I was reading an article a friend posted about the impact non-white voters are beginning to have in American elections. Some right-wingers are no doubt indulging in post-election grousing to themselves about how “blacks only vote for blacks” (in the manner of John Sununu, who couldn’t imagine Colin Powell having a better reason for endorsing Obama than his sharing a rough relative proportion of melanin in his skin cells).
At the bottom of the article, in the comments section, was inserted this map, which shows how America would have voted if it weren’t for the votes of non-whites. It is a picture of a bleak and Romneyfied country, to be sure. It is John Sununu’s dream world, though…and don’t think that right-wingers aren’t already crafting their argument about how “brown people won” this election and are prepared to take over.
Demographics is funny, though…because the only reason we have to comment on the role non-white voters played in the election is that blacks, Latinos and Asians all strongly supported President Obama against Mr. Romney, and yet, other groups did strongly support Obama.
Women supported Obama, and we are also starting to hear recriminations about them from the hard right – including one which has blamed Romney’s loss on the “slut vote”. Probably someone will make a map of “what if only men voted”, and for the same reason…to blame America turning away from their ideas on a specific group of people.
One map I’d really like to have seen, as long as we’re splitting the US on the basis of demography is the “what if only non-Jews voted” map. That would have been great for its embarrassment value. According to the exit polls, 69% of Jews in the US voted for Obama. This is part of a connection with the Democratic Party that American Jews have had for decades, but it’s an embarrassing fact because Israelis are supportive of Romney and Romney was beloved by rich American-Israeli donors. For that reason, no right-wingers will be anxious to print up that map showing what a Romney World the US would have been had only Jewish voters stayed home. Likewise, the Palestinian flotilla crowd on the extreme left doesn’t want you to realise how much Jewish voters played a role in sustaining Obama. It might make people think that those who want a safe and secure state of Israel could actually also be on the side of progress or something.
But this map showing “what if only non-whites voted” is kind of interesting nonetheless. Interestingly, we basically have three territorial groups here. There’s a group on the east of the country (the northeastern states, Delaware and DC) which are liberal enough that “even the whites” vote liberal there. There’s also a group on the west of the country (the northwestern states and Hawaii) that are similarly so liberal that “even the whites” vote liberal there.
And then there’s Iowa.
Since I grew up in Iowa, I thought it would be fun to pause for dramatic effect there. But the reason Iowa shows up on this map is not that it’s a particularly liberal state. It’s more that there are very few non-whites there. It’s a state that went for Obama by a whisker, and did so because whites there went for Obama by a whisker.
Still, I must admit, my immediate reaction to this map, as an ex-Iowan who has been upset with the state in which he was raised far more often than happy with it, was to smile. Iowa may still be a very non-diverse place, but its mostly white voters may be less retrograde than white voters in much of the rest of the country. I’m sorry, but that does make me happy. Good on you, Iowa.
The other thing I thought about, not long after that, is an observation I made years ago, during elections in New Orleans. In 1994, Marc Morial defeated Donald Mintz in the mayoral election there.
Morial was treated by most white voters as “the black candidate” and Mintz was similarly treated as “the white candidate”. Exit polling showed, as I recall, that roughly 7500 white people voted for Morial. I was one of them. When I read this information, I commented to others that the entire population of people of white Morial voters could be fit in Privateer Park (the University of New Orleans baseball stadium, which served temporarily as a minor-league stadium until the Zephyrs could move someplace with enough seats for their fans). Indeed, the entire population could have been fit in Privateer Park with space left over in the bleachers.
Everyone talked about it that way. If you were black, people assumed you voted for Morial, if you were white, people assumed you voted for Mintz. But my “white vote” helped Morial win.
Here’s to a bunch of whites too dumb to know they’re voting out of step with their “race”. (And here’s to a map that managed to make me proud of Iowans.)