Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Secession Strategy

Pat Buchanan riffing on the results of 2014 mid-term elections in the US:
As Jeremy Peters of the New York Times wrote in the paper’s lead story a week before the elections:
“Democrats in the closest Senate races in the South are turning to racially charged messages — invoking Trayvon Martin, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim-Crow era segregation. 
“The images and words they are using are striking for how overtly they play on fears of intimidation and repression.” 
The ads worked. But while Dixie Democrats rolled up landslides among black voters, Michelle Nunn, daughter of Sen. Sam Nunn, carried only 27 percent of the white vote in Georgia, and was wiped out. 
As ethnonationalism pulls at the seams of many countries of Europe, it would appear it is also present here in the United States. When political appeals on the basis of race and ethnicity are being made openly by liberal Democrats, as in 2014, we are on a road that ends in a racial-ethnic spoils system — and national disintegration.
The way to get to national breakup from where we are now is to have non-Southern whites follow the political trail blazed by Southern whites over the last four decades. Over that period of time they've only tiptoed in that direction through the Reagan years and have more-or-less stayed put since then. It's an open question as to whether or not whites will continue to vote for a Democratic party in which they, and by extension their interests--both practical and ideological--have become a minority in the disaffected coalition.

The implementation of the "Southern Strategy" Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater first adopted in the late sixties meshes pretty well with the inception of the GSS, which began in 1972. The following graph shows mean partisan affiliation among whites in the South (West South Central, East South Central, and South Atlantic regions in Census terminology) and whites in the rest of the country over the last forty years. Affiliation is on a 0-6 scale with 0 being "strong Democrat" and 6 being "strong Republican":

This trend--most exemplified in the Deep South states of Alabama and Mississippi, where whites voted against Obama in 2008 by margins of 88%-10% and 88%-11%, respectively--coupled with the region's history, suggests that serious future attempts at secession will first spring to life in the South. Though it surely makes every good SWPL cringe to think that as goes the South, so might go the US, there it is.

Once politics has undeniably devolved into a naked spoils system where demographics is the primary driver of electoral behavior for whites (as it already is for blacks and to a lesser extent for Hispanics), secession will begin to seem less like a bitter, abstract overreaction akin to moving to Canada if George W. Bush is re-elected and more like something as conceivable and palpable as Scotland's narrowly defeated attempt to secede from Great Britain or Catalonia's overwhelming desire to separate from Spain.

GSS variables used: RACE(1), PARTYID, YEAR, REGION(1-4,8-9)(5-7)


Orthodox said...

Interesting that the trend stops in the early 1990s, right when the communist countries stopped "sending" us their escapees and started sending us their bums.

Anonymous said...

Politicians using race to garner votes.
I am shocked! Shocked!

hailtoyou said...

This graph implies that "3.0" equals an equal division of the White electorate between Republican and Democratic loyalty.

The "Rest of the U.S." was above 3.0 (i.e., leaning Republican) for most of the period between the mid-1980s and early 1990s, then again in the mid-2000s. Then the economic meltdown ("the Diversity Recession") happened.

hailtoyou said...

I like the work you've done here with this data, but there is certainly a limit to this analysis.

To wit: I'd be interested in the share of politically-minded Whites who reject both parties from a 'far-right' perspective. Hard to measure for two reasons: (1) When measuring non-identification with parties, you will get many who are apolitical and others who are left-wing. (2) Many who totally reject the system still play by its rules, vote, and all the rest. So perhaps guesswork will have to do.

Audacious Epigone said...


Non-affiliated conservative is an option for trying to measure what you're trying to measure. "Conservative" and "right-wing" are probably seen as synonyms by most people, at least for the purposes of a survey like the GSS.

Anonymous said...

Great, thanks for your analysis of the inevitability is session. It sems incredible that so many years after the breakup of the USSR, the first multi-racial empire, that it would take so long for these centripetal forces to arrive here.

JayMan said...

This is the map to watch: