Sunday, January 20, 2008

South Carolina and Nevada; Identity politics (and dreadful senescence!)

++Addition++Hibernia Girl points to Peter Brimelow's pithy take on the results from the two states that is similar to mine. Or I should say, mine is similar to his, since he wrote it first. I hate repeating the ideas of another without giving apropos, but I hadn't read the VDare blog for a couple of days before putting together the following post. So think of it as adding some hard numbers to Brimelow's insight.

Also, I disagree with Brimelow's characterization of the vote as tribalistic--I think "identity politics" is a better phrase. Trend-bucking young bucks are more likely to vote for trend-bucking old bucks. White women for other women, but white male Democrats more likely to side with Obama than Hillary. Military vets with the military man, McCain. Then again, black women went with race over gender by huge margins. So perhaps we should split the baby--whites are more into the "identity" game, as they are, on average, most able to see themselves in a person of another ethnic/racial group or even gender, and other groups, especially blacks, as tribalistic.


Scrolling through the exit poll results from South Carolina and Nevada, I made an observation that is hardly novel--identity politics have a lot of explanatory power. And as the US continues on the road to an increasingly diverse demographic mix, the trend will only be accentuated.

- In South Carolina, among Evangelicals and born-again Christians, Huckabee took McCain, 43%-27%. In uncompetitive Nevada, Huckabee's proportion of the Evangelical/born-again vote was more than seven times his proportion of the rest of the vote.

- Among those who have served in the military, McCain took Huckabee, 36%-29%. That's not an enormous gap, and it represented just one-fourth of primary voters. But among the three-fourths who have never served in the military, McCain and Huckabee drew, at 32% a piece. Looking at it from this perspective, the military vote gave McCain the win.

- In Nevada, among women, Hillary took Obama, 51%-38%.

- Among blacks, Obama took 83% of the vote.

- In an epigone's attempt at autodidact-ism, awhile back I tried to understand the OJ Simpson murder trial that I'd been in elementary school during. Steve Sailer provided a lot of help with a quick comment:
Johnnie Cochran was a lot smarter than Marcia. He wanted to stack the jury with blacks, she wanted to stack it with women, so they ended up with a disproportionate number of black women. Johnnie was right.
Black women went just as strongly for Obama as black men did. Thus, of the major gender/racial groups, white women and black women were the most disparate duo. Relative to white women, black women were ten times as likely to 'ditch' gender in favor of something that struck closer to home.

- Also in Nevada, with Bill Richardson out of the race, among Hispanics, Hillary took Obama, 64%-26%. Despite the 'solidarity' of racial interest group leaders, Hispanics and blacks have a rocky relationship. Democrats have worried Hispanics will not vote for a black candidate. That concern is apparently well-founded.

There are a couple of other points of interest:

- In a mock Republican Presidential debate I participated in (as Ron Paul), Jack Cashill, playing Mitt Romney, fielded a question from a serious Christian who was concerned about his Mormonism. Jack (who is actually Catholic) responded not with an apologetic about the faith, but by pointing out that 'we' (Mormons) have the most kids and vote the most heavily Republican. Nevermind what we believe, the important thing is that we get it done!

Mormons are one of the few significant (the only?) non-WASP demographic groups that consistently and overwhelming vote Republican. In Nevada, 3% of those who voted on in the Democratic contest were Mormon. For the GOP, they comprised 26% of the total (of which a staggering 95% backed Romney). In 2004, President Bush performed better in Utah than any other state.

- The political future of the US is in the hands of old fogies. In each of the three contests (SC for the GOP, Nevada for each party), those 60 years and older made up more than one-third of the voting participants. On the Republican side in Nevada, they comprised 45% of the total.

Privatized accounts? Index SS benefits to inflation instead of wages? Raising the 401(k) and IRA penalty-free withdrawal ages? And I thought 'protecting Social Security' was a 'populist' issue now!


Fat Knowledge said...

You know I was looking at the exit polls and thinking the same thing you wrote up here.

I think you missed one though. The 72 year old McCain easily won the over 60 crowd in South Carolina.

I think identity politics helps out Clinton the most, as her minority is actually a majority.

Good point on the increasing number of old voters and the difficulty with which it will take to change Social Security. Along with this, it makes it harder for a candidate like Obama who gets his support from younger voters to win. There have been comparisons of Obama with JFK, but I wonder if Kennedy could have won in 2008 with the different age demographics (I am assuming that he got lots of support from younger voters, I tried to find exit polls from 1960, but Google isn't hooking me up). Likewise if the age demographics of '60 were still the same today (meaning fewer old people), I wonder if Obama would have won either New Hampshire or Nevada. Damn you higher life expectancy! :)

Audacious Epigone said...


I'm going to post an update on a few other interesting bits that came to my head during the course of the day.

The reason I didn't point out the age factor is because solidarity hasn't been a consistent thing on the GOP side. In New Hampshire, Romney did better as the voters got older, even beating McCain among 65+. It was the only age category in which he overcame McCain--he lost the other 4 age groups (and of course the state as well).

And Ron Paul, who is also 72, does better the younger the voters. I'd guess 'experience' more than age explicitly (although the two tend to proxy) is what the older folks are more concerned with.

Re: Clinton, I agree. While her 'minority' isn't the most heavily skewed, it's enormous and it doesn't pose the same off-putting risks that a black-white split, for Obama and Clinton respectively, do for Obama, who is inevitably going to come out with the short end of the stick on a national level.

Re: JFK, etc, I agree again, and it touches on what I want to update the post for.

undergroundman said...

Mormons aren't WASPs? While technically correct, Mormons consider themselves Christians, and I'd say that they are basically an extreme of WASPishness. :p

Audacious Epigone said...


I was thinking something similar. In that they are conservative, with large families, low unemployment and poverty rates, and have a cultural ethos that is skeptical of the libertine lifestyle, you're right.

Then again, you might say something along the same lines about secular Jews being an extreme of affluent white liberalism.

A Pew survey found the public feels less comfortable with the idea of a Mormon President than with one who is elderly, Hispanic, female, or black. So in that sense, they are a conspicuous group, separate from Protestant America.