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 

 

Racism and Sexism: West Virginia Politics At Its Worst

I generally try to avoid the stereotypes of West Virginia (inbred, racist, un-educated, etc.) because for the most part they perpetuate a myth that the state itself doesn’t live up to.  We are not inbred redneck white-supremacists like a lot of the common jokes and stereotypes suggest.  However, much to my disappointment, racism is still alive in West Virginia.  It comes as no surprise because, frankly, you are bound to find racism anywhere in the United States (thankfully not to the extent of what the U.S. saw during the civil rights movement).  I’d like to believe that we live in a post-racial America, but sadly this is far from fact.  Our country has gotten better, and racism is detested for the most part by the rational portion of our population.

Even if someone is what one would describe as “racist,” they typically aren’t outwardly voicing this belief (we’ll leave out the skinheads etc. since they are in a league of their own for this).  However, sometimes people just let it slip.  One man vying for the GOP nomination to West Virginia’s Gubernatorial election did just that.

Larry Faircloth (R-WV) is one of several people gunning for the GOP nomination, and may have just killed his chances of winning.  Faircloth spoke at a candidates forum hosted by We the People of Hampshire County, an Eastern Panhandle Tea Party-affiliated organization.  Faircloth touched on the subject of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and decided to try his hand at a comedy.  Not the best idea Faircloth has had.

Faircloth referred to Pelosi as a “bimbo.”

“Is she not one?” Faircloth said in a Tuesday evening telephone interview. “I mean, a lot of people think she is a bimbo; that’s why they replaced Congress with Republicans, and they removed her as speaker. I don’t find that as anything different than a political poke at her.”

He also referred to Obama as a “Sambo,” a term many consider racist.

(Charleston Daily Mail)

When your joke offends the tea party members, and its in reference to Pelosi and Obama, you know you’ve made a huge mistake.  If this public gaffe weren’t bad enough, Faircloth only exacerbated it.  The Charleston Daily Mail reported that Faircloth initially refused to apologize publicly for his awful joke, even after being asked by the hosts of the forum where it occurred.  Faircloth claimed to have heard the joke from a poll worker earlier and decided to recycle it in order to garner some type of comedic support.  Its bad enough if someone doesn’t realize they made a racist joke, ignorance is still alive in this country.  However, Faircloth’s remark was met with gasps from the audience and caused one man to walk out in protest. No excuse for Faircloth not knowing now.

Terry Craver asked Faircloth to put an ad in the Hampshire Review to apologize to the community.

“His reply was a resounding NO,” the email said. “He is afraid that if one of his opponents were to get a hold of this information, that it would damage his campaign. He doesn’t want his reputation to be hurt. Terry told him with the National Media already trying to make the tea party out as a bunch of racists his ‘joke’ would do more damage to the reputation of the tea party.”

If his opponents got ahold of the info he was afraid it would damage his campaign?  Logic tells me that, even if he hadn’t been contacted to issue an apology, the incident would still have spread quickly.  Faircloth has really moved his way up the bigot ladder, and doesn’t show any sign of climbing down soon.  Thankfully, the primary is soon and  West Virginia Republicans would be wise to vote for someone besides Faircloth.

I commend the members of the Hampshire County-based Tea Party for actively denouncing this inane man’s comments.  I don’t find myself agreeing with any part of their platform (for the most part), but when push comes to shove we must all stand up for what is right.  Sometimes, if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.  Lets hope that the WV GOP has enough sense to send Mr. Faircloth packing on primary day.

(cross-posted on MyFDL)

There's more...

Where Unions Are Imperative

Its been a long time since I've been on MyDD, but its good to be back.  

The talk of the town these days seems to be unions, and Wisconsin is center stage.  Thats old news of course, just judging by the sheer amount of times the word "union" is mentioned on a single page alone here at MyDD.  Unfortunately, when the talk involves unions you will have those who want to throw them under the bus.  Many label union-members as "lazy" and "thuggish."  Sadly, this totally misrepresents the vast vast majority of them (there's a bad apple in every bunch, lets be honest).

Nothing gets under my skin quite as much as when the GOP brings up the subject of unions.  This may be a bit of a generalization, but I'll take the heat if any comes.  I'm biased and can't help it.  My family has been supported by a union for my entire life (21 years) and much longer.  It runs in our blood.

Naturally, I understand that with everything there are setbacks.  Unions have their drawbacks, theres no doubt.  At the end of the day however, we need collective bargaining for workers in this country.  Its a fundamental RIGHT that may not be explicitly stated in plain English for Republicans to read and comprehend, but its true.  

To better understand the situation, I  would like to offer a bit of a unique perspective to the importance of unions.  In case anyone has forgotten (or never knew in the first place), I am from West Virginia and have lived here my entire life.  The coal-mining industry is still thriving and powerful as ever (despite the departure of Don Blankenship).  

