Democrats & Liberals Archives

Dumb Demographics

Have you ever turned on CNN or other news program and heard an “analysis” of why Clinton won or why Obama won. They slice up the electorate into whites or blacks, male or female, urban or rural , rich or poor, or whatever other categories they fancy. They explain the whole thing.

The explanation takes on the form where Clinton won the white, rural vote and Obama won the blacks and the educated. They claim that their divisions are critical for understanding by pointing out that if only the loser had gotten so much more in these categores he or she would have won.

There is something about this type of explanation that bothered me for some time. Today I found out why when I read Crispin Sartwell's article, Polling Fuzzy Math" in the L.A.Times. His point is that regardless of how you slice up the electorate, you will be able to show that it is pivotal to the results:

But notice that the vote of any like-sized segment is equally explanatory. If most "soccer moms" or most "people ages 35 to 44" or most people "with annual incomes between $50,000 and $70,000" or most "people in the southeast corner of the state" voted for Clinton, we can say that had they voted for Obama, he would have won...... It would be nearly as scientific to rig up any segment of the population and regard it as decisive: blue-collar women, black and white, under 35; black men plus Latino women; left-handed divorcees.

Come to think of it, why do we not take the slice of "left-handed divorcees"?

Sartwell is a philosopher and knows his logic. All this slicing and dicing that news programs perform are worthless. These pundits do not use good logic. They call it demographics. It's dumb demographics.

Posted by Paul Siegel at May 14, 2008 5:03 PM
Comments
Comment #252845

Frankly, what can you expect from the pundits in general. They are always seeking a single phrase to sum up an entire person, a single simplistic concept to validate their viewpoints.

It is not the analysis of the polling which is at fault, it is the interpretation of that information, or the spin put on it.

What is also disturbing is how these demographics are being used to back the claim of a candidate that (OK, let’s be honest) she is strong where the other candidate is weak, and therefore cannot win in November. I cannot tell you how often I have voted for my second (or lower) choice in a general election. This is true of any voter who cast a ballot for a candidate who lost in the primaries.

The critical factor is who are the supporters of a defeated candidate (whatever their demographics) going to vote for in the general election. Have they been so turned off by the battle, or the other candidate that they will either jump to another party, or skip voting?

I am deeply worried that the animosity of the Clintons will damage the fight against McCain and his continuation of the Bush-Republican policies.

When California had its primary, I did not decide for whom to vote until the day I cast my ballot. I now believe that I made the correct choice when, (in spite of my demographics) I chose to support Obama.

All in all at this time in history, I would rather have a statesman than a politician.


Posted by: dana at May 14, 2008 5:55 PM
Comment #252848

dana, we all understand how one achieves the title of “politician” as in Obama, Clinton and McCain. Merely running for public office conveys that title. What criteria would you suggest for the title of “statesman”? Oratory, experience, results, etc. We all can think of successful statesmen such as Roosevelt, Churchill, Reagan, Blair, Pope Paul II and others. Neither Obama, Clinton or McCain qualify as statesmen in my opinion. What say you?

Posted by: Jim M at May 14, 2008 6:09 PM
Comment #252849

IMO I think if HRC dosen’t get the Democratic nomination she will pull a Joe Libermann on you all and run as an independent. She’s a fighter not a quiter. If she does that will really put the screws to the Democratic Party. Also you all know that a lot of her supporters have said they would vote for Mc Cain if she does not get the nod or if she happens to not run as an independent. JUST SOMETHING FOR YOU TO THINK ABOUT.

Posted by: KAP at May 14, 2008 6:19 PM
Comment #252854

Here are the results of a Rasmussen poll taken today. What’s going on with the Dems?

38% of Democrats Want Clinton to Drop Out
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Democratic voters nationwide now believe that Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race for the White House. That’s up slightly from 34% in late April, 32% earlier in April and 22% in late March.

However, if Clinton does not win the Democratic Party nomination, 29% of Democrats say she should run an Independent campaign for the White House. Sixty-one percent (61%) of Democrats disagree. Clinton supporters are evenly divided on the question.

