Monday, November 19, 2012

A mostly red South on state-by-state map obscures deeper divides: racial and rural-urban, author writes

The state-by-state presidential election map showing a mostly Republican South obscures clearer divides among the electorate: racial and rural-urban, Karen Cox, a history professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, writes in The New York Times.

The author of Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture writes that the "Republican Party has become the bastion of white voters, and not just within the South." But her focus is on rural vs. urban, and on reminding the rest of the country that the South has plenty of liberals like her. But her analysis can only be taken so far, say the political experts at NBC News.

Citing Obama's big margins in Southern cities, and Romney's in rural counties, Cox writes, "They are part of the same urban-rural divide that drives voting everywhere. . . . The same urban-rural divide can also be found in blue states like California and Washington." Romney won 59 percent of the vote in rural counties and 61 percent in exurban counties, which are in metropolitan areas but remain largely rural, according to the Daily Yonder.

Looking to the Republican West, she writes, "They are states with largely rural populations that tend to be less diverse racially and ethnically, and they tend to vote more for conservative Republicans — the same trend found in the rural counties of the bluest of states. . . . In other words, before our liberal allies in blue states point their fingers and scoff, they might want to take a look in their own rural backyards for evidence that their states actually have something in common with the supposedly backward ones in the South."

Cox concludes, "If the Democrats are going to be a true majority party, they will need to build a coalition in all 50 states. So rather than see the South as a lost cause (pun intended), the Democratic Party and liberals north and west of us should put a lid on their regional biases and encourage the change that is possible here."

Chuck Todd and his NBC colleagues write on the network's First Read that Cox's "analysis ignores this evidence from the 2012 exit polls: Obama’s support among white voters in the South was vastly different than white voters in the Midwest. In fact, in all former states of the Confederacy -- including Florida and Virginia, which Obama won -- the president’s share of the white vote was less than the national average. That includes Mississippi and Alabama, where Obama got, respectively, just 10 percent and 15 percent of the white vote. But in all contested battlegrounds in the Midwest, Obama’s support among white voters was higher than the national average." he notes that Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas were among the states without exit polls. (Read more)

No comments: