Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Different Virginia

Webb keeps picking up momentum in his race against George Allen.  Webb's fundraising - a sore point early on - has been quite successful, and the DSCC has come into the race with a substantial buy.  And now Allen is up over Webb by only 49-47, which is within the margin of error.

Allen gets 49 percent, compared with 47 percent for Webb, within the 3 percentage point margin of error for the poll conducted over three days last week. With few respondents saying they are undecided and most seemingly locked in for their candidate, the poll indicates that the candidates' strategies for turning out supporters will be vital and that changes in the national political climate could tilt the outcome.

There are some interesting themes here.

1) Virginia seems to be two separate states, a mid-Atlantic liberal state composed of DC and its suburbs, and an Appalachian culturally conservative region which flows into the upper South.  The strategy of appealing to culturally conservative men in traditionally red areas of the state does not work.  Allen is leading Webb by 10 points everywhere but Northern Virginia, where Webb is beating Allen 56-42.  And among men, Webb loses by 12 points everywhere but Northern Virginia, where he beats Allen by 18.  It's ironic that Mudcat Saunders, the consultant who preaches Southern red state culture, is heavily involved with a campaign reliant on a liberal voting bloc to counterbalance his NASCAR voters.

2) Webb is weak among women.  Though Democrats usually find an advantage among women in Virginia, Webb does not.  Allen's ads have been effective here, but I would say that Webb's failure to effectively handle the issue is equally problematic.

3) The 'Macaca' moment was not the underlying reason for the shift away from Allen, with only 11% of voters saying that this was important to them.  This is a referendum on Iraq and Bush, within the confines of a state that is trending blue.  The 'Macaca' moment gave voice to the general dissatisfaction with the country, and highlighted Webb's ability to compete with Allen.

4) Webb is more than any candidate this cycle internet-driven.  From the draft movement that brought him into the race to his online fundraising to the Macaca imbroglio, the web has been critical to Webb.  Um.  Ok.  Sorry.  Obviously there's a whole bunch of targeting and field that has nothing to do with the internet, but Webb's campaign has some important lessons that we need to learn.

Virginia is going to be one of the first Southern states to fall to the Democrats on a consistent basis, because the North of the state is more similar to Maryland or any other coastal mid-Atlantic state than it is to, say, North Carolina.  Iraq is a clear signpost for these voters that the Republican Party is simply unacceptable, and as they increase their presence, Virginia will turn to the left.  I find it interesting that Webb's appeal as a former Reagan Navy Secretary isn't helping him in the most conservative regions of the state.  It's impossible to know, but his record as a conservative-sounding guy might be the bridge that liberal Northern Virginians need to move firmly into the Democratic camp.

Update: Kos says that Mudcat is supposed to keep Southern and SW Virginia close. Sounds reasonable.

Tags: George Allen, Jim Webb, Senate, Virginia (all tags)

Comments

28 Comments

Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race

What are the likely voting models in the polls for Virginia? What are they based on?

by bruh21 2006-10-15 08:16AM | 0 recs
-Allen Race: A Different Virginia

One reason Webb is weak among women is probably the article he wrote referencing the "horny woman's dream" lol.

They'll come back to the fold when they realize what a prick Allen is.

by MyDD Fan 2006-10-15 08:22AM | 0 recs
Geography

I think your Geographic characterization is a little off. I'd say Virginia is three or four states: 1. NoVA, Appalachia, CentralVA, and the tidewater.

NoVA is like you said, Appalachia is also like you said, but still is open to voting Democratic like West Virginia (e.g. Rick Boucher).

Central Va is really where the die-hard republicans are. This area is the most like South Carolina and the rest of the deep south.

Tidewater, still many conservative deep south areas, but also many African-Americans and a much more mixed region (e.g. Bobby Scott).

Also, North Carolina isn't so cut-and-dry a case either. I would say that the triangle in North Carolina is MUCH more like MD, than NoVA. It's much more racially diverse and MUCH more liberal than NoVA. Charlotte is much more like NoVA. It still is somehwat racially diverse (like NoVA), but it also has many yankee transplants living in the exurbs whose main concerns are traffic and schools (like NoVA).

NC and VA are trending blue at about the same rate. VA might get there a little sooner, just because of the population weight of NoVA, but NC will get there just the same.

