 1908 that attracted so many to the polls. I might have to research that.

    The bottom line is the spin is already afoot by some to minimize the achievement of this election. Fine, minimize away. Spin spin spin to your heart's desire.

    But stick to the facts. Bullshit smells bad on anyone.

    wv - rewin: Is that what happens when a candidate still prevails in a recount? ; )

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:58 p.m.  

  • Check this page in about a month and see where 2008 turns out. Nothing from 2008 final election is on the site at this point (as votes are still being tallied):

    The site also gives great explanations of voter turnout of voting age population vs eligible voter turnout as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:11 p.m.  

  • "But to think Obama won simply because he's black -- I just don't see it"

    Would the same man won if he was white?

    I don't think so

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 p.m.  

  • 1. Voter turnout
    It looks like voter turnout is going to be up, at about 133 million. That is a much smaller increase than the increase in 2004, yet nobody talked about fundamental changes in the electorate then. Bush and Kerry didn't get accolades for being post-partisan Christ figures.

    2. Historical change
    I do think America is changing in fundamental ways - I think looking at 2008 (or Obama as a critical figure in this) as the pivot misses the boat, however. I see 2000-2008 as the next 1960-1968 - it is where the coalitions were forged that set the stage for the next era of politics.

    In 1964 a popular Johnson won an easy victory, but interestingly, Goldwater capitalized on Johnson's civil rights positions and swung the heart of the Democratic solid south (which had also disliked Kennedy). So increasingly, the Democrats picked up African American voters, while the Republicans picked up white Southerners, and won 7/10 elections since 1968.

    The making of Obama's victory has been in the making since at least 1992. Clinton's presidency did a few key things: 1. welfare reform 2. a tough crime bill 3. laid the foundations for the information economy. These were key things because they took away the main tools for racial politics ("tough on crime" has long been a code word for "I don't like black people" in the US).

    Secondly, in an information economy, you get an economic transition that produces fewer and fewer blue collar jobs (the information technology revolution would have happened without Clinton, but his policies surely aided it).

    So then you get George W. Bush who explicitly appeals to traditionally Democratic working class voters. The Southern Conservatives that were once a convenient addendum to the Republican coalition had taken over the party. Bush's spendthrift policies and his party's anti-intellectual posturing has produced a very down-market GOP that is no longer competitive in places like New Jersey or Connecticut, but wins in West Virginia.

    The basic coalition that Obama has behind him was already in place for Kerry in 2004 - it was just a bit smaller and more angry than inspired (Obama successfully inspired them).

    History is on Obama's side - his core - upper middle class folks with postmaterial values - are likely to grow over time. That growth, however, is going to be gradual, and will probably face setbacks. What I think is critical here, is not Obama, but underlying shifts in demography that have been apparent since the mid-90's.

    3. Reagan and the 80's

    Joseph, Reagan also won a large majority in 1980 and swung a large number of seats in congress with him. Enough to give him a policy majority because of Boll Weevil Democrats (Conservative Southern Democrats that voted mostly with the GOP). Contract with America was not the revolution it was made out to be, because in many cases Republicans were winning in places formerly represented by very conservative Democrats (it was more revolutionary in its restoration of party discipline).

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 3:43 p.m.  

  • In 1980, Reagan did bring in a huge turnover of the Senate - a pick-up of 12 seats. In 1982 he lost two senate seast in mid-elections. In 1980, Reagan also brought with him 30 more Republican seats into Congress, but the Dems re-gained 27 seats two years later. So for 1980 and 1982 elections:

    Net Swing: Senate +10 Republican
    Net Swing: House +3 Republican

    Compare that with the 2-year period 2006 & 2008:

    Net Swing: Senate +11 Dems*
    Net Swing: House +51 Dems*

    * Minimum - 3 Senate seats & 8 House seats not yet called.

    So the massive sweep still wasn't there, even if you now say the shift was in the early 80s instead of the late 80s.

    I agree with you that Reagan was successful in passing his agenda due in large part to the southern Dems, and I agree that coalition is what in retrospect became the basis of the Republican sweeps in 1994. The main issue I have had in this entire discussion is the fiction being promoted when comparison this election unfavorably to events in the 1980s. It is just not valid to use any observable facts from that period to minimize the shift that has transpired during the past 2 US elections. By any measure, there has been a substantial realignment of voting patterns more favorable to the Democrats. To claim otherwise is just blatantly false.

    I don't believe Obama is a "Christ figure" as you presume. I am just pointing out the falsehoods being laid out about this election compared to past elections in general or the 1980s specifically.

    The real significance of this election (especially when coupled with 2006) is a clear move away from the evenly divided elections of 2000 and 2004. For the moment at least - and historic moments can swiftly fly by and disappear - it appears a more moderate and even somewhat progressive vision has captured the attention of the electorate. It may not prove to be a transformational election - as I agree 1980 was - but it is certainly a far different vision than in 2002 when the Republicans and many analysts were declaring a "new Republican majority" had been born across the country, one expected to last a generation.