Take a look back to April of last year, when 29 miners lost their lives in a horrible explosion.  The mine was run by Massey Energy, a company notorious for not allowing unions or labor organization at all.  In fact, the CEO at the Time (Blankenship) was famous for union-busting.  

In the last five years, fatal accidents at three non-union West Virginia coal mines have resulted in 43 fatalities.

These deaths are causing some to question the safety records of mines where workers are not in the miner’s union.

"I think the obvious evidence in the last few years is that currently it’s more dangerous to work in non-union mines than union mines," he said.

Source: WV Pubcast

When workers aren't allowed to organize and collectively bargain, they lose any clout they have against a big corporation (in this case Massey) and are unable to refuse work because of poor working conditions.  Unions provide that kind of safety net.  They allow the laborers of this country to proudly stand together and not just be a number for a corporation, they are given a voice in a place where they would otherwise have none.

In the words of United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts (Paraphrased), the miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine should have had the right to say kiss my ass, I'm not working in these terrible conditions.

This is just one of many examples detailing just how important labor unions are.  We need them in this country.

 

Is Anyone Else Frightened By Tea-Partiers in Congress?

Recently, I've come to the realization that it is inevitable we are going to have a few tea party "patriots" in Congress after the midterm elections tomorrow.  Whether it be the rabble-rousing 5 o'clock shadow known as Joe Miller in Alaska, or fundamentalist Floridian Marco Rubio, a candidate bearing the tea party dark mark will no doubt find themselves inside the hallowed halls of the Capitol building.

The regressive, and sometimes radical, views of candidates like Miller are what genuinely scares me a bit when discussing their potential to get elected into the major legislative body of our United States of America. Miller holds strictly conservative, and many times embarrassing, views on homosexuality.  He came under fire earlier in October when it was leaked that he had an anti-gay activist on his campaign's payroll. 

According to Miller's campaign disclosure forms, Miller has paid Terry Moffitt of High Point, North Carolina, $2500 for consulting services. Moffitt is not known as a political consultant. But he is a man of many interests. He's been a dean at a Christian high school (where hetaught creationism), and he has traveled around the world to promote Christianity. (He refers to himself as the "Christian Indiana Jones.")

Moffitt's Family Policy Network runs a project called "Hope for Homosexuals"  that encourages "practicing homosexuals to 'come out' of that destructive lifestyle, and to 'come home' to the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ…While the homosexuals celebrate their perversions, they are confronted with the truth that there is hope for deliverance in Jesus Christ."

Source: Mother Jones

And then you have people like John Raese, who is currently running on the Republican ballot in West Virginia for Senate.  Raese believes we don't need public education, and therefore is in favor of abolishing the Department of Education.  This is a horrible and preposterous idea, and for a state like West Virginia it would be detrimental to the entire education system.  West Virginia would fall even further down the education ladder.  What would happen to the children who receive free and reduced lunches at schools that are publicly funded? Raese's plan is a "voucher" system with many private and charter schools being instituted.  Nobody knows where the money will come from.  The kids who can't afford it will, I suppose, not attend school.

Raese is also in favor of getting rid of the minimum-wage, Department of Energy, and would rather make money than create jobs.  Class act. 

Are these really the kind of people we need in Congress?  No, but unfortunately some of them may be on their way to Washington.

 

Where is the Coverage for the Contentious Races?

(cross posted from MyFDL)

Christine O'Donnell isn't a witch, she's one of us.  That's great but she is currently trailing Chris Coons by an average 17 points. Carl Paladino enjoys e-mailing bestiality videos with a horse and a women to his friends.  Thats all well and good but Paladino is the only one getting plowed, in the polls.  Andrew Cuomo leads Paladino by a monstrous average of 27 points.  

These two races are some of the least contentious in the country (if you consider how many races are exponentially closer than these two).  Its understandable that the Carl Paladino e-mails and Christine O'Donnell's constant gaffes make good television and provide decent entertainment, but why can't we get decent coverage on races that are actually up in the air?

Its disappointing to see the lack of coverage in races that have a lot at stake.  For example, look at the senate election heating up in Wisconsin.  Russ Feingold (D-WI) has been in office for 17 years and is looking to lose his seat to a little-known businessman, Ron Johnson.  Feingold should have had a safe seat, but due to the growing discourse among Democrats this season, a good Democrat could face an early end to his Senate career.  

One of the most exciting, and one that could define this election cycle, is the Illinois Senate race.  Barack Obama's Senate seat is up for grabs and this time its not being sold by Rod Blagojevich!  Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D-IL) is running a close race against Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL).  Both candidates have a lot of baggage that has crippled them in their campaigns to an extent.  Giannoulias has been in hot water due to allegations of shady banking operations with his family bank, Broadway Bank.