If you want to compare a part of VA to a deeply republican state, SC is the place to go, not NC.

by adamterando 2006-10-15 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Geography

I was going to say the same thing. The Tidewater area, in addition to being far more diverse, is also heavily military, of course. The Navy base, various Marine bases and airfields ... there are few places in the world with that much military that aren't active hot zones.

I'd like to see Tidewater broken out from the rest of VA and the results compared to historical trends. It would be interesting to see if Webb's bio and the war in Iraq has caused any slippage in GOP support there.

Plus, I grew up there, so I'm just curious ...

by BriVT 2006-10-15 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

I would second what weatherunderground said. Virginia is several states. The cities of Norfolk/Hampton/Portsmouth have a much more yeasty mix than Richmond.

The 'Macaca' moment was not the underlying reason for the shift away from Allen

At the time of the incident in Breaks, VA Allen was leading by 16 points. If we win this one we will owe it to the dedication and presence of mind of Sidarth.

It is true that the political culture of NoVA is closer to Maryland than Richmond and southside, but the real difference is the culture of the local Democratic  committees. There is a history in NoVA of volunteerism and precinct work that is weak in the rest of the state.

by Alice Marshall 2006-10-15 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

For a political novice competing against a very slick pol Webb has done very well.

First, Webb had the beat the DC Dem party establishment. He was dismissed by everyone except the grassroots volunteers and the netroots. He competed in the primary against Schumer's handpicked candidate who had the VA Dem party establishment working for him. His primary win was itself a major victory for a non-career politician who does not speak in talking points.

Second, he had to compete against Allen who was not only the incumbent Senator with $7-10 million war chest but was also a previous Governor of VA with tremendous name recognition. Allen also had cultivated the good southern boy image and is very slick on TV.

Third, Webb disliked the fundraising part and had to build an organization from scratch while Allen had built his operation over many years.

It is just amazing what Webb has accomplished in this race despite all the headwinds. I am cautiously optimistic that he'll make it first across the finish line if the Dem base come out in strength and vote.

by ab initio 2006-10-15 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

Webb had the beat the DC Dem party establishment.

Webb was endorsed by Schumer, Dodd, Levin, Kerry and several other Senators. How DC establishment can you get?

by Alice Marshall 2006-10-15 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

The characterization that appealing to culturally-conservative men in the redder parts of the state is not working, is way off.  Being down 10 points in these regions without the organization, fundraising, reputation, and name recognition that Allen has built up is very impressive.  Mark Warner won rural Virginia by telling the folks here in the Commonwealth that he respected their culture.  Webb is continuing to capitalize on this strategy, and it will pay off quite well for future Democrats all over this region.

You can make a region Democratic without having to Northernize the population.  Depending on liberal voters from New York and New England takes too long and also furthers the divide between the rural areas of the South and the Urban centers.  

Again, look at Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.  Warner embraced the culture here, Kaine embraced the faith, and they were both successful.  

If you show respect to a Southerner for liking NASCAR, hunting, and Jesus, they'll respect you back.  If you keep on calling us derogatory names  and debasing our faith, you're never going to win.    Start practicing what you preach about being a big tent party, and you'll benefit greatly.

by Southern Blue Dog 2006-10-15 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

If you're suggesting pandering, then I don't agree. No one's going to score points among any group by telling it what they think it wants to hear unless they can come across as authentic. If they don't, this can only backfire--as it should. No one likes an obvious phony (even though many people seem to like convincing phonies like Bush, but that comes apart sooner or later for all but the most convincing of them).

But if you're saying that candidates need to respect the cultural and social traditions of any given group that they're trying to appeal to, but without necessarily engaging in "Kerry goes goose hunting" silliness, or even saying that they approve of these traditions, then I agree. The starting point for all productive political discussions is an agreement to respect the other side even if you don't necessarily agree with or even like them.

I think this is how Hillary won over upstate New York, and as you say this is how Warner and Kaine placated southern Virgina. It's not just smart politics, it's basic human decency (which, I will admit, I have not always personally lived up to myself, as some of my previous comments here and elsewhere show, because I DO have a serious problem with this whole "good ole' boy" white southern racist redneck culture that's inarguably been holding the south back since the Civil War, as witnessed by its inability to elect progressives let alone African-Americans and instead preferring racist backwards assholes like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond--but I'm not a politician and am definitely not running for office).

by kovie 2006-10-15 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

I agree that no politician should ever resort to pandering.  I also agree that respect for cultural and social traditions is essential to doing well in the South.

