Why Don’t Republicans Use the Word “Middle-Class”?

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

The 2008 presidential election was all about the middle-class. Americans worried about how the recession would affect the middle-class, whether or not the middle-class was in decline, and what could be done to revive the middle-class.

What’s strange, however, is that only one side was using the term “middle-class.”

Take a look at the debate transcripts.

In the first presidential debate, Democratic candidate Barack Obama says “middle-class” three times.

In the second presidential debate, Democratic candidate Barack Obama says “middle-class” six times.

In the third presidential debate, Democratic candidate Barack Obama says “middle-class” five times.

Republican candidate John McCain doesn’t mention the middle-class once.

This pattern isn’t just confined to 2008. Compare, for instance, Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican president George W. Bush. Mr. Bush, like Mr. McCain, didn’t use the word “middle-class” once during his acceptance of the 2000 presidential nomination. On the other hand, Mr. Kerry spoke of the “middle-class” eight times during his acceptance of the 2004 presidential nomination.

The pattern continues today. In the most recent Republican primary debate, the word “middle-class” once again was nonexistent.

Republicans do seem to use synonyms for middle-class. Senator John McCain spoke about “middle-income” individuals three times during the debates. In the most recent Republican primary debate, former Senator Rick Santorum talked about the “broad middle” three times, and former Governor Tim Pawlenty used the term ”middle-income” once. (President George W. Bush didn’t use either term in his acceptance speech, on the other hand.)

Nevertheless, there is a strange reluctance amongst the Republican Party to talk about the middle-class. Perhaps Republicans don’t like the word “class.” They might think it has a relationship to class warfare, even though the term “middle-class” is a very neutral word.

They should get over it. Refusing to talk about the middle-class opens the door to Democratic attacks that Republicans don’t care about the middle class. And of course the Republican Party cares about America’s middle class. Don’t they?



Analyzing the 2010 Midterm Elections – the Pennsylvania Senate Election

This is a part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. This post will analyze the Pennsylvania Senate election, in which Republican Pat Toomey won a narrow victory over Democrat Joe Sestak in a Democratic-leaning state.

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

Pennsylvania’s Political Structure

This map, modified from the New York Times website, provides a very useful visualization of the election. Democratic strength in Pennsylvania is very concentrated. The black vote helps Democrats win Philadelphia (by an enormous margin) and Pittsburgh (by a lesser one). Working-class whites in places like Erie, Scranton (which is the blue dot at the top-right corner of the map), and southwest Pennsylvania also generally vote Democratic. Or they used to, at any rate. Finally, wealthy whites in the suburbs of Philadelphia and the LeHigh Valley are also voting increasingly Democratic.

Republicans, on the other hand, generally win everywhere else. They are dominant in rural, conservative central Pennsylvania and the exurbs of the Philadelphia metropolis.

A strong Democrat will win all the areas of the Democratic base and then expand to win areas of the Republican coalition. Here is President Barack Obama, for instance:

Mr. Obama doesn’t just win the Democratic base, he does quite strongly in the exurbs of Philadelphia. Notice how much better he does in the Republican stronghold of Lancaster County (the biggest red circle in the first map) than Mr. Sestak does.

A strong Republican candidate, on the other hand, will win all the areas of the Republican base and then expand to win areas of the Democratic coalition. Republican Governor Tom Corbett, for instance, actually won Allegheny County, which Pittsburgh is located in.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey didn’t do so well. He won the Republican parts of Pennsylvania, but lost the Democratic parts of Pennsylvania. In normal elections, when this happens the result looks something like this:

This is the 2004 presidential election, in which Senator John Kerry barely won Pennsylvania. He did this without making any gains into Republican Pennsylvania. The Democratic parts of Pennsylvania just barely outnumber the Republican parts of Pennsylvania, which is why Pennsylvania is a Democratic-leaning state.

In 2010, however, Mr. Toomey – riding on a strong Republican wave – was able to overwhelm the Democratic parts of Pennsylvania. Mr. Toomey was able to squeeze enough blood out of the Republican exurbs and rural counties to win.

This is a fascinating result because it doesn’t happen that often. More often the result looks like 2004. The 2010 Pennsylvania Senate election thus constitutes a model of a Republican overwhelming Philadelphia and Pittsburgh without making many gains into Democratic territory.


Let’s compare Mr. Toomey’s performance with Mr. Obama’s performance:

As this image shows, there was a very uniform shift rightwards from 2008 to 2010; almost every county moved Republican by double-digits.

There are some interesting subtleties here. The Republican exurbs of Philadelphia, where Mr. Obama did so well, snapped back very strongly rightwards. On the other hand, Mr. Sestak actually did better in parts of southwest Pennsylvania – a Republican-trending region which was particularly uninspired by Mr. Obama.

There is an economic dimension to this. Republican Pat Toomey ran a campaign based on themes, such as free trade, which appealed more to well-off voters. Democrat Joe Sestak, on the other hand, ran a campaign based on more populist themes. We thus see Mr. Toomey doing particularly well in the rich parts of Pennsylvania, such as the LeHigh Valley or Lancaster County. Conversely, he actually did a bit worse than Senator John McCain in the poorest parts of the state: the Appalachian southwest and the city of Philadelphia.