    I guess that new generation grew up mighty fast.

    I say all of this truly appreciating your last comment. I think you got it right overall.

    Good use of facts . . . I like that ; ).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:04 p.m.  

  • Just out of interest... in 1996 Clinton beat Dole by a similar margin (8 points) to the margin by which Obama beat McCain. What is striking is how different Obama's 8-point win is from Clinton's:

    18-29 year olds: Clinton +20
    65+ voters: Clinton +6
    Union voters: Clinton +30
    African Americans: Clinton +72
    Hispanic: Clinton +52
    White: Clinton -2
    >100K voters: Clinton -15
    50-75k voters: Clinton +1
    15-30k voters: Clinton + 17

    18-29 year olds: Obama +34
    65+: Obama -8
    Union voters: Obama +20
    African Americans: Obama +91
    Hispanic: Obama +36
    Asian: Obama +27
    White: Obama -12
    15-30k voters: Obama +23
    50-75k voters: McCain +1
    >100k voters: Obama + 0

    What you see is a country less divided by class - union voters decreasingly vote Democrat, wealthy voters increasingly do so.

    In terms of race and age, by contrast, there is increasing polarization.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 7:35 p.m.  

  • Okay, it turns out turnout is only slightly improved from 2004:

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 9:40 p.m.  

  • That's an interesting report. I appreciated the write-up and additional trends data they included.

    I still think folks should give it a week or two before jumping to any conclusions. This analysis appears to assume post-election counting follows normal past patterns, when it appears from everything I've seen and read that states were striving to be prepared with more provisional and on-site ballots after the fiasco of the last couple of elections. Everything I've read today - regardless of state or race - seems to be prefacing their reports on the fact that thousands of votes are still being counted in various manual processes across the country.

    Their analysis may end up being correct, but they may also end up being low on their final projected tally.

    I still say give it a month, and then see what the final analysis shows. Considering that 2004 was the highest turn-out in over two decades, increasing that margin at all would still be notable.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:07 p.m.  

  • J. Kelly, I completely agree with you that the exit polls can't be used to prove racial division, hence why I said "only if you ignore all the legitimate reasons to vote for or against the various candidates". And I gave the exit poll numbers to show that even if they could be used that way, they don't in this particular instance.

    I also agree that "percentage of registered voters" is a bad way to calculate turnout, which I why I just gave the absolute number, with a caveat for population increase.

    Joseph: An 11 seat swing in the Senate in 2 years is almost unprecedented in US History.

    The Senate is purposely designed as a more "consistent" body so to have that type of swing in membership is amazing.

    Not exactly. Check out the chart on this page. Big swings are more a rule than an exception. The Republicans gained eight seats in 1994 and twelve seats in 1980, while the Democrats gained 8 in 1986. 2006/2008 combined appear to be above average, but hardly "amazing" or "almost unprecedented".

    Secondly, the 100% voting statistic above is further fiction.
    So it is an act of foolishness to present a "fact" to "prove" some comparison to 2004 at this point.

    Maybe, maybe not. However, it was the best data available at the time, and H2H's last link further strengthens it. You have provided absolutely no evidence to back up your claim that it increased.

    This discussion in a hypothetical sense if just fine with me. It's the blatant stripping, twisting, and regurgitating of fales facts that makes my blood boil. Stop lying to further your opinions.

    I suggest you focus your studies on your Poly Sci history curriculum. You're clearly acing the spin training at this point.

    Lastly, I don't know or really care where you live. But I assume if someone is throwing around false US histories or doing things like suggesting "Congress" consists of just the Senate

    I never claimed anything of the sort. In fact, until this post I never said anything about Congress or the Senate at all. (Who's the liar here?)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:13 a.m.  

  • Invisible Hand,

    Not all of my comments were addressing your specific comments.

    But to answer your recent comments to me.

    1. I concede my opinion (which I'm still entitled to by the way) could have been clarified by saying "in recent history." Even the 1980 example you gave of a 12-seat swing ended with that election. In the 1982 election the Senate counts remained the same and began to fall off in the subsequent elections.

    So the 12 seats gained at this point (3 races still undecided but I expect the Republicans will hold them narrowly) still matches the best example you provided for Senate gains over a 2-year period. Considering all the hype about Republican electoral advantages for the next generation just a few short years ago, I stand by my assessment that what has instead happened in the past two elections is indeed "amazing" (live with it . . . I'm not the only one with that opinion).

    The bottom line is my response was in direct response to a claim that Reagan and Bush 1 had produced a "super-majority" in Washington in the late 80s, and that that "fact" somehow showed that Obama and the Democrats wins weren't that impressive. That claim was false (and remains so). By the late 80s, the congressional pendulum had swung back to the Democrats even as the Republicans held the White House.

