Comparing Obama in 2007 and the Current Republican Presidential Field

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

The Republican presidential field is nearly complete. There is a possibility that Texas Governor Rick Perry might enter the field. Other than that, however, its pretty probable that the 2012 Republican nominee will be one of the current Republican candidates running.

The Republican presidential field has been criticized as weak, lacking a charismatic candidate. It’s hard to tell how valid this criticism really is; after all, if a Republican wins in 2012 nobody will remember what people are saying today. Many Republicans take heart by comparing their current field to the 1992 Democratic field, which was also criticized as extremely weak. That field, of course, turned out have the best politician in a generation.

One way to evaluate the strength of the Republican candidates is by comparing them to Senator Barack Obama in 2007. I’ve recently, somewhat on a whim, come upon a video of Mr. Obama during that time. It’s an interview on The Daily Show, back during the days when Mr. Obama was trailing Senator Hillary Clinton badly.

I highly encourage anybody interested in the 2012 presidential election to watch this video. It’s very interesting to see Mr. Obama back then, not as the president, but rather as just another merely ambitious senator.

Watching the interview, it does seem that Mr. Obama is a better politician than the current Republicans running for president – especially front-runner Mitt Romney. He sounds intelligent and quite thoughtful. Of course, this is very subjective; Republicans will probably disagree with this viewpoint, Democrats will wholeheartedly support it.

Nevertheless, there is one thing in which Mr. Obama does obviously outdo his Republican opposition – a thing which can be measured objectively. This is that he inspired much more passion in 2007 than any of the Republican candidates currently running. When Mr. Obama walks into the room, the crowd roars in excitement. Some supporters yell, “Barack, Barack.” Host Jon Stewart then starts the interview by noting:

You…The effect you have on a crowd, it is, it’s unusual for a politician. You do have…there is a certain inspiration quality to you.

It’s difficult to imagine anything similar happening with any Republican candidate currently running. People do not yell “Michele, Michele” during Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s interviews.

This is one advantage that President Barack Obama seems to have; even in 2010, on the eve of massive Democratic losses, Mr. Obama was able to draw crowds of 35,000 to his rallies.

Republicans will gleefully point out that they won anyways, and that passion alone does not win elections. There is a lot of truth to this; one passionate voter is worth the same as one voter who could care less.

But at the very least, it is better to have passionate supporters than not to have them.

 

Comparing Obama in 2007 and the Current Republican Presidential Field

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

The Republican presidential field is nearly complete. There is a possibility that Texas Governor Rick Perry might enter the field. Other than that, however, its pretty probable that the 2012 Republican nominee will be one of the current Republican candidates running.

The Republican presidential field has been criticized as weak, lacking a charismatic candidate. It’s hard to tell how valid this criticism really is; after all, if a Republican wins in 2012 nobody will remember what people are saying today. Many Republicans take heart by comparing their current field to the 1992 Democratic field, which was also criticized as extremely weak. That field, of course, turned out have the best politician in a generation.

One way to evaluate the strength of the Republican candidates is by comparing them to Senator Barack Obama in 2007. I’ve recently, somewhat on a whim, come upon a video of Mr. Obama during that time. It’s an interview on The Daily Show, back during the days when Mr. Obama was trailing Senator Hillary Clinton badly.

I highly encourage anybody interested in the 2012 presidential election to watch this video. It’s very interesting to see Mr. Obama back then, not as the president, but rather as just another merely ambitious senator.

Watching the interview, it does seem that Mr. Obama is a better politician than the current Republicans running for president – especially front-runner Mitt Romney. He sounds intelligent and quite thoughtful. Of course, this is very subjective; Republicans will probably disagree with this viewpoint, Democrats will wholeheartedly support it.

Nevertheless, there is one thing in which Mr. Obama does obviously outdo his Republican opposition – a thing which can be measured objectively. This is that he inspired much more passion in 2007 than any of the Republican candidates currently running. When Mr. Obama walks into the room, the crowd roars in excitement. Some supporters yell, “Barack, Barack.” Host Jon Stewart then starts the interview by noting:

You…The effect you have on a crowd, it is, it’s unusual for a politician. You do have…there is a certain inspiration quality to you.

It’s difficult to imagine anything similar happening with any Republican candidate currently running. People do not yell “Michele, Michele” during Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s interviews.

This is one advantage that President Barack Obama seems to have; even in 2010, on the eve of massive Democratic losses, Mr. Obama was able to draw crowds of 35,000 to his rallies.

Republicans will gleefully point out that they won anyways, and that passion alone does not win elections. There is a lot of truth to this; one passionate voter is worth the same as one voter who could care less.

But at the very least, it is better to have passionate supporters than not to have them.

 

The Whitest District of Them All, Part 2

This is the part of a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The Districts

The previous post stated that

I drew a lot of districts in the quest for the whitest district of them all. It wouldn’t do the difficulty of this task justice to just show one district. Rather, I will show the five whitest districts of all the ones that I drew. Numbers five and four will be in this post. The top three will be in the next one.