Throughout the entire campaign, Democratic candidate Joe Sestak polled considerably behind Republican Pat Toomey. It was only at the end that he started catching up, as Pennsylvania’s Democratic nature asserted itself. However, Mr. Sestak couldn’t quite make it all the way; the Republican wave in 2010 was just too strong.

All in all, these results were very “normal.” This is in the sense that both candidates built very normal coalitions; neither did well in places Republicans or Democrats don’t usually do well in. The state itself shifted fairly uniformly from 2008. No one place behaved like an outlier (unlike the case with other states).

The 2010 Senate election thus constitutes a perfect example of just what a narrow Republican victory in Pennsylvania looks like.



Inside the Nomination Process

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

I recently had the opportunity to have lunch with a lawyer who had worked at the former Bush administration. This individual’s job was guiding and selecting presidential nominees for various posts in government. He was quite young; perhaps in his 30s or 40s. It was quite interesting listening to what he had to say.

Most nominations – around 90%, according to this lawyer – had almost no presidential involvement. This was due to how much stuff the president had on his plate; he generally only personally involved himself in those nominations which required Senate confirmation.

In general, the president gave an outline of what he wanted, such as an individual holding an ideological viewpoint similar to his. Then the staff did all the legwork of choosing, vetting, and sending through the nomination. The president only signed approval at the end. He might sign through multiple nominations, such as a list of eight nominees, at one time.

There is, of course, a background check. Generally the CIA or FBI goes around asking all the people you know for information. They then, with more important nominations, try to go around asking your contacts for more contacts.

Finally, the president prized diversity – something that was quite surprising but encouraging to hear. According to the former lawyer, this was not always very easy to achieve. It’s easy to find diverse candidates in places like New York or Los Angeles, he said. But in places like Minnesota or Missouri it’s a lot harder. The difficulty was multiplied by the fact that the president was looking for nominees of a conservative mind-set. Minorities, of course, are much more likely to vote Democratic and hold liberal views. Finding, for instance, a conservative non-white accomplished lawyer in North Carolina is actually a non-trivial task.

The lawyer told a story about a time they had submitted a list of eight candidates to the president to be signed. The first seven were white males; “we didn’t do it purposedly; it just happened to be that way,” he stated.

The eighth nominee was for Puerto Rico, and had a name similar to Eduardo Perez (I forget the exact name). After looking at the names and signing the president joked, “What, you couldn’t find another white male for Puerto Rico?”

All in all, the conversation was very interesting and informative. A lot of the day-by-day things that go into running the country are unrecorded by the media. It’s good to get some insight into what actually goes on inside things such as the nomination process.

Why Don’t Hmong-Americans Vote Republican?

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Perhaps no group in America has suffered more from Communism than the Hmong community.

The CIA first recruited the Hmong, impoverished tribes living in the hills of Southeast Asia, to help fight the Communists in Vietnam and Laos. When the Communists won in Vietnam and then Laos, the Hmong were persecuted and sent to camps for their anti-communist role. Eventually many found their way as refugees to the United States. They faced opposition from the Clinton administration, but strong support from Republicans enabled most to come to America as immigrants.

How do the Hmong vote?

It’s not always easy to pick out the voting patterns of smaller communities, like the Hmong. One has to take account of many confounding factors, ranging from participation rates to the voting patterns of other communities.

Nevertheless, it seems pretty clear that the Hmong vote Democratic.

There are several lines of evidence behind this statement. Firstly, Hmong elected officials – individuals such as former Minnesota State Representative Cy Thao and former Minnesota State Senator Mee Moua – belong to the Democratic Party. Secondly, Democratic candidates tend to attend official Hmong events. For instance, only Democratic candidate Al Franken attended this Hmong townhall meeting; Republican candidate Norm Coleman was invited but declined the invitation.

Finally, polls indicate that the Hmong vote Democratic. This poll found that 57% of Hmong identify as Democrats, while a mere 4% identify as Republicans. Done before the 2008 presidential election, it also showed Democrat Barack Obama gaining 65% of the Hmong vote, to Republican John McCain’s 4% support.

Those are some pretty stunning numbers. Even if the poll is badly flawed, or has a very leftward bias, it seems safe to say that the Hmong are a strong Democratic constituency.

There is a good reason for this; the Hmong community is quite poor. Indeed, 30.2% of Hmong-Americans receive public assistance income, more than triple the rate amongst Americans overall. Democratic economic policies tend to favor the poor more, and this is a strong draw for the Hmong.

But it’s still quite shocking that the draw of the Democratic Party’s economic policies is so strong as to produce a 57-4 registration advantage among the Hmong. One would think that the Republican Party would do better. After all, Republican lobbying is the reason why many Hmong are today in America, instead of refugee camps in Thailand.