No one is going to listen to you if they don't like you.  And no one in the South is going to like you if you act like you don't care.  I see so many posts on blogs with progressives bashing the South.  I will not discuss the irony of people bashing an entire culture in one breath, and then demanding a Big Tent party in the other.  However, I must emphasize how important it is to practice what you preach.  The South will never be 100% progressive.  Never has, never will.  However, you can make the South, and this country a better place by quitting the hatred and start working towards a better future together.  We're all God's children, whether you believe in it or not, and until we can start making this country better, we have to first realize that we're not all that different.

by Southern Blue Dog 2006-10-15 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

I will not discuss the irony of people bashing an entire culture in one breath, and then demanding a Big Tent party in the other.

So who's generalizing here?

I am not bashing an "entire culture", but rather a still predominant element in that culture that continues to glorify ante bellum values, thinking, behavior and symbols, e.g. racism, sexism, nativism, bigotry, stars and bars, stupidity (if you voted for Bush then you were, by definition, advocating stupidity, period).

Are you actually saying that this element does not still exist in the south, in fairly large and significant numbers, and to a greater and more politically signifact extent than in other regions (with a few exceptions such as Idaho or Wyoming)? Then how do you explain racist assholes like Allen, Lott and Helms, and the unbelievably passionate defense of the stars and bars in Georgia's state flag?

I'm all for big tents, but it will never be big enough for bigots and creeps like these. And the attempt to mischaracterize progressive openness as being hypocritical for not including EVERYONE is absurd. And, while I might not "hate" people like this--they grew and were brought up this way, I'm sure, and just inherited their parents' bigotry, which until fairly recently had gone unchallenged--neither do I like or respect them for being this way. As adults--and as, to a large extent, church-going self-identified Christians for Christ's sake--they have absolutely NO excuse to be this way. NONE. So yes, I will continue to demonize and condemn them for this, because they CLEARLY deserve it.

As for your assertions that "The South will never be 100% progressive", so what? No part of the country will ever be 100% progressive, and using that as an argument to accept southern bigotry is rediculous. We will never be crime free, so should we disband police forces? The point is to continue to work towards making the south, and all parts of the country, as close to progressive as possible. And I simply do not buy the notion that there is anything special about the south that prevents this from being possible.

It's time that the south finally grew up and got over the Civil War. It's over 140 years since it ended, and the rest of the country has mostly moved on. I don't see why the south can't, or won't eventually. But not by allowing it to get away with its adamant and even proud tendency towards remaining regressive. I'm not keeping the gloves on for the south, just as I'm doing this for any other region.

Let me put it this. To change people for the better, sometimes a soft approach is best, sometimes a strong one is best, and sometimes a combination of them works best. With the south, I believe that the latter approach would work best. I.e. respect and show your appreciation for what's good and admirable and perfectly fine about the south (and there are many, e.g. its rich musical and literary traditions, the warmth, generosity and easygoing nature of many of its people, its respect for its traditions and past), while coming down hard on what's not (e.g. racism, bigotry, anti-progessivism).

This isn't either/or. Keep the good, throw out the bad, and just move on. That's all that I'm saying. It's also a pretty good definition of progressivism, I think.

by kovie 2006-10-15 07:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

I DO have a serious problem with this whole "good ole' boy" white southern racist redneck culture that's inarguably been holding the south back since the Civil War, as witnessed by its inability to elect progressives let alone African-Americans and instead preferring racist backwards assholes like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond

I DO have a serious problem with unenlightened, chock-full-o-stereotypes diatribes about how stupid Southerners are.

This sort of mentality is a big part of why Democrats don't compete in the South.

*A quick note:  the comparison "like Strom Thurmond" is flawed in its very premise.  There will never, ever be another politician remotely like Strom Thurmond.  Charles Dickens couldn't have dreamed up a more multi-faceted character.

I'm no apologist of Strom Thurmond and the way he lived his life, but it is noteworthy that more African-Americans voted for Strom Thurmond over his career than any other Republican politician in South Carolina.  Why?  Because even given his own personal history, Thurmond administered the best constituent service of probably any politician ever.  Sure, he set the Senate's record by filibustering the Civil Rights act for over 24 hours, but his office probably tracked down a missing Social Security check for some family member of every voter in South Carolina.

