Saturday, April 05, 2008

Michael Barone examines the Democrat's infighting (Ulster Scots vs Academia)

Michael Barone (who writes the Almanac of American Politics) provides IMO the best analysis of elections and demographics in politics in the country. He wrote an interesting piece on the divide between Obama and Hillary supporters.

From Real Clear Politics

produced deep divisions among Democratic constituencies. It looks something like tribal warfare. Whites have voted, if you average the results from the states, 53 percent to 39 percent for Clinton; blacks, 80 percent to 17 percent for Obama; Latinos, 58 percent to 39 percent for Clinton; Asians, in California (the one primary state where they're numerous enough to gauge), 71 percent to 25 percent for Clinton.

The differences in voting by the young, overwhelmingly for Obama, and the elderly, overwhelmingly for Clinton, are as large as any I can remember in either a primary or general election. Upscale voters are heavily for Obama; downscale voters are heavily for Clinton.

As the contest has continued, increasing percentages of Clinton and Obama voters say they wouldn't vote for the other candidate against John McCain.

But the exit polls don't show another tribal division, one that emerges when you examine the election returns by county and congressional district. In state after state -- from New Hampshire and Michigan to Texas and Ohio -- Obama runs unusually strongly in counties with large universities. Academics -- and I include here those who choose to live in university towns as well as those actually in or teaching school -- seem to find Obama particularly appealing.

I've noticed this for about a year in Obama's case, although I really underestimated Hillary's appeal to blue collar areas. I don't know if that is due to "not being Obama," due to Bill, or due to something else.

Clinton's highest percentages come in counties with large numbers of Latinos and what I call Jacksonians. You can see the latter in counties in what is loosely called Appalachia -- southwest Virginia, southern Ohio, the north end of Georgia, non-metropolitan Tennessee, northern Alabama, northeast Mississippi, all of Arkansas, southern Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, east and central Texas.

These are lands that were settled by the colonial era immigrants from northern England, Scotland and northern Ireland and their descendants, who thronged down the Appalachian chain and then, like their heroes Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston, kept going southwest.

Clinton's strong performance among Jacksonians may reflect her positive appeal (it certainly does in Arkansas), but it also seems to reflect a distaste for Obama. Buchanan County, Va., which borders the yet-to-vote states of West Virginia and Kentucky, voted 90 percent for Clinton and 9 percent for Obama.

What's behind these sharp divisions? You could sum it up by saying that Jacksonians are fighters and academics (and public employees) are not. Jacksonians fought fierce battles against Indians as they moved southwest; they have always made up a disproportionate share of the American military (and were on both sides in the Civil War).

As historian David Hackett Fischer writes in "Albion's Seed," they believe in natural liberty -- I'll leave you alone if you'll leave me alone, but if you attack my family or my country, I'll kill you. Academics are, to say the least, lightly represented in the American military, and in economic terms they tend to compete with the military for public dollars. They seek honor for the work of peace as fiercely as Jacksonians seek honor for the feats of war....

I've read Albion's seed and it is an excellent book comparing the original British settlers who cast their stamp in the US - The Puritains (Yankees) from East England, The Quakers, The Cavaliers (Coastal South), and the Border Scots which settled largely in a stretch of country from Central Pennsylvania down through Florida, and then moved West through the rest of the South, lower Midwest, and then West to much of the inland empire in California. Many of them also settled in Michigan, particulary Downriver and in the auto areas. These four groups to this day are the strongest influence on the landscape and culture in this country - despite those of German origin being a plurality of the population today. The Catholic Irish were largely Jacksonian in voting, and were democrats until social issues started dominating the party. Now (and partly thanks to Reagan), they are on all sides. My own extended family is split politically. I'm less familiar with the Poles and Italians as bloc voters, but I believe the Poles were democrats largely along union lines (less so today), and the Italians factored more on location. None of them were socially liberal as a whole in the working classes.