Moreover, the Democratic Party is closer ideologically to the Communist Party which the Hmong fought for decades. This is why Cubans and Vietnamese-Americans, also refugees from Commmunist persecution, vote Republican. And the Hmong have certainly suffered from Communism; Democratic Hmong politicians Cy Thao and Mee Moua both had families who came from Thailand refugee camps.

The ultimate irony is that the very economic policies which put the Democratic Party closer on the ideological spectrum to the Communist Party are the reason why the Hmong vote Democratic.



What It’s Like To Be A Republican Legislator in California

I recently had the opportunity to visit California’s State Assembly and watch the legislature in action. I think this opportunity provided me a deeper understanding of the problem ailing California politics.

The first thing to know is that, if you’re a Republican legislator in California, you are always, always losing. The Democratic Party always sets the agenda. Then a Democratic Assemblyman will introduce a bill. Sometimes the bill is uncontroversial – something like National Mitochrondria Day. Other times the bill is heatedly partisan.

When the bill is partisan, the Republicans will stand up and argue against it. They will be heated. They will be angry – indeed, Republican legislators generally have a much angrier tone than their Democratic counterparts. They will talk about how the Constitution is being violated, how America’s Founding Fathers would look aghast at the bill, how America is a country of liberty, and how the bill is infringing upon America’s freedoms.

And then, when voting time comes, the Republicans lose. The bill they so hate inevitably passes. This is because California is a Democratic state, and the Democrats therefore have a majority. The result is that day in, day out Republicans are losing. They lose every single time. They spend every single minute in the legislature losing.

Except on one issue. California, you see, requires a two-thirds majority to raise taxes (and, until recently, to pass the budget). There are barely enough Republicans in the chamber to deny Democrats the two-thirds majority.

So here, on this one issue, a Republican legislator can win. And what an important issue! Taxes and budgets, after all, are the most important priority for any state.

The California Republican Party blankly refuses to allow tax increases of any kind. Not a dollar, not a dime, not a cent. It never, ever cooperates with the Democratic Party.

It probably feels very good, too, for Republican legislators so tired of losing all the time. How immensely satisfying it must feel for a California Republican legislator to win a victory. Republicans can even tell themselves that they’re doing the state good, since high taxes are of course what’s ruining California.

What’s really hurting California, however, is the legislative gridlock that results from the Republican Party’s refusal to compromise. The party knows that California is a Democratic stronghold, so it will never hold power. But because California requires a two-thirds majority to raise taxes (and, until recently, pass a budget), Republicans can be hostage-takers. That is essentially the only role that California’s Republican Party has.

Eventually the Democratic Party will gain the necessary two-thirds majority. They are already very close, and California is trending left. Then Republicans will truly have no power. One hopes that will provide them enough incentive to change their ideology and politicians in a way that garners more support from California’s diverse population. Otherwise, the party will wither away into nothingness.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 


Packing Native Americans

This is the last part in a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack AsiansblacksHispanics, and whites.

Packing Native Americans

Alone out of all the ethnicities examined, there are not enough Native Americans in the United States to form a majority Native American congressional district. Indeed, Native Americans compose a mere 0.9% of America’s total population.

Native American living patterns tend to be extremely segregated. Native American reservations tend to be 90-100% Native American; outside the reservation their numbers drop to nearly zero. There are not enough reservations in any state to make a congressional district merely by joining together all the reservations.

The five states with the highest percentage of Native Americans are Alaska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and finally Montana. Unfortunately, all these states - with the exception of Oklahoma - have extremely small population sizes. This makes it very difficult to pack Native Americans. Oklahoma is the exception, but its Native American population is too integrated to effectively pack.

As it turns out, the most Native American district possible is found in Arizona. Take a look at Arizona’s racial demographics. Native Americans are black in this picture (so the darker-colored precincts tend to be more Native American).

From this, it is possible to draw this district:

This is a 26.9% Native American district. There are in fact more Native Americans in this district than Hispanics.

The district goes into several cities which have respectable Native American populations. Here is Flagstaff:

This city, located in northern Arizona, has enough Native Americans that the entire city was put into the district.

Here is Phoenix:

Phoenix is the key to this district. Surprisingly, it has a decent Native American population. It also composes more than half of Arizona’s population. Phoenix thus provides the population padding necessary to create this district.

Finally, here is Tucson:

Overall, this district is quite liberal; it gave President Barack Obama 58.9% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election. Given the fact that Arizona is both a fairly conservative state and Senator John McCain’s home state at the same time, this is quite a good performance for the Democrats. It is all the more impressive considering that the district is barely one-fourth Hispanic.

It does appear that Native Americans voted Democratic, in Arizona at least. But there may be another factor at work here. In many of the Phoenix precincts Native Americans were less than 10% of the population; their voting power was not very great. Nor was the Hispanic population especially great, and Hispanics were certainly not a majority of the electorate. Yet these precincts still voted fairly Democratic. It may be – and this is just a hypothesis – that Native Americans tend to live in areas in which white voters are more liberal.



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.


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.



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.


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!



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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