There are few things that annoy me more than folks from elsewhere around the country who dismiss the people of states like mine and assume that Democrats' lack of success in the South is all the fault of Southerners.  Must just be because we're a bunch of idiotic, redneck in-breds who don't know what's in our best interest, right?  

Wrong.

Southerners vote for Republicans because Republicans run stronger candidates in stronger campaigns and actually relate to the people, something few Democrats manage to do.

Mediocre Democratic campaign operatives with losing records are recycled election after election down here.  Democrats run unorganized campaigns that don't communicate ideas and are centered upon the same tired, vague, Democratic rhetoric.

In South Carolina, we have a Libertarian-leaning Republican governor who can't get along with the Republican-controlled legislature.  He has extremely high job disapproval ratings.  A no-name joke of a primary competitor with no money took 35% of the vote against the sitting governor in the Republican primary, and the governor failed to carry the most heavily Republican county in the state by a sizeable margin.  He's accomplished essentially nothing over the last four years, and it's no secret.  He's a Florida-born Darden graduate who's lived a privileged life and is married to a Chicagoan, pants-suit clad, Republican Hillary Clinton who has yet to host a tea at the Governor's Mansion.

The Democratic candidate, on the other hand, is a tall, handsome, good ole' native South Carolinian and longtime state senator who was born in a mill town, was a star athlete, and worked his way through college.  He's a pro-guns, pro-life Baptist.  He's much more the guy-next-door than the sitting governor.

He ought to be able to win big, particularly given the dissatisfaction with the sitting governor, yet he's run the most anemic campaign I've ever seen.  He's established little name ID and has yet to communicate a concrete idea of how to fix a state that's at the bottom of every good list and at the top of every bad list.

The problem is not Southern voters.  It's time to stop making excuses.

by Laurin from SC 2006-10-15 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

The problem is not Southern voters.  It's time to stop making excuses.

Yes, because Max Clelend, Inez Tenenbaum and Nick Lampson were such AWFUL candidates who clearly didn't deserve to win.

Are you serious? Are you actually suggesting that if more appealing REAL (i.e. non-DLC) Dems who were genuinely progressive ran in the south, that they'd win most of the time, and that the lack of such candidates, and NOT the pernicious racism and bigotry of a large number of southern voters, is why Repubs and not Dems now control the south? Remember, when Dems did control the south, they were mostly conservative, non-liberal Dems who hardly occupied the same political and policy space as Ted Kennedy or even Hillary Clinton.

I don't doubt that the modern Democratic party has been doing a pretty bad job of recruiting and promoting strong Democratic candidates in recent decades. But that's been true throughout the entire country, not just the south. So the fact that Repubs have been doing much better in the south than in the rest of the country has got SOMETHING to do with the south itself, no?

And I suggest (and believe) that it's because a significant portion of the southern electorate continues to be driven by racism and bigotry (along with sexism, nativism, jingoistic patriotism, fundamentalist Christian moralism, etc.) to the exclusion of all other issues, and that THIS (along with Dems' inability to figure out a way to overcome it, I'll agree) is what largely explain this phenomenon.

Time to cut the self-pity and whining about how the rest of the country keeps beating up on the south, and to look in the mirror and realize that, when it comes to many southerners (not you, of course), it's well-deserved, and something to finally be addressed. We all have black sheep in our families that we need to deal with. Yours is this crowd, and you DO need to deal with them.

by kovie 2006-10-15 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Behind the Tightening Webb-Allen Race: A Diffe

Kovie,

I spent a year working for Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings in his DC office and was a HUGE Inez supporter in 2004.  She's one of my favorite politicians ever -- a true Southern lady who I know personally and hold in the highest regard.  She's a wonderful person and would have made a magnificent US Senator.

Watching the election returns that November 2004 night with my former boss and seeing that he was to be replaced by a kook who thinks gay people shouldn't be allowed to teach school and that we should have a national 30% sales tax instead of a progressive income tax was one of the saddest nights of my life.

With that said, the Inez for Senate campaign -- as I understood -- had a lot of bouncing around in staffing.  I think that the campaign organization in the end was optimal, but it was a long road in getting there, and it was probably too late by the time it happened.

To answer your question, no, I'm not suggesting that if "real non-DLC Dems" ran in the South that they'd get elected because I don't believe there's a one-size-fits-all type of candidate.