As for Barack Obama, 25% Democrats say he should drop out. That’s down from 22% following the Pennsylvania Primary, 26% earlier in April and unchanged from 22% in March.

Six percent (6%) want both candidates to drop out and 43% aren’t ready for either to leave.

Obama supporters, by an 84% to 8% margin, believe their candidate would be the stronger general election candidate.

By an 82% to 5% margin, Clinton supporters say the same about their candidate.

Rasmussen Reports has stated that the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination is effectively over and that Obama will be the nominee. Rasmussen Markets currently suggests that Obama has an 92.0 % chance of winning the nomination. Obama is essentially even with Republican John McCain in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

By a 67% to 20% mark, Obama supporters say that Clinton should leave the race. But, just 4% of those who support Senator Clinton agree. Forty-four percent of Clinton supporters believe Obama should drop out while 42% disagree.

The national telephone survey also found that 76% of all Democrats now believe it is at least somewhat likely the Democratic nomination will remain unresolved until the Democratic convention in August. That’s down nine percentage points over the past two weeks. Forty-one percent (41%) of all Democrats believe that a decision at the convention is Very Likely. That’s down ten points since the previous survey

Republicans are now evenly divided as to which Democrat they see as the tougher challenge in the fall. That is little changed from the late April survey. Earlier in the year, Republicans were far more likely to see Obama as the stronger Democratic candidate.

Posted by: Jim M at May 14, 2008 7:16 PM
Comment #252864

Personally, I think Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo truly nailed what the real situation is here yesterday. Obama doesn’t have a white voter problem, Appalachia has an Obama problem.
That’s why Obama could win in places like Wisconsin, Vermont, Utah, Missouri, and yesterday Nebraska, but didn’t do as well in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio or Indiana, and really bottomed out in West Virginia. In fact, out of the 20 US states that have the highest percentages of white folks, Obama has won 12 of the races, while Clinton has won five of them. There are three more such states that have yet to vote in the primary.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at May 14, 2008 10:38 PM
Comment #252868

The interesting parts of the demographics for me are the age of the voters, and their level of education. I happened to be looking at the county by county maps of the states that had actual primaries, and I noticed there was one county in New York that went for BHO. I took a wild guess that Ithaca was there, and I was right.

The caucuses are not only less than meaningless, there are still contra-indicatory of election results. The number of voters in some of those is actually a joke, and people claiming caucus wins as a big democratic victory, are self-deluded. BHO’s advisors made those a priority, because that was where they could get him some delegates. The media did the rest.

BHO is under the impression that he has somehow redrawn the electoral map, and that, for example, he is a more viable candidate in VA, where Warner is running for re-election, than WV, where Jay R is running. I don’t think so. Some things he knows and some things he doesn’t.

Posted by: ohrealy at May 14, 2008 11:52 PM
Comment #252872

Politicians look to demographics because they use them to tailor their messages. You are right that it can get out of hand when it is taken too far.

With all due respect, the demographic crap is mostly the fault of Democrats. They pander to groups. Whenever there is any good new of any kind, you can expect Democratic politicians to identify the group that did not benefit.

In this race, it is cleat that Obama has an overwhelming advantage with blacks, who make up a big part of the democratic electorate. He does less well with everybody else. W/o the black vote, Hilary clearly would have won the nomination. That is a reason everybody is interested in demographics. It is decisive this year.

It will make less difference in the general election, BTW. The black vote goes 90%+ for Democrats in almost every election anyway, so that demographic was never in play in November. Democrats take the black vote for granted.

This accounts for the fact that McCain still often beats Obama even though Obama fans see him as inevitable. He is winning in a league where he has all the advantages. In the big league he will have to win different sorts of voters.

Posted by: Jack at May 15, 2008 12:37 AM
Comment #252878

No matter how you slice, dice or explain the demographics of the recent Democratic primaries,one thing is clear: Obama has a race problem with white, rural, lower to middle income voters. Huge surprise! How he handles that issue may very well determine the general election. The silver lining is that the issue roared to life, thanks to the Rev. Wright, during the primaries and not during the general election. Obama has time to address this issue.

