Sunday, November 07, 2010

We are doomed (economically), and other 2010 mid-term election observations

++Addition++Patrick Cleburne notes that I disagree with the idea that immigration is a winning issue for the GOP. That's a product of poor communication on my part, not my actual sentiments. I'm just speculating that going as far as Angle did may have been politically counterproductive. I suspect (and the exit polling data appears to support me) that people who are seriously concerned with immigration will seek out politicians' stances on it, so making it a campaign centerpiece is unnecessary and runs the risk of opening one up to all the usual point-and-sputter charges of racism, bigotry, hate, etc.


California's Proposition 19 was shot down at nearly identical rates by race. Like American Idol and Monday Night Football, the attempt to legalize marijuana use among those old enough to drink is something people of every color can appreciate, or in this case, object to:

White (60%)46%54%
Black (10%)47%53%
Hispanic (22%)45%55%
Asian (4%)39%61%
Other (3%)48%52%

The partisan differences are far more distinct, however:


Without taking this into consideration, we'd miss the fact that non-white Democrats fell in between independent whites and Republican whites in their levels of opposition to Prop 19. Support only came from white Democrats which, even in solidly blue California, wasn't enough to get it passed. There's a take-home message or two here for SWPLs.

Arizona and Colorado each had propositions (actually an amendment to the state constitution in the case of the latter) on healthcare up for voter consideration that were similarly designed to challenge the Obama plan. As expected, in both states conservatives and Republicans were the most supportive of the propositions, liberals and Democrats the least so, with moderates and independents in between.

Far more remarkable (and in my opinion, encouraging) was how the age trend ran in the opposite direction it so consistently runs on other issues largely defined by party affiliation. Young people were most supportive of the propositions and, by extension, are the least supportive of Obamacare. In Arizona:

18-29 (10%)60%40%
30-44 (21%)55%45%
45-64 (42%)57%43%
65+ (28%)50%50%

In Colorado, the 18-29 age range was too small to reliably report a breakdown for, but the trend is similar:

18-29 (9%)N/AN/A
30-44 (22%)48%52%
45-64 (47%)48%52%
65+ (21%)43%57%

Young adults appear to understand that a socialized healthcare system is one in which they will be paying for benefits their elders will enjoy without getting anything in return. With the inversion of the age pyramid that is taking place across the Western world, the young are already going to be dealing with increasing demands on their resources from social security and other old age entitlements that are not tied directly to healthcare. They are understandably reluctant to take on the burdens Obamacare will inevitably place on them.

I wonder if supporters of the Arizona and Colorado propositions were aware of how the age element played into the results. This was the first general election in which such propositions directly challenging Obamacare could be put to the voting public, so waiting until 2012 would've meant passing up the earliest opportunity. But it also would've meant a higher percentage of the electorate would've been in the 18-29 year old range. In Arizona, it didn't matter--Prop 106 passed. In Colorado, however, amendment 63 narrowly went down to defeat.

Moving to the congressional elections, following President Obama's victory in the 2008 election, Half Sigma decried the GOP becoming a party of poor, dumb whites, citing Obama's victory among the highest income voters. Two years later, the clarion call is sounding a bit silly. One of the good (or convenient, anyway) things about stagnating per capita wealth in the US over the last decade is that like comparisons among voters by income range can be made across election cycles. The following table shows the percentage of voters who voted for the Democrat in their district's House race ('06 and '10) and who voted for Obama ('08):


More than half of all voters earning more than $200,000 a year supported Obama. A couple of years later, only one-third of high income earners voted Democrat. The country's most affluent swung farther back to the right--a full 17 points--than any other income group--where swings ranged from 2 to 9 points--did between '08 and '10. Either Obama is a uniquely SWPL candidate, or a lot of people didn't know who they were voting for. Everywhere exit polling was conducted and reported at the state level showed that income and voting Republican correlated positively with two exceptions; the uber SWPL state of Oregon, where the trend mostly ran in the opposite direction, and Delaware, where income wasn't much of a factor.

Contingent upon the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, I suspect the latter will prove to be the case, with many high income earners abandoning Obama in his reelection bid. On the brighter side for the left, however, post-graduates who don't make jack shit are still reliably Democratic!

Kudos to the media establishment for preferring the term "independent" to "moderate" when referring to swing voters. Among self-described moderates, Republicans gained a relatively paltry 6 points between '08 and '10 (and still lost them as a group, 42%-55%). Among self-described independents, though, the swing was more than twice that, at 13 points, for a 56%-38% victory. Parenthetically, moderate is a potential answer to the question on political ideology, while independent is a potential response to the question on party identification.