I wholly subscribe to Tip O'Neil's mantra that "all politics is local."  There isn't a one-size-fits-all Democratic candidate mold.  It's gotta come from the base up.  But I still think that, on the whole, we'll have more differences on the macro scale than we do on the micro scale.

It's been my experience that Republicans tend to do better on all levels around here, and they certainly have the proverbial "home field advantange" and have a lot deeper bench and a much more rooted establishment.  But, with that said, they also tend to run much more disciplined campaigns.

The Tenenbaum-DeMint race is interesting to look at because I'd say that DeMint ran a sloppier race than Tenenbaum did, so, in the end, the Republican advantage can't be discounted.

Still, I'm fascinated that you read my post as "self-pitying" when, in fact, I intended just the opposite.  I want Democrats to blame Democrats for not being able to reach Southern voters.  It seems to me that Democrats blame the Southern voters and blame the Republican competition but aren't willing to own up to any personal responsibility.  That's my greater point.  I want my party to be tough and competitive, not a party that relies on voters being miffed at the other guys.

by Laurin from SC 2006-10-15 10:40PM | 0 recs
Democrats respect "southern culture."
"If you keep on calling us derogatory names  and debasing our faith, you're never going to win."
    Who is "you" in this case.  I have never heard Democrats disrespect southern culture, even if they are not a part of this culture themselves.  Are you a plant from the DLC?  If you going to make accusations like that, you had better have facts to back it up.  Preferably, quotations from the offending Democrats.  
    I don't want to start a north-south pie fight.  But I am tired of hearing how we northerners don't respect Nascar, religion in the political culture, and hunting.  Guess what?!  That's not a part of northern culture  (to grossly oversimplify).  In any case, the north-south divide is bigger than most make it.  Just as many northerners love Jesus, as southerners, but northerners don't like injecting religion into the political culture.  So don't disrespect our culture either.  Northerners have just as much faith and morality as southerners, and it's false to think otherwise.  Just because northerners don't scream it from the rooftops, doesn't make it false.  And stop telling us what we should do.  It's your area - YOU do something about it!  
   So let's stop making false accusations, and meet in the middle.  You can be a blue dog in the Democratic party, but let's not forget that that doesn't mean that you can't compromise.  Harold Ford, Jim Webb, and Claire McCaskill seem to be kicking ass.  So I think Democrats are doing amazing in places where they are at a structural disadvantage.
    Northerners don't like being stereotyped either: "limousine liberals," "latte-drinking, volvo-driving liberal," and my favorite, "moral relativist/secularist."  Let's bury the hatchet on this crap.
by cilerder86 2006-10-15 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re:

cilerder86,

You're certainly right that stereotyping goes both ways, and there's no place for it in either direction if we're going to build a stronger national party.

As a girl who grew up 15 miles from NASCAR's first superspeedway (the Darlington Raceway) and the home of the NASCAR hall of fame, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the NASCAR culture isn't a Southern/Northern divide anymore.  I'd conjecture that it's Republican/Democrat thing.

NASCAR is America's fastest growing sport and has widespread appeal coast-to-coast.  Darlington, SC lost its biggest race, the Southern 500, to a brand-new superspeedway in California that has much greater seating capacity, and our local economy suffered markedly as a result.

There are huge NASCAR races in the Northeast; in fact, there are as many superspeedways in the Northeast as there are in South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana combined.

I'm not writing all of this to be reverse-snotty, and I don't mean to come across as though I'm criticizing you.  Rather, I'm pointing out that folks who aren't in touch with the NASCAR culture assume that it is a Southern thing, when, in fact, it isn't at all.  It isn't a redneck thing either.  Owning up to the fact that the sport is dominated by white males, NASCAR has championed major outreach initiatives to women and minorities.

by Laurin from SC 2006-10-15 06:24PM | 0 recs
Yes, I know.

   NASCAR is surprisingly popular in the rural notheast.  NASCAR fans are also wealthier than most.  That being said, I can't understand what NASCAR has to do with anything.  I agree that north/south divisions are overblown.  

by cilerder86 2006-10-15 06:51PM | 0 recs
Also.

   My state, Pennsylvania, has the largest number of registered hunters in the country.  Public schools in the central and especially the northern parts of the state close every year for the opening of hunting season.  My roommate disappeared for a week last year to go hunting.  He is also an evangelical Christian.  But...he's a Democrat!  

by cilerder86 2006-10-15 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Also.