Posted by: Rich at May 15, 2008 9:02 AM
Comment #252880

The demographics are useful to the candidates as someone else said in determining how to pander to different regions and groups of voters. Where it turns into a problem is the spin that the media associates with them to create sensationalism which supposedly attracts viewers. Personally the twists they apply generally bore the hell out of me. I have heard enough what ifs from CNN to last me a lifetime.

Jack

He is winning in a league where he has all the advantages. In the big league he will have to win different sorts of voters.

I really do not believe this is a fair statement. He was not even a serious consideration when this whole thing started. People, not just young and black, have listened to his message and studied his character. They have realized that he is more than a token candidate. His intellect shines through and his desires appear as genuine. He comes across as not just another candidate throwing around promises that everyone knows can not be kept. He promises only that he will pursue an agenda that leans towards a working unification of our legislature. He realizes that diplomacy has been mostly extinct under our current administration and legislature. His supporters are not stupid people, they like what they see and feel that he is the person with the best shot at leading us out of our current political doldrums and in a new productive direction.

I would suggest that it is McCain who has to win a different sort of voters come November. There will be a youth vote like this country has never seen before. Democrats have registered in record numbers. People who have long voted republican are registering as dems. The republicans lost three more seats to special elections. Independents who regret putting Bush in office are going to be very gun shy about making the same mistake twice. The terms McSame and McBush are ringing loud and clear around this country. The republican party is viewed largely as uncompromising and obstructionist putting their needs above those they serve. Voters are very aware that current governmental policies are not good for our country and are not working. Of course Bush and his lockstep legislature of the last seven years largely get the blame. A governmental entity that McCain sided with over 90% of the time.

I see now that out of desperation to give an appearance of change McCain will be giving a speech presenting his view of the world in 2013 after four years of his presidency. That should be very interesting considering it is coming from a man who marches with a party that is currently seriously lacking credibility, has a clear record of deceptive political practice, and whose direction has proven to be gone astray. Sorry Jack, but this election is Obama’s to lose, not McCain’s to win.

Posted by: RickIL at May 15, 2008 9:49 AM
Comment #252886
He was not even a serious consideration when this whole thing started.

I still don’t know where this fantasy started…

He was considered a serious candidate after his speech at the 2004 National Convention, there were many Democrats who wanted him to run instead of Kerry.

In fact, I wrote about his candidacy back in February of 2007 and how the media had him presented as the presumptive favorite. He was leading in Rasmussen polls before then.

How does this fantasy that he made a ‘coming out from nowhere to pick off the media darling’ mesh with the reality that he made the media darling spotlight 3 and a half years ago?

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 15, 2008 11:36 AM
Comment #252887
There will be a youth vote like this country has never seen before.

I heard the same thing in 2004 and 2006… Still waiting for it to materialize.

I guess we will see.

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 15, 2008 11:38 AM
Comment #252888

Rich:

Obama has a race problem with white, rural, lower to middle income voters.

The thing is, McCain has got problems with these same sorts of people, too. He doesn’t have the kind of personality they like to get behind. Huckabee (for religious reasons) they would have voted for in droves, but McCain isn’t going to excite or motivate them.

I think it’s also important to remember that a lot of these people have loved ones doing endless tours of duty in Iraq, and McSame has promised them that they’ll be staying there for a long, long time to come. They are also really hurting economically (have been for some time), and he’s got no plan other than “let market forces take care” of everything. Yet, Republican laissez faire policies are the very reason that they’re in such economic straits.

This is not to say that people in such areas won’t ultimately choose to vote for McCain, but the turn out isn’t likely to be all that impressive.

RickIL, good comments. You wrote:

I see now that out of desperation to give an appearance of change McCain will be giving a speech presenting his view of the world in 2013 after four years of his presidency.

