Arnold Kling  

Last Stand of the WORST

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In an earlier post, I described the 2010 election as the last stand of the white, older, rural and small town voters. Now, the Washington Post reports,


The Republican Party's big gains in the House came largely from districts that were older, less diverse and less educated than the nation as a whole. Democrats kept their big majorities in the cities...

Democrats largely held on to their high share of the vote in the country's most densely populated places. The party captured 54 percent in counties with populations of more than 500,000 people, compared with only 49 percent in 1994. In smaller counties, Democrats' share of the vote slid to 39 percent this year from 43 percent in 1994.

I still think that President Obama's class loyalty to Geithner and Bernanke was the biggest factor in motivating the WORST to strike back.


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COMMENTS (7 to date)
Hugh Watkins writes:

I think the "S" should stand for Suburban - a category the Post doesn't seem to know about - the GOP did well in the 'burbs.

As the GOP made gains in these "older, less diverse and less educated" districts I suppose it means that they went for Obama in 2008 - not sure how that ties in to your theory.

More generally I am troubled by your demographic approach: if you had told someone 50 years ago that the South would grow faster than the North-East that person would have interpreted this news as good for Democrats as the South was Democrat and the North-East Republican - but as we know, facts got in the way of demography.

Elvin writes:

After the 1964 wipe-out of the Republican party, I remember my dad saying that the country would be 60% Democrat for a long time. By 1968, the country was so unhappy with Johnson's liberalism that it elected Nixon twice. By 1980, the country was so unhappy with Carter's liberalism that it elected Reagan for two terms. In 2010, the country was so unhappy with Obama's liberalism that over sixty new Republicans to the House were elected.

My interpretation is that every time we have tried liberal/progressivism, we have recoiled. As bad as Republicans and conservatives are, they run the country a little better than liberal Democrats. (Clinton was a moderate Democrat who understands economics.)


JPIrving writes:

Still not sure it is the last stand. I think of the even worse white demographics in the North East. I feel if we could split the white statistical category into White-NASCAR and White-Wholefoods we would find important demographic differences.

It is not clear that the population gains of other ethnic groups are a king maker for the democrats. It depends of how quickly the white lefties become extinct. If birthrates were a bit above replacement among republicanish voters, and at German or even Hong Kong rates (1.4 or 1.0) for the reliable white progressives, such a situation could arise. Especially given the lower voting rates for hispanics and blacks.

Stan Greer writes:

The sources for the Washington Post story (mostly Ruy Teixeira, sp.?), the story itself, and Dr. Kling all miss a very salient point.

The share of the total U.S. population, and ipso facto the share of U.S. congressional districts and electoral votes, that emanates from counties with populations of 500,000 or more has been shrinking for a long time and is poised to continue shrinking.

I don't believe demography is destiny, but people like Teixeira, or whatever is name is, and Kling, who apparently do equate demography and destiny, should not consider the fact that Democrats continue to out-perform in heavily populated counties to be good long term news for the Democrats.

Stan Greer
Fairfax, Va.

Roland writes:

We ran the data for the statehouse seats in NC that flipped from D to R--every one was declining or stagnant population (i.e. rural in this rapidly growing state) with poor economic performance. The R's now get to redistrict, but they will almost certainly have to drop two of the newcomers into one district as the shift to the urban/suburban core continues..

Hyena writes:

But what's the evidence?

How big is this effect relative to district-by-district partisanship? How much of the flip is explained by Democrats picking up marginal districts? How much by the anti-incumbent impacts of a poor economy?

Stan Greer writes:

Roland's comment about North Carolina may reflect reality, rather than his mistaken impressions, but I doubt it.

Nationwide, at least, a systematic analysis done for the Wall Street Journal news section (no Republican bastion) found that, in 2010, the "fastest growing counities in the U.S. voted overwhelmingly Republican" in U.S. House contests.


blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/11/12/hot-counties-turn-red/

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