I have always heard that Pennsylvania = Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between. :)

by Laurin from SC 2006-10-15 07:36PM | 0 recs
Pennsylvania is ---

Of course, that was a guy from Louisiana, James Carville, who said that.

by joyful alternative 2006-10-17 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re:

I went to college a town away from Watkins Glen, NY, which at the time had a well-known raceway (I believe it was NASCAR, but am not sure). And the northeast has a HUGE hunting community, one that might arguably be bigger than the south's. I've never been to a NASCAR event or gone hunting, but I don't begrudge people who enjoy either and engage in them responsibly and ethically (e.g. don't be a drunk idiot on the infield, don't poach or kill endangered species).

It's not about these things, and to the extent that I or other people mock them, it's for rhetorical effect, and in the sense that, to people in the rest of the country, people who enagage in, or appear to engage in, such activities to the exclusion of other activities, or simply obsessively and excessively, just seem rather odd and backwards (the same way that someone who spends all day playing computer games or watching football might seem to many people), and in a way that also appears to be in line with other qualities that still exist in the south to an unfortunate (but certainly not exclusive or even predominant) extent, e.g. racism and bigotry. I.e., if it werent' for the racism and bigotry, none of us would even notice or mention NASCAR and hunting.

Just as, I suppose, if not for the admitted elitism, snobbism and condescenscion that clearly emanates from many (but certainly not all or even most) coastal liberals towards those in the heartland (which, I'll admit, I've been guilty of from time to time, being from NYC and now living in Seattle), no one would bother to mock the latte-drinking, Volvo-driving and tree-hugging (none of which I engage in, btw). Works both ways, I'll admit.

In any case, people have the right to enjoy whatever activities they enjoy, without being harrassed or mocked for it, SO LONG AS they're otherwise decent and fair people. But as long as a sizeable number of southerners (in proportions that are arguably bigger than the national average) continue to cling to their racist and bigoted traditions and thinking, don't expect us outsiders to be so understanding and respectful.

It's not people like you whom we view as the problem, but some of your neighbors. Both of you might (or might not) enjoy NASCAR and hunting, but so long as some of them continue to live up to the stereotype of the southern bigot, these stereotypes will continue to be thrown back at your part of the country, with these admitedly irrelevant and unfair cultural put-downs attached.

by kovie 2006-10-15 08:02PM | 0 recs
Re:

"...if it werent' (sic) for the racism and bigotry, none of us would even notice or mention NASCAR and hunting."

Assuming the folks engaging in the sport aren't hunting persons of other skin colors, how exactly is hunting racist or bigoted?

Regarding NASCAR, yeah, so it's mostly white dudes doing the driving.  Last time I checked, the vast majority of hockey players and hockey fans are also white.  Is hockey also a sport of racists and bigots?  

The premises on which your assertions lie are unfounded and rest on stereotypes; thus, I can't accept your premises.

But as long as a sizeable number of southerners (in proportions that are arguably bigger than the national average) continue to cling to their racist and bigoted traditions and thinking, don't expect us outsiders to be so understanding and respectful.

See, this is the standard looking-down-your-nose mentality that I simply can't stomach from someone who, ostensibly, isn't from the South and doesn't know the first thing about living in the region.

Yes, I realize that the South is far from the bastion of progressive thinking, but if there's one type of person who bothers me more than a racist, it's an intellectual elitist -- because an intellectual elitist has the education level and "higher-level" thinking skills to know better.

Intellect is no less an immutable characteristic than race, and judging another person on the basis of an immutable characteristic is despicable - whether it's skin color or intellect or shoe size.

Racial tensions in the South are perpetuated generation-after-generation because of lack of education, and the means by which to remedy these tensions is not expecting dirt poor, uneducated folks to just wake up one morning and "get it."

In order to arrive at a solution, it's necessary to understand the nature of the problem.

The sort of high-and-mighty attitude with which many folks regard the South is no less narrow-minded than the way many Americans view the rebuilding of Iraq; that is, they dismiss the history of the region and just expecting Iraqis to "get it" and accept that the Western way is the superior way.  It just doesn't work like that.

In South Carolina, one out of every two students drops out of high school.  We have the highest rate of domestic violence in the United States, among the highest rates of heart disease in the nation, the worst SAT scores in the nation, and the second-highest unemployment rate.  We've lost 71,000 textile jobs in the last five years.