Now what Barone calls "Jacksonians" largely moved from the largely Presbyterian Borderlands due to conflicts with the Anglicans. They have been fighters for generations. They fought the Romans, the English, the (Catholic) Irish, and in the USA the British, American Indians (although many of the Ulster-Scots also intermarried with American Indians - particulary in the South), and during the Civil War - each other as they fought on both sides. From the borderlands, many settled in Ulster, most of which is now in "Northern Ireland." Andrew Jackson's father was born in County Antrim, which is part of Ulster. It wasn't easy for the Ulster Scots, as their Celtic cousins, the Catholic Irish had no great love for them or vice versa. Sporadic fighting has gone on for hundreds of years during the "Troubles" in Ireland which still go on today, although to a lesser degree. Even the choice of whiskey is important. Jameson is the Catholic drink. Bushmills is the protestant drink. A large number of them moved to the US as indentured servants, and yeoman farmers, and they were pushed to the backlands as the Cavaliers (who were most, although not all of the plantation) had most of the good land near the tidewater in Virginia.

The "Jacksonians" today are often three way swing voters. They used to be largely democrat in most areas, but today much less so. Many of them stay home. Many of them were Perot Voters. Many of them are ticket splitters. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma (Democrats do well on state level), until recently Kentucky, Virginia (Southwest decides the races) today, West Virginia today. All of those are key states. Most of them are not liberals, especially on social issues, but economic issues (that favor both sides) are big to them, and they are not trustworthy of big business - and despise incompetence. In 2006, many of these Jacksonian areas, especially in Indiana and Ohio, taught the GOP a lesson about entitlements. They made the same mistakes the democrats made. The GOP thought they were ENTITLED to those votes. Remember Thomas Frank's bitching about what's the matter with Kansas. He said that they were voting against their best interest. Bullshit. That was the problem. Frank and the other democrats thought they knew what was best for them, which is the problem in the first place. That cost votes right off the bad.

These people voted for Bush twice, and at the same time sent some republican governors home. Don Sundquist pushed for taxes and hurt the GOP bad in Tennessee. Brad Henry ran a great campaign in Oklahoma. West Virginia still ticket splits. Missouri and Ohio have the best track records in the country on presidential voting.

Polling suggests that the Democratic nominee may not be able to count on the losing candidate's tribes in November. Academics and young people and blacks may not turn out in extraordinary numbers for Clinton, as they have for Obama, and the upscale may prefer McCain to a tax increase.

Similarly, Jacksonians, the elderly, the downscale and Latinos may prefer the very Jacksonian McCain to Obama. All of which should worry the super-delegates who must determine who wins the Democrats' tribal war.

It is WAY too early though to make predictions on this. Six months is a lifetime in presidential politics. The good news for the democrats are the severe blunders by the Don Sherwoods and Mark Foleys of the party, as well as Bush's conduct in Katrina and Harriet Miers. The bad news is that the democrats are in bed with the Soros and Hollywood wing of the party on money - which conflicts with everyday Americans. What will happen? Stay tuned.

2 comments: said...

Don't forget that for every Mark Foley there's an Elliot Spitzer... or TWO... popping up for the Dems lately.

And with folks like Tom Athans and Kwame Kilpatrick right here in Michigan... well... suddenly we're dealing with issues we haven't dealt with in a while too.

Do you think Michigan is actually in play?


Unknown said...

I agree with RightMichigan on this. The whole "Culture of Corruption" thing from 2006 is hitting the fan and going right back at the Dems - look at the scandals - William Jefferson, Elliot Spitzer, Kwame, and lets not forget all the controversy around Pelosi. Both parties are weak from this, but the Dems scandals are more recent.

Katrina was in 2005, ancient history in the world of politics.

Nationally, Republicans are extremely vulnerable on two high priority election issues, Iraq and the economy. In theory, Michigan should be ripe for a Republican comeback because we've had 5 years of near depression with a Dem governor and House, but Republicans in Michigan just don't seem able to gain any traction on this issue.

I'd say Michigan is in play for McCain but I'd give good odds to the Dem candidate. It's been a long time since Michigan went for a Republican presidential candidate, and a lot of people are blaming Republicans for the economic problems here. On top of this, McCain is very unpopular here because of his anti-auto industry positions.

Had Romney won the nomination I think he'd have had a better chance of winning Michigan.

The joker creating the uncertainty is the current split that Dan talked about, but that could be long forgetten by November.

And as Dan pointed out, 6 months is an eternity in a presidential race. A LOT can happen between now and then that totally changes everything. Natural disasters, economic turmoil, terrorist attacks, etc . . . any of these things could totally change the focus of the election and move it in an unexpected direction.