Despite disingenuous admonitions to Republicans about becoming the "party of no" from leftist commentators on NPR and NBC, 56% of the electorate asserted that the government needs to hear a lot more noes than it has been hearing lately ("government is doing too much"). Only 38% said the "government should do more".

Ideally, rather than asking specifically about illegal immigration, exit polls would query voters on immigration in general. The illegal adjective has negative connotations for most people, and consequently when asked to choose the most important issue among a list of several, those who identify illegal immigration as the most pressing are probably more restrictionist than would be the case if the issue in question was regarding immigration policy in general. Or more precisely, those who might choose immigration as their most important issue instead of say, healthcare, still choose healthcare if the immigration choice is limited to one concerning only illegal immigration.

That said, there are plenty of people out there who care about illegal immigration and want to make it easier for those who are illegal to become legal residents, in some cases by merely being present in the US and wanting to live here. And among those who care about illegal immigration the most, Republicans won big, 69%-26%. The pragmatic lesson here for politicians is that (in the general election) restrictionism wins, but it doesn't need to be a centerpiece of their campaigns.

Far from being an unfortunate curmudgeonly exception to the ebullient optimism of the American people, a plurality of voters basically agree with the Derb that we are doomed:

Life for the next generation will be...
About the same26%

For those hoping to see pessimism reclaimed, consider an even greater reason to be optimistic! In three seemingly random states that held a Senate and/or gubernatorial election--Colorado, Florida, and Ohio--exit pollsters asked voters whether the economy was in a normal downturn or in long-term decline:

US economy is in... ColoradoFloridaOhio
Normal downturn22%23%22%
Long-term decline72%73%77%

Whether you're from the mountain west, the Ohio valley, or the sunshine state, sing it from the rooftops: We are doomed!

Less happily, most Republicans continue to be sunny on the war in Afghanistan. A little over a month ago, Pat Buchanan wrote a column presaging a splitting of the blanket by the tea party wing and war wing of the new GOP. Looks like the latter has the advantage of strength in numbers:

War in AfghanistanApprove (40%)
Disapprove (54%)

Those opposed to the war are a minority (within the GOP; it's the majority opinion more generally), but at least they are now a substantial one.

In a series of email exchanges I had with the late Richard Nadler, the open borders conservative pointed to John McCain's strong performance among Hispanics in his '04 Senate reelection campaign, in which he won 70% of their votes. But he also won 77% of the white vote, illustrating Steve Sailer's observation that Hispanics tend to vote as whites do, shifted several points to the left.

Six years later, McCain won reelection again. His good fortune was sealed in the primary when he defeated JD Hayworth, but apparently his triumph there did not come without cost. After a decade of being the GOP establishment's front man on amnesty, one nebulous ad about completing "the danged fence" and his Hispanic support vanished* (so goes the media narrative, anyhow). He lost 40%-57% among Hispanics to Rodney Glassman, whose campaign stance on immigration was almost indistinguishable from McCain's.

Yet McCain still sailed to an easy victory because he won the far more important white vote by a wide margin, 64%-29%. It's still one person, one vote after all!

Despite the presumption many have of Christine O'Donnell as a Christian kook, she won among whites in Delaware, 51%-45%. She lost her Senate bid because more than one-fifth of the state's electorate is black, and blacks voted against her 93%-6%, nearly the same rate that blacks voted for Obama in the '08 presidential election. C'mon, don't act surprised. You know how black guys feel about white girls who won't put out!

In most states with large Hispanic populations and a Senate election taking place, exit pollsters asked voters an absurdly dichotomous question about whether most illegal immigrants should be "offered legal status" or "deported". Strangely enough, the question was left out in Florida! Could it be that the majority of those favoring deportation voted for a Hispanic guy and against a white guy? That doesn't fit the narrative and simply must be kept from the public at all costs!

Along with their opposition to federal healthcare mandates, Kentucky offers another reason to find joy in the phrase "the children are our future". Rand Paul pulled off a nearly impossible feat for a Republican in a tight statewide election--he won the 18-24 year old vote, 52%-47%. While I'm a bit wary of how he'll vote on immigration legislation, he embodies my sentiments more than any of the other 99 Senators he'll be sharing the chamber with next year.

Initial exit polling data was reported to show that Sharron Angle had taken a black-like shellacking among Hispanics in Nevada's Senate election. As it turns out, her performance among Hispanics (30%-68%) was in line with Republicans nationwide (34%-64%). It's hardly surprising that given eligibility for affirmative action benefits, low levels of educational attainment, low incomes, high rates of poverty, and high rates of welfare usage, Hispanics are going to find a home in the Democratic party. Very few currently backing Democrats would otherwise be inclined to vote Republican if only the GOP would listen to Bryan Caplan.

Finally, a conundrum from Washington. Patty Murray, the Democrat, won among those aged 45 and older, 54%-46%, but Dino Rossi, the Republican, won among those aged 18-44 by an identical 54%-46%. Hey, I only claimed that Rand Paul's feat was nearly impossible.

* His Arizonan support, anyway. McCain was never able to persuade many Hispanics to back him in '08, even though as I wrote a month before the election, he could not have asked for a more favorable Democratic opponent to be running against as far as garnering the Hispanic vote was concerned:

We have the highest-profile open borders member of the GOP's national leadership, who teamed up with Ted Kennedy in an amnesty attempt that united the public in opposition and who virtually barred restrictionists from the Republican National Convention, running against Obama, who lost the Hispanic vote 64%-36% [to Hillary Clinton, during the Democratic primaries], a margin less favorable than Bush enjoyed among Hispanics in '04. Could you [, Richard Nadler,] ask for a better setup? Yet McCain is getting massacred by Obama among Hispanics. The polls show him losing the Hispanic vote 59%-29%, an Obama advantage that has held steady for several months.


Will said...

Oregon conducts all voting by mail in ballot. Therefore there is no "exit polling." This could significantly skew results depending on the method used to collect the distribution of voters.

silly girl said...

"Oregon conducts all voting by mail in ballot."

Well, now we know why it is a democrat state. Vote by mail is easily the most vulnerable to fraud.

Anonymous said...

Oregon Voting

Audacious Epigone said...

I recall having been made aware of Oregon's vote by mail in a previous post but forgot about it. Seems like an intolerably vulnerable system to me. Of course, it would be even worse in a state like Louisiana or Illinois.


Any idea how exit polling is even attempted, then? By randomly sending out questionnaires or door-to-door surveying? How unreliable.

Anonymous said...

Another great post. Was the "series of email exchanges" thing an inside joke, though? I only found your open letter.

Anonymous said...

Washington also conducts voting by mail in all but one county. This
results in extreme slowness in re-
porting of returns, with over 16%
of the votes remaining to be counted as of today, a week after the election, in Spokane county.

OneSTDV said...

I'm surprised by the legalize weed numbers being so low. I imagine opposition is only that high amongst voters, not the general population.

If only potheads weren't so lazy.

Audacious Epigone said...


Yeah, sort of. I followed up a couple of times but only received short replies that he was busy but wanted to engage me when he had the time. Then, rather unexpectedly, he died, and that was that.


If California had voting by mail, maybe it would've passed!

Anonymous said...

"California's Proposition 19 was shot down at nearly identical rates by race. Like American Idol and Monday Night Football, the attempt to legalize marijuana use among those old enough to drink is something people of every color can appreciate, or in this case, object to:"

Beautifully put.

Will legalizing pot be like instituting gay marriage?

So far no state has got 50.01% of voters to support gay marriage.

Anonymous said...

From what I can gather via the net,
Rossi is a lot smarter and and a hell of a lot prettier than Sen. Murray. My guess is that Murray was put over the top by those with fond memories of Harry Bridges and Gus Hall.

Stopped Clock said...

There's been a lot of "outreach" campaigns by Republicans to make young people realize that they have nothing to gain and huge amounts to lose from the new healthcare bill.

Dems use "young adults are crucial to funding our healthcare bill" as a euphemism for "We've decided to quadruple the cost of your insurance to pay off the bills run up by the people who've had cheap health insurance all their lives and want to stay that way". That isn't enough to get them to actually vote Republican, but it seems to have been enough to make a difference at least when it comes to single issue referendums like this.

Stopped Clock said...

I suspect Half Sigma is right about the Republicans becoming a party of "poor dumb whites" at least in the long run. I don't agree, however, that this is necessarily a bad thing. After all the Democrats were basically that for 150 years and it doesn't seem to have done much damage to them. I know that what he's really getting at is that the leadership of the party is also becoming dumb (perhaps due to a smaller divide in the GOP between the leadership and the voters), but I don't see enough evidence of that.

Anonymous said...

"I suspect Half Sigma is right about the Republicans becoming a party of "poor dumb whites" at least in the long run."

Yeah, but poor dumb whites are still smarter than affluent NAM's and both know it. Heck, even the NY Times knows it.

Anonymous said...

"I suspect Half Sigma is right about the Republicans becoming a party of "poor dumb whites" at least in the long run."

Do poor dumb whites vote as stupidly as democrats?

Do poor dumb whites have as few children as white dems?

Rednecks may save our bacon yet.