I’m amazed that he is now promising absolute victory in Iraq by 2013. Actually, I just read the prepared text of the speech he’ll giving today where he’s claiming we’ve already won the war:

“The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. I think what is truly “spasmodic and much reduced” is his reason! By the way, I’m not sure why he’d want to do this, but giving out such future predictions only serves to remind people that McCain is going to be 77 years old in 2013.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at May 15, 2008 11:53 AM
Comment #252889

Paul:

I will address this to you even though it is a cold day in hell when you show up after you post anything after your arguments are blown clean out of the water. Maybe because you do not have much that is still afloat after the light of day has exposed its weaknesses. Whatever.

“They slice up the electorate into whites or blacks, male or female, urban or rural , rich or poor, or whatever other categories they fancy. They explain the whole thing.”

You have no one to blame but yourselves. For decades the democrats in general and liberals in particular have played the game of identity politics. When you look at person you do not see an individual, you see a black person. You see a woman. You see a poor person. You see a transgendered person. You see a victim of many sorts.

It is you who have separated Americans into many different categories, and now that it is not to your benefit you do not like it. Well now, to paraphrase the mentor of your messiah, “These chickens are coming home to roost.”

Posted by: Beirut Vet at May 15, 2008 12:12 PM
Comment #252890

The demographics from the primaries that I have seen show that the voters are actually older than the general population, and specifically older than BHO. “His intellect shines through and his desires appear as genuine”, would indicate that he is a good actor, more than anything else.

Whomever is elected this year will most likely be a one term president. The situation in Iraq will not be resolved for 2 more years.

Posted by: ohrealy at May 15, 2008 12:23 PM
Comment #252892

Beirut Vet, applause, applause, well said.

Posted by: Jim M at May 15, 2008 12:31 PM
Comment #252896

Jack:

This accounts for the fact that McCain still often beats Obama even though Obama fans see him as inevitable.

Do have any links in order to account for this supposed “fact”? I tend not to follow polls, but I just went and looked at Rasmussen and Gallup and both currently have Obama ahead of McCain.

BV:

For decades the democrats in general and liberals in particular have played the game of identity politics. When you look at person you do not see an individual, you see a black person. You see a woman. You see a poor person. You see a transgendered person.

What a joke. The Democratic Party is the party comprised of entirely of individuals, which is why our conventions look exactly like a cross-section of America: a beautiful rainbow of national variety.
The Republican Party is the one who has long played up identity politics to the hilt - with the Evangelical Christians, and the Gun Lovers, and the Virulent Bigot crowd always being pandered to. And this is why your own conventions are much like a vast sea of (frequently beer-bellied) Caucasian.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at May 15, 2008 1:04 PM
Comment #252898


Obama supporters can try to lay the race issue at the feet of rural white’s but, it was introduced into this campaign by Obama’s black supporters who overwhelmingly jumped off the Hillary ship and onto Obama’s and the vast majority of them stated that the reason they did so was because he was black. I am not defending the racism of my fellow rural Americans, just trying to put some clarification on the issue.

Like the Democrats, the Republicans also have their demographic groups. Unlike the Democrats who pander to and try to do a little something for all their groups, The Republicans pander to their groups but only offer sucor to one group, corporate wealth. The Republicans when they had the opportunity did not offer up a definitive right to bear arms amendment, no anti-gay marriage amendment, nor an anti-abortion amendment. They used these people and gave them nothing but lip service. On top of that, the Republican economic policy has done harm to many of these people who supported the Republicans.

Posted by: jlw at May 15, 2008 1:16 PM
Comment #252899

ohrealy:

The demographics from the primaries that I have seen show that the voters are actually older than the general population, and specifically older than BHO.

Can you provide a link? What is clear is that lot more people have been voting during this primary season, and if what you say is true, it would mean that older people who hadn’t been voting previously are now casting their ballots.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at May 15, 2008 1:19 PM
Comment #252901

VV

The polls go up and down. Obama is generally ahead, but not always and not in every poll. And Obama has never polled more than half in the aggregate.

My opinion is that Obama has a good chance of winning. There is a better than 50% chance he will be president. He has a clear money advantage and the media loves the idea of Obama. But it is interesting that despite all these advatages, he still is not a break away winner and he cannot even dispatch Hilary.

Obama fans treat his as a demi-god. Let’s see how it goes from now. If he manages to win 60% of the vote, he will be in the same league as Ronald Reagan, but I doubt it.

I saw a Hilary supporter on TV who said a very interesting thing. She said people like the idea of Obama, but not necessarily his ideas. He is good looking and articulate. That is good, but is it enough?

Posted by: Jack at May 15, 2008 1:24 PM
Comment #252903

jlw:

Obama supporters can try to lay the race issue at the feet of rural white’s but, it was introduced into this campaign by Obama’s black supporters who overwhelmingly jumped off the Hillary ship and onto Obama’s and the vast majority of them stated that the reason they did so was because he was black.

I think this sentence is pure BS from start to finish. I’m voting for Obama because I think he’s got all the right stuff to make a good, and maybe even a great, president.
After all these years of Bush Administration incompetence and malfeasance, and all the challenges we are currently facing, I strongly doubt that a majority of Democrats are making their choice for the next president based on something as superficial as skin color.
Although, this may be the way that Hillary’s supporters are choosing to view her second place finish in the primary.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at May 15, 2008 1:37 PM
Comment #252905
I strongly doubt that a majority of Democrats are making their choice for the next president based on something as superficial as skin color.

First, that is not what he said. He stated that the ‘black voters’ abandoned Hillary and supported Obama.

Second, The demographics (92% of black voters) support this.

Who are the real racists here? Half of the white democratic voters are voting for one or the other, yet over 90% of the black democratic voters are voting for the black candidate? That is ignoring the quotes from many of them that the reason they are voting for Obama is because of his skin color.

Especially at a time when even 35% of americans still think Bush is doing a stand up job as president, getting 90% of anyone to support anything is telling…

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 15, 2008 1:44 PM
Comment #252907

Rhinehold:

Very well said, not to mention indisputable. Now prepare yourself for being branded a racist.

Posted by: Beirut Vet at May 15, 2008 2:08 PM
Comment #252908
First, that is not what he said. He stated that the ‘black voters’ abandoned Hillary and supported Obama.

You’re right, I had missed that.
So, jlw is trying to lay the blame of Hillary’s loss all at the feet of Obama’s black supporters only…
But that is also BS. Because it’s like saying that Hillary never had any negatives of her own. In fact, it’s a way of totally absolving her of not being able to make her case strongly among these voters. Which in turn states that Obama’s greatest strength with these people has only to do with the fact that he’s black. But I don’t think that either of those things are true.

Furthermore, if the Clinton’s and Ferraro hadn’t decided to start race-baiting during this primary, we probably would never have seen Obama reach support among black Democrats reach as high as 90%.
So again his comment implies that Hillary’s second place status has nothing to do with her own actions.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at May 15, 2008 2:21 PM
Comment #252911

Rhinehold

I have heard quotes recently in the media and locally from white people who will not vote for Obama simply because of his race, and others because his middle name is Hussein. This is not surprising, nor do I find it surprising that such a large percentage of blacks are voting for Obama.

If I were black I would not have to think twice about giving him my vote. For the first time ever they have a serious candidate of intellect who’s skin color is the same as theirs. Hell yes, what black person in their right mind would not jump at the chance to elect someone of the same skin color. The chance to put a black man into the big seat doesn’t come around too often. For a race that has had to fight tooth and nail for respectability and equality this must be a huge source of pride. Not to mention breaking down a final huge barrier. For them his election would most likely seem like that proverbial “cold day in hell” coming to fruition.

I suppose you can call them racist if you want, but I am not sure that is a fair assessment. Is it truly racist to vote for the candidate that you feel is going to best represent your concerns and needs? Before this election season started an eon or two ago I would have voted for Hillary because I viewed her as the only serious candidate. My thoughts on the matter have obviously changed since then. Had I stayed with Clinton simply because she is white then yes it would be fair to label me as a racist. It would also be fair to label those blacks who have converted simply because of color as racist also. I do not think it unfair to make the claim that the vast majority of those black voters who have switched to him do indeed view him as the person best able to represent their concerns. Taking into consideration the nuances of ethnicity in this country I find it illogical to think that he would not garner the vast majority of the black vote.