The fifth-whitest district was in the state of Indiana, the fourth whitest was in the state of Kentucky.

Now for the third-whitest district.

#3: West Virginia

Population – 98.2% white, 0.3% black, 0.5% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% other

West Virginia is home to the third whitest district. This district is the most compact of all the districts presented here, essentially taking in all of rural West Virginia. Interestingly, despite being almost exactly one-third of the state’s population, it covers the vast majority of West Virginia’s land area. West Virginia is not commonly thought of as an urban state – but even this part of America is urbanized to a striking degree.

Politically, this district used to constitute the core of white working-class, pro-union Democratic strength. It probably voted Democratic in 1988, 1980, and 1968 – all years in which the Republican presidential candidate pummeled the Democrat. During the 21st century, however, it shifted strongly Republican. President Barack Obama lost the district in 2008, and it would be extremely surprising if he wins it in 2012.

#2: Ohio

Population – 98.2% white, 0.3% black, 0.6% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.7% other

The second whitest district of them all belongs to the ultimate swing state, Ohio.


The key to this district is the size of Ohio. Because Ohio is such a populous state, the district is free to sprawl throughout the state in search of only the whitest precincts. This is something that wasn’t possible in Kentucky or West Virginia, and it’s why the district is slightly whiter – despite Ohio overall having a much lower white population.

Rural whites in Ohio are also quite conservative. Politically this district gave President Barack Obama 36.1% of the vote in 2008; Senator John McCain took 61.7% of the vote. The “average” Democrat from the years 2006 to 2008 won 45.6% of the vote; the “average” Republican won 54.4% of the vote. Both numbers overstate Democratic strength here, since 2006 to 2008 were very good years for Democrats.

#1: Pennsylvania

Population – 98.6% white, 0.2% black, 0.4% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.5% other

Surprise! The whitest district of them all is in Pennsylvania, a state which you probably weren’t guessing.

Like Ohio, Pennsylvania benefits from being a very populous state; the district can freely reach into only the whitest areas. And apparently central and eastern Pennsylvania are extremely white regions.

Geographically, this district covers a lot of ground. Remember that the people living here compose only 1/18th of Pennsylvania’s total population. And yet the district is certainly a lot bigger than 1/18th of Pennsylvania’s total land area.

Politically, this district has a lot in common with the Indiana and Ohio districts. It gave President Barack Obama 37.2% of the vote and Senator John McCain 61.3% of the vote in 2008. Pennsylvania may be a Democratic-leaning state, but rural Pennsylvania whites are not anymore liberal than rural Indiana and Ohio whites. Moreover, this district has probably always been Republican-leaning. Parts of it, especially in the southwest, once were quite Democratic. But the eastern part of the district outnumbers the southwest. Located in Pennsylvania’s “T”, those eastern reaches have been a Republican stronghold for a very long time.

Conclusions

Most people say that the whitest part of the United States is in New England. That’s technically true, if one includes New England’s snow-white non-rural areas. But, as this post shows, the part of the United States with the highest percentage of whites is actually located elsewhere.

There are several ways to describe the region. It’s entirely rural; the cities and suburbs in the region are not included. Parts (or all) of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia cover it. One way to describe it would be as the basin of the Ohio River. Another way would be as the Appalachian Mountains and the forested areas to their north.

Whatever the description, minorities have never settled in this part of the United States. African-Americans generally live in the South and, outside of the South, in cities. Hispanics generally live in the Southwest and, outside the Southwest, in cities and economically growing regions. Asians generally live in California and Hawaii and, outside those two states, in suburbs. This region is thus the whitest part of the America, and will probably continue to be so for many, many years to come.

--Inoljt 

 

The Whitest District of Them All, Part 1

This is the part of a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. “The Whitest District of Them All, Part 2″ can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The Challenge

The other posts in this series pack Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. All of these groups are minorities in the United States.

Whites, on the other hand, compose a majority of America’s population, numbering more than three out of every five Americans.

This makes creating the whitest district possible an extremely difficult task. It is usually quite obvious where to look when attempting to create a district composed entirely of one minority. For Asians, one goes to the San Francisco Bay Area; for blacks, one goes to the South Side of Chicago, for Hispanics one goes to Miami and South Texas; for Native Americans one goes to Oklahoma.

Whites, however, are different. There are so many extremely white areas in the United States that it is impossible to determine, at first glance, which area is the whitest of all. One needs to go through tedious trial-and-error to find out.

Strategies

There are several guidelines to follow in trying to draw the whitest congressional district possible. Firstly, there are already some very white congressional districts out there. The state of Vermont is 95.3% white. Then there is Maine’s 1st congressional district, which is 96.8% white. That’s a good lower-bound number.

In drawing these districts, I tried to find all the precincts which were more than 98% white. I then linked the precincts together into one continguous district using the whitest precincts between them. This process led to some very strange-looking districts.

The whitest parts of America have several characteristics in common:

Geography -  Anyplace within 1,500 miles of the Pacific Ocean is not white enough. Nor is any part of the former Confederacy.