These numbers aren't coincidental, and these problems aren't going to vanish overnight.  
I'm speculating, but I have a feeling you wouldn't understand living in such destitute circumstances.  I don't understand them either, and I've lived my whole life in the poorest region of South Carolina, the region in which my family has lived since the Revolutionary War.  But I've never gone to bed hungry or lived in a household in which the adults couldn't find work.  

Still, I recognize that these circumstances and realities exist, I recognize why they exist, and I want to help in fixing the problem.  I assure you that the finger-wagging of intellectual elitists certain does nothing but exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

by Laurin from SC 2006-10-15 09:25PM | 0 recs
Re:

My god, there are so many logical holes and mistakes in this response that I don't even know where to begin--or whether it's even worth the effort. But since you took the trouble to respond, I at least owe you an attempt.

First, when I wrote the following:

...if it werent' (sic) for the racism and bigotry, none of us would even notice or mention NASCAR and hunting.

I was NOT saying that NASCAR and hunting were racist or bigoted, but rather that the racism and bigotry still prevalent among many southerners (which you acknowledge) makes it hard not to take notice of other southern traits, such as its fondness for NASCAR and hunting (or, while I'm on a tear, silly tearjerker "my man done left me" country songs mass-produced by Nashville and often drowning out far more talented country musicians such as the Dixie Chicks or Allison Krause). The only reason we notice and make fun of these things IS the racism and bigotry, even though we know full well that these things, by themselves, are not racist. And I never said they were.

Then there's this:

See, this is the standard looking-down-your-nose mentality that I simply can't stomach from someone who, ostensibly, isn't from the South and doesn't know the first thing about living in the region.

How is condemning racism--of ANY form or region, but in this case southern--looking down anyone's nose except that of actual racists (which of course I'm not accusing you of being), who clearly have no right to be offended by this? Since when are non-southerners not allowed to look down at such racism, which I thought was unacceptable no matter where you were from?

Wasn't the Civil War itself in many ways the result of NORTHERN anti-racists (i.e. abolitionists, based in Massachussetts), essentially "looking down southern racist noses"? And weren't northern "freedom fighters" during the 60's doing exactly the same thing? Are you saying that THEY were WRONG?

The US is a COUNTRY, not a loose collection of independant regions and states, where anyone from anywhere can criticize anyone else from anywhere else if they feel that they're in the wrong, which southern racists CLEARLY are. You're not still upset over the Civil War and that whole rediculous "states rights" bullshit, are you?

And this:

Yes, I realize that the South is far from the bastion of progressive thinking, but if there's one type of person who bothers me more than a racist, it's an intellectual elitist -- because an intellectual elitist has the education level and "higher-level" thinking skills to know better.

No kidding (although there are many examples of progressive thinking in the south, e.g. Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, etc.). But are you actually saying that so-called "intellectual elitists" (whatever the hell that actually means--are you now holding my having attended a good university and having my own ideas and opinions against me now?) are actually WORSE than racists?!? Because I can find no other way to interpret this. My god, talk about lack of perspective. Einstein (and yes, he was an intellectual elitist) was WORSE than Hitler--because the latter presumably didn't know better?!?

And this:

Intellect is no less an immutable characteristic than race, and judging another person on the basis of an immutable characteristic is despicable - whether it's skin color or intellect or shoe size.

No, intellect, unlike race or show size, is something that can be acquired and enhanced through education and self-improvement. The two are in no way, shape or form comparable. One is born with a certain innate level of intellectual capacity, I suppose, but what one does with it is a whole other matter. Race and shoe size, on the other hand (Michael Jackson and Procustean methods notwithstanding) cannot be changed at all. So to insult someone's race (let alone shoe size--who does that?) is in no way comparable to insulting their intellect.

Yes, I can understand how people born into poor and uneducated families will often not have the most developed intellects as adults (although folks like Bill Clinton and many others do put the lie to that myth). But how does this excuse their racism? There are undoubtedly many poor southern blacks. Why aren't they racists (and resenting white people does not count, because it is completely understandable).

Sounds to me like you're in a state of denial about certain things about your precious south (which, as I said about, certainly has many admirable qualities, including its people when they're not voting for guys who say Macaca and the N-word with pride), and expect the rest of the country to just go on letting your problems fester, which they done for well over a century. You want to pretend that you don't have racism problems. Fine. But that doesn't mean that you don't, because you clearly do. And it seems to me that the only time anything was ever done about them was when northern agitators came in and forced you to.

