Thursday, September 22, 2005

Like I Was Saying

From Big Media Matt (via Digby):

WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH MISSISSIPPI? Apropos of nothing in particular, take a look at the exit poll data from Mississippi, where George W. Bush picked up the votes of 85 percent of the white population and just 10 percent of the African-American vote. In a state whose electorate is 65-percent white, that led to a hefty 60-40 win for the incumbent. Mississippi's an unusually stark case, but not all that much of an outlier.

Georgia saw 75 percent of whites and 12 percent of blacks pull the lever for Bush.

It was 75-9 in Louisiana, 78-15 in South Carolina, and a comparatively minor 63-6 in Arkansas (generally speaking, whites are most monolithically Republican in the least-white states like Mississippi and more open to Democrats in whiter states like Arkansas).

All of which is just to say that an awful lot of the post-election talk about "culture" and its impact on voting serves to obscure the extent to which a lot of politics is about race.

In Mississippi, Bush got a larger percentage of the vote from people who "somewhat dissaprove" of his administration than he did from black voters.

He did better among self-identified Democrats than he did among blacks, and far better (23 percent against 10 percent) among self-identified liberals than with non-whites.

I'm not sure exactly what follows from that, and I appreciate that commentators don't like to raise the point in order to avoid just engaging in naive allegations of racism, but it's really, really not possible to understand the politics of the South without delving into this stuff.

If you will recall, I posted about the racial characteristics of last fall's election in the south, some time ago, but Matt goes further with it than I did.

Now, it probably should be pointed out that these exit polling numbers should be viewed as not-quite-gospel accurate. If you look at the exit polls from all the states you'll stumble across some rather remarkable figures, and in some states, there were not adequate numbers of black or other minority voters to even figure into the final count, so the sampling and weighting of these poll numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Nonetheless, the continued racial impact on voting in the South goes a long way to explaining election outcomes and the public policy that results, such as the bizarre anti-labor, anti-working class efforts of southern representatives, including the president's Gulf Coast Wage Cut plan of post-hurricane reconstruction.

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