    Incidentally, we could very well witness a swing to the Republicans in the next few years as they re-gain their footing. But I'm not the one on here making reference to some fictional "super-majority" int the late 80s that never existed. I simply pointed out that reference point was false.

    2. The 100% voting number you gave (with great precision I might add) remains pure fiction. Oops, I said it again. To prove my point, you now claim "Maybe, maybe not." You were the one who stated a precise number even as votes continue to be tallied.

    But if you really want some "proof," simply refer to the two links in the above comments, one of which projects a marginal increase over 2004 while the other which projects a larger increase over 2004.

    Both project higher voter turn-out in 2006. You, on the other hand, extrapolated out percentages to arrive at a deceptive and incorrect "100% tally" that no one else has.

    You made a false statement. I just pointed it out. I don't have to "prove" what the final tally will be because I never claimed to know it. In fact, I've stated multiple times now that we won't know for several weeks. But all signs - again referencing the two links provided in this discussion - still point to a larger turn-out than in 2004, which itself saw an impressive turn-out, the likes of which had not been seen in over 3 decades.

    3. Here is a quote from the initial post:

    "the Democrats won 54-44 in congressional races"

    No, you didn't say anything on the matter. But then I wasn't addressing your comment. In fact, the entire quote you provide was addressing other claims that had been made in the original post and in H2H's initial comments.

    I stand by them.

    I stumbled upon a post that was based on supposed facts, many of which were false or purposefully misleading, clearly to minimize an election most see to be historic, if not transformational. I call that spin.

    So I pointed out the incorrect "facts" that were being tossed about to further that spin.

    So I'm pleased as can be that you and H2H have had to actually provide real data. And I'm also happy the more blatant falsehoods that were originally presented as "evidence" to minimize the nature of this election have been called out.

    I don't if this election is truly transformational or not. But at least I'm willing to wait and see how it plays out, rather than start pounding away false information within 24 hours of the polls closing in some attempt to prove it isn't.

    That's more than you or H2H can say.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:27 p.m.  

  • One interesting aspect of this discussion is I actually think you and H2H have brought up very good points regarding the general nature of this election. I think it is proper to point out the glossy images of hope and progress may prove to be illusions and can mask issues that linger beneath the surface.

    Those points were simply lost on me initially because clearly misleading or incorrect data was being presented in some attempt to prove the point.

    It appeared to me to be a blatant attempt at spin, and I reacted to that. I grow increasingly disgusted by the blatant revisionist historical references people use to try to justify their opinions or make their points. When done in the media, all you can do is flip the channel or glare at the screen (as you plead hopelessly for a reporter to actually confront the inaccuracy).

    Not so in the great blogosphere and utilizing the remarkable communication technologies offered by "the internets" ;). I just took advantage of that option in this case.

    Have a good day!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:14 p.m.  

  • Incidentally, here is CNNs reporting on the turnout as determined by the Center for the Study of the American Electric.

    Interestingly, even though they present the item with a question mark on whether there was increased turnout, the data provided shows an estimate of over 130 million will be tallied by the time all is said and done, representing a 2% increase than in 2004. They also expect youth vote will show a 1% increase overall.

    They do point out that the increase was not greater because of Republicans who didn't turn out. The increase was almost entirely due to increased Democratic turnout.

    But the bottom line is they project an increase.

    So with the 3 reference points now - the two listed in comments above and this new one, I think we can assume your 100% projection to fall a bit short. Looks like the range of the three falls somewhere between 126 million and 133 million votes, all of which exceed the 2004 tally by a much greater amount than you projected.


    Yet I again will say we won't really know until 2 or 3 weeks from now - which was my point all along in reaction to folks scrambling to "prove" a disappointing turnout.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:57 p.m.  

  • No one may ever see this. Good spin is Great Spin if no one will be paying attention when the truth is revealed.

    But I still thought it might be important to lay out the final tallies:

    For the record, the 2008 elections did exceed 2004 elections, by a fair margin actually - contrary to the spin being put out on Nov 5 (less than a day after the polls closed).

    Ends up voter turnout was notably up in 2008 compared to 2004, placing the 2008 election as the highest voting turnout since 1968 (about on par with that election).

    So much for the spin being widely peddled on Nov 5 that the election turnout was not any better than 2004. Good spin is Great Spin if you know no one will be paying any attention when the real facts come out ;).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:05 p.m.  

  • Here is the specific 2008 data:

    And here is the main page showing the chart for the past several decades:

    Not bad, huh? Approximately 132 Million votes nationwide. Guess Politico and the Republican blogs were wrong.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:06 p.m.  

  • It can't really have success, I feel so.

    By Anonymous tablet pc tienda, at 4:51 p.m.  

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