Maybe it's time again, this time via the legal political process.

And I am amazed that you consider yourself a Democrat.

by kovie 2006-10-15 11:23PM | 0 recs
Re:

Incidentally, I substantially agree with the second half of your comment, about how low education levels among poor white southerners, along with terrible economic conditions, help perpetuate the racism. And I commend your desire to help change this. What I don't understand or agree with is your "butt out" mentality, or your being so hypersensitive to outsiders' accusing your region of a racism that you yourself acknowledge exists. Clearly, your region has been unable and/or unwilling to help lift itself out of this cycle of poverty, ignorance and racism. Perhaps it's time to let outsiders help you with this. And, you know, finally finish Reconstruction.

And I take back the comment about your being a Democrat. That was unfair.

by kovie 2006-10-15 11:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats respect "southern culture.

"Who is "you" in this case.  I have never heard Democrats disrespect southern culture, even if they are not a part of this culture themselves."

Then you must have missed Kovie's posts above.  I already got into it with this person on another thread and see no point in continuing, but if you read his/her posts it is obvious that they believe NASCAR, pickup trucks, and Southern culture in general are inherently racist sexist and Republican.  Which is absurd on the face of it.  You must have also missed Matt Stoller's post that started this thread - where he uses Webb's poll numbers to YET AGAIN take a gratuitous potshot at Dave "Mudcat" Saunders and his suggestion that Democrats had better start showing some more respect for Southern culture if we seriously hope to compete there again.

Showing some respect for Southern culture does not have anything to do with adopting the Republican platform or "pandering", whatever that is.  The two are completely separable.  To suggest otherwise is very, very offensive and bigoted.

by ACSR 2006-10-16 03:19AM | 0 recs
Democrats that matter.

   I meant, you know, Democrats on the national scene, Democrats that hold office, and Democratic spokesmen.  Not Kovie.

by cilerder86 2006-10-16 04:30PM | 0 recs
Webb's weakness

One of Webb's problems--possibly his biggest problem from what I've seen of this race--is that, while he's clearly vastly more qualified, experienced, smarter, more knowledgable and  serious than Allen, he simply does not come across as terribly enthusiastic about this race or charismatic.

I recall his talking about how, in the context of his long record of public service, being a senator wouldn't be at or near the top of the list of accomplishments. What an idiotic (if perhaps honest, given his clearly impressive accomplishments) thing to say in the middle of a tight race with a popular incumbent. That's like saying, in the middle of a job interview, that you really don't care one way or another if you get the job. Even if true, why on earth would you say that? And if true, why IS he running? Surely more than a few swing voters must be asking themselves that.

He's also failed to display enough passion and enthusiasm in his appearances--at least the ones that I've seen so far--in my opinion. It's like he's telling voters with his body language what he essentially told them with his words, that he could care less if he wins or loses. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but lots of fence-sitters, and perhaps even weak Allen supporters, will come away from that wondering why they should vote for a man who doesn't seem to want the job so badly.

Which is quite perplexing seeing as Webb DOES appear to feel quite passionately about many issues, especially regarding the war, the military, and national security. If he's really that passionate about such issues, and really believes that it's important to hold Bush accountable for his failings and terrible policies, then he certainly understands the importance of winning back the senate, and of SHOWING this passion in his campaigning. Yet he continues to come across as a bit of a policy wonk resting on his laurels and not that concerned about whether he won or lost. I just don't get it. There's still time to do something about this, but not that much time.

by kovie 2006-10-15 01:16PM | 0 recs
A dangerous race

If this race does not finish Allen off for good, he will emerge stronger and might actually have a shot at the Republican nomination in 2008.  And he actually has the potential to be as bad as Bush.

If Allen wins, he will be able to claim that the close election taught him some valuable, humbling lessons.  All the dirt that has come out will be counted as old news.

And anyone who thinks a record of racism will hurt Allen should take another look at Reagan -- Reagan had a fricken' lawn jockey in front of his ranch, and kicked off one of his presidential campaigns with a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi about states' rights.  And remember "how can you tell the pollack at the cock fight?"

Just one more reason it is important for Webb to seal the deal...

by Minerva 2006-10-15 05:49PM | 0 recs

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