*Giannoulias was pressed by Gregory over what he know about loans made to organized crime figures by the Giannoulias family owned Broadway Bank when he was a loan officer. Kirk has made those loans by the bank--which failed in April--a centerpiece of his campaign.

Asked if he knew that there were crime figures the bank was loaning money to, Giannoulias said "We did not know the extent of that activity," and when asked again, said "I did not know the extent of their activity."

(Source: Chicago Sun-Times Blog)

Rep. Kirk has also seen his fair share of controversy during this campaign, regarding his military service record.  Kirk claimed to receive the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award, when in fact he didn't.

But Kirk first drew scrutiny when he claimed he was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year. It turns out he didn't win that award. Rather, in 2000, the National Military Intelligence Association awarded the intelligence unit led by Kirk the Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Navy Reserve Intelligence Award, which honors exceptional achievement by outstanding intelligence professionals. And Kirk was tapped to physically accept the award at the National Military Intelligence Association’s annual awards banquet.

Kirk has since acknowledged that he incorrectly referred to himself as the "Intelligence Officer of the Year."

"Most importantly, I wasn't thinking," Kirk said in a press conference. "This was a carelessness that did not reflect well upon me."

(Source:  Politifact)

Again, another great race overshadowed by the stupidity of people like O'Donnell and Paladino.

 

Another great race, and one near and dear to me, seeing very little coverage is the West Virginia senate race.  This is a special election, and the term being fought for is only to finish Byrd's term (2 years; 2012).  John Raese, probably one of the most divisive Tea-Party candidates in this election season, has barely seen the light of day among the media with the bat-shit crazy likes of Christine O'Donnell hogging the coverage.

With a week left before election day, Joe Manchin III has expanded his lead over Republican candidate and Tea Party backed John Raese.  The West Virginia Senate race has seen a shift in support recently to Raese, as Joe Manchin has been painted off as a "rubber-stamp for Barack Obama."   Manchin, of course, was quick to fight back with his opposition to the Cap and Trade Bill as well as his adoption of the term "Obamacare."

Recent reports from Watchdog.org show that Manchin has outraised Millionaire Plutocrat John Raese by a significant margin, and polls are starting to lead towards Manchin's way once again.

With just over one week until West Virginia voters pick the successor to Sen. Robert C. Byrd, and Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democratic candidate, is bringing in more campaign contributions than Republican opponent John Raese.

According to Federal Election Commission campaign disclosure reports, Manchin brought in $2.8 million in donations between the beginning of August and the end of September. Raese, on the other hand, brought in $1.9 million; nearly a million less than Manchin.

It is important to note that of the $1.9 Million Raese has raised, $1.42 has come from his own pocket.  Raese's personal financing of his senate bid may end up netting him losses given the current polling trend.

Manchin, as it is also worth mentioning, receives heavy endorsements from coal and energy firms such as X-Coal Energy Resources, Patriot Coal, Kanawha Eagle Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, etc.  It is clear who big coal endorses in this race.  That doesn't stop Raese though, who is the owner of Greer Industries (which operates one of the biggest limestone producers in West Virginia).

Raese has built his campaign's foundation on his opposition to President Obama.  His most well-known ad features him trolling the streets while proclaiming "I won't be a rubber-stamp for Barack Obama."  This has sat well with West Virginia voters given their opposition towards President Obama.

What has been peculiar is the tightness of this race.  Joe Manchin, for the most part, has seen a very high approval rating for himself (averaging at about 70% for his stint as Governor).  So why is he having so much trouble?  The D next to his name.  Voters in West Virginia are increasingly apprehensive to vote for a Democratic, which most can assume is attributed to Barack Obama's Presidency.  Voters in the Mountain State generally aren't supporting the President's policies, and they see electing another Democrat as an endorsement of these policies.

This is why Manchin has been quick to distance himself from the President, much to the same tune as other Democrats across the country are as they fight for their respected seats.

The latest PPP poll shows Manchin 6 point lead heading into the week before election Tuesday.  That, on top of a +10 margin produced from a Marshall University poll last week, has put him slightly ahead of Raese.

Personally, we need a blug dog Democrat more than we need a Tea Party Patriot representing West Virginia in the Senate.  A vote for John Raese is a vote endorsing the former regressive policies of the Bush Administration, eliminating the departments of education and energy, and a slew of other extremely right-wing policies.  A man who lives in Florida and Colorado, in addition to West Virginia, and received an endorsement from Former-Governor Sarah Palin for his race in Pennsylvania (where she thought Raese was running) is trying to take over the Senate seat that was once held by the late, great Senator Robert C. Byrd.

It would be a shame to see Raese take hold of Byrd's old seat.

Yes, Christine O'Donnell and Carl Paladino (and of course the Rent is Too Damn High Party's Jimmy McMillan) are all interesting and entertaining.  However, neither of these races hold any competitive value anymore.  There needs to be more focus on the races that still matter.

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