Posted by: RickIL at May 15, 2008 2:58 PM
Comment #252913
I suppose you can call them racist if you want, but I am not sure that is a fair assessment.

I’m sorry, pointing out that someone is a racist because they are choosing their presidential candidate because of the color of their skin is not a ‘fair assessemnt’? That defies the bounds of logic.

Now, if they are voting for Obama because he is the better of the two candidates, that is not racist. But statistically, we would not be seeing a near 50/50 split in the white vote and a 92/8 split in the black vote.

If Hillary was getting 92% of the white vote, do you think people would be screaming raicst?

You’ll have to excuse me, RickIL, but I don’t care what color skin anyone has. But apparently a lot of black people do.

As far as ‘representing their concerns’, how does him being black do that? First, he is only half-black, second he was raised entirely different than they were and cannot trace his history back to slavery as I understand it. He has had a pretty priviledged live, thankfully for him, so perhaps he can speak to those half-black, 1st generation, millionaires… But I don’t think that is the demographic we are seeing vote for him because of the color of his skin…

Sorry, RickIL, but trying to shrug this off as inconsequential and non-racist takes a lot of work and most thinking people can see right through it. In fact, I would hasten to bet that you don’t really believe what you are saying yourself.

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 15, 2008 3:23 PM
Comment #252914

Race baiting???

Mark Thompson on Sirius Left said yesterday that “elitist” and “inexperienced” are the new code words for black folk. Who’s playing the race card there?

Geraldine and the Clintons are not racists, but because they said something negative about Obama they sure are portrayed as such. Most of this is about insulating Obama from any type of political attack; if you attack him on any front you become a racist.

Obama’s campaign has so far been one of the best run I have ever seen (I’m not old enough to remember Kennedy but his must have been good too).

Posted by: George in SC at May 15, 2008 3:30 PM
Comment #252917

Veritas, this is my main source on results. Just look up the individual states:

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/

There was also a lot of overlap between HRC and Huckabee in Apppalachia, so McCain is as vulnerable there as BHO.

Posted by: ohrealy at May 15, 2008 3:36 PM
Comment #252921

ohrealy, thanks for the link.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at May 15, 2008 4:14 PM
Comment #252925

Rhinehold

Sorry, RickIL, but trying to shrug this off as inconsequential and non-racist takes a lot of work and most thinking people can see right through it. In fact, I would hasten to bet that you don’t really believe what you are saying yourself.

Actually I do believe what I am implying. I will not deny that a percentage are surely backing him simply because of color. But we really have no statistics to verify what that percentage is one way or the other. He has not made any particular extra effort to pander to the black vote that I am aware of. Never the less you are being presumptuous without any verifiable statistics to back up your claim that most of those blacks are backing him simply because he is black. Why did we not see this supposed racist phenomenon during the 04 election when Al Sharpton was running? You may interpret the statistics however you please, but you really have no good basis to back them.

I will not insult the larger portion of black voters by implying that they are so stupid as to throw away a vote simply over skin color. They have brains, educations, lives and families just like you and I. The majority of them are going to do what they feel is best for their situation just like you and I. Doing what one feels is best does not imply racism. There is no way you will convince me or a large portion of thinking people that 92% or anywhere near the larger portion of that percentage of black voters are being racist in their support of Obama. Yes racism exists, but you are taking it to extremes here.

Posted by: RickIL at May 15, 2008 6:33 PM
Comment #252972

The Onion says, for a majority of likely voters, meaningless bullsh*t will be the most important factor in deciding who they will vote for in 2008:

youtube.com/watch?v=viVAAy_qkx0

Comedy gets closer to the truth.

Posted by: ohrealy at May 16, 2008 4:11 PM
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