There are several reasons for this. The states in the former Confederacy do have a lot of 98% white precincts. However, one quickly runs out of them and must then start taking in precincts with significant black populations. The problem is different in the Plains; these places are very white, but population is just too small altogether. One eventually is forced to take in minorities, because nobody lives in the 98% white areas of Nebraska or Idaho. Finally, in the Rocky Mountains and West Coast there are no 98% white areas at all; they are too integrated (Oregon, Utah) and/or the minority population is too high (California, Texas).

Rural America – The whitest parts of America are almost all rural. America’s cities and suburbs are always less white than its rural areas; I have not seen one exception to this rule so far. Indeed, it is extremely rare to find a 98% white precinct in any suburb or city at all. Perhaps only Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dayton, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis have 98% white precincts.

Stagnant/Hard-to-Reach – In addition, they tend to be out-of-the-way. These places are generally a fairly long drive from major cities or highways. Economically, the whitest parts of the United States tend to be fairly stagnant (or in decline); there is not much going on. Indeed, one of the surest ways to tell that a place is undergoing rapid economic growth is an exploding Hispanic population.

Republican – Whites lean Republican, and it’s not surprising that extremely white congressional districts vote Republican. There are some exceptions (e.g. New England), but most of these districts voted for Senator John McCain.

The Districts

I drew a lot of districts in the quest for the whitest district of them all. It wouldn’t do the difficulty of this task justice to just show one district. Rather, I will show the five whitest districts of all the ones that I drew. Numbers five and four will be in this post. The top three will be in the next one.

And…here they are:

#5: Indiana


Population – 97.8% white, 0.2% black, 1.0% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% other.

Indiana takes fifth place, with a 97.8% white district. This district weaves through rural Indiana to take in the whitest parts possible. It avoids the northwestern part of the state, which is slightly less white. Notice how the district forms enormous loops around the major cities and towns of Indiana where the minority population is greater.

Politically, this district would favor the Republican Party by a large margin. It gave Senator John McCain a healthy 60.0% of the vote; President Barack Obama took a mere 38.5%. Given that Mr. Obama overperformed tremendously in Indiana, a normal Democratic candidate would probably do even worse.

#4: Kentucky


Population – 98.0% white, 0.3% black, 0.7% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.7% other

Kentucky, the heart of the Applachians, takes fourth place. It’s interesting how the “other” population is so relatively high in the district.

This district actually looks somewhat compact. The core of its population is in the mountainous area bordering West Virginia. Indeed, that part of the country is the whitest part of the United States; unfortunately for redistricters, it’s divided into three states. The district then reaches several arms out to take some other very white parts of Kentucky to the west.

Politically, parts of this district were ancestrally Democratic; President Bill Clinton might have won it. Since then Appalachia’s white working class has shifted strongly Republican. I’ll take a wild guess and say that it went Republican in 2008.

#3, #2, and #1

The next post will deal with the three whitest districts in the United States. Try to guess which states they’re located in!

--Inoljt 

 

The Fall and Rise of Southern Presidents: How the Civil War Broke The South

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Out of all the regions in the United States, the South probably has the most unique and interesting history. Looking at the geographic origins of each president provides a fascinating proxy of Southern influence in America. To do this, I have compiled a table which lists whether each president had Southern origins or not.

Here are the early years of America:

In this table, Southern is defined as simply the former states of the Confederacy. Presidents with two terms get two entries; those with one term get merely one. It is generally pretty clear whether or not a president had Southern origins; the only two difficult cases are that of President Harry Truman (raised in Missouri) and President George W. Bush (who was born in Connecticut but spent most of his life in Texas).

As the table indicates, Southern presidents dominate the early life of the republic. Four of the first five founding presidents are Southern; their Democratic-Republican Party eventually extinguishes the New England Federalists. Interestingly, it appears that Southern influence was already in decline by the late 1840s; the last three presidents in this list are all non-Southern. By 1860, non-Southern presidents have held control over the country for the longest period since its founding.

The Civil War then utterly annihilates Southern influence:

For a long time after the Civil War, Southerners are unelectable. President Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President Andrew Johnson is the last Southern president for nearly half a century. After President Woodrow Wilson, it’s nearly another half century before the next Southern president.

During this period the Southern vote is uniformly Democratic. Unfortunately for the South, this means that the Democratic Party rarely nominates Southern presidential candidates; it already has the region under its belt. Moreover, and more importantly, Southerners are still tarred by the brush of secession. The northern electorate is extremely reluctant to cast a ballot for a Southerner.

In the modern era, Southern presidents have once again begun appearing frequently:

Four of the last five presidential terms have been controlled by Southern presidents. In the process, the South has closed much of the once vast income gap that existed between itself and the wealthier northern states.

All in all, the Civil War destroyed Southern influence for about a century. The South then regained some of its influence. However, it still has not reached the dominance over the American political system that it had during the antebellum era. Given the way in which America has changed and expanded since the Civil War, it probably never will.

 

 

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