Sunday, November 18, 2012

Y'all gonna be an American.

I suppose this is not completely unrelated to the subject of the previous two posts, but it's election news worth noting that Jon Hubbard and Loy Mauch both lost their seats in the Arkansas legislature this month.  It's also news that they did so without actually losing much if any support compared to when they were first elected in 2010.

They're both Republicans, and their party did quite well overall in the Arkansas voting.  Not only did Romney/Ryan carry the state with 60.5% of the vote, but all four Republican candidates running for the U. S. House won in landslides and on the state level the GOP took control of both legislative houses for the first time since Reconstruction.  But Hubbard and Mauch, both Republican incumbents, were thrown out by voters.

Hubbard, a former high school teacher, had spent much of the campaign defending what he had written in a compilation of letters-to-the-editor he had published in book form.  A fair number of deeply offensive excerpts were publicized during the campaign, but here's the money quote:
… the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.
As for Mauch, he's a member of the League of the South, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a neo-Confederate hate group.  Like Hubbard, he spent years writing letters-to-the-editor that demonstrate he is able to see American slavery as part of a bigger picture that eludes those who criticize it.  Here he is, apparently forgetting the plotline of the Book of Exodus:
Nowhere in the Holy Bible have I found a word of condemnation for the operation of slavery, Old or New Testament. If slavery was so bad, why didn’t Jesus, Paul or the prophets say something?
Okay, so these hateful clowns got elected to a single term in their state legislature when their unreconstructed racism was not all that widely known to their voters, and when their views were better publicized, they got voted out.  A good story with a happy ending.  Sure, but what I have not seen reported anywhere is the fact that the support for Mauch actually increased from 2010 to 2012, and that for Hubbard stayed about the same.

Mauch got elected two years ago with 4041 votes out of 7561; he lost this month with 4586 out of 10,141.  That is to say, he actually increased his number of votes by 13.5% and lost only because other voters turned out in much greater numbers than in 2010, presumably to express their disgust with him.

Hubbard's vote total went down, but not by much.  He won the first time with 5162 votes out of 8930, and lost this time with 5031 out of 10,709.  His decline was only 2.5%, and--like Mauch--he would have won re-election with his numbers this time were it not for increased turnout on the other side.  In neither case did the supporters of these guys turn on them.  They lost only because they were inflammatory enough to motivate the opposition.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

More on the Cold Civil War

The numbers from the election give Andrew Sullivan's theory that we're in what he calls "a Cold Civil War" a mixed verdict.  As we know, Obama carried Virginia and Florida, so Sullivan's precise prediction did not come to pass.   And for what it's worth, Romney's average margin of victory in the twelve former slave states he won was 15.9%, actually less than his 23.7% margin in the other states (two free states in 1861 plus ten that were then territories) he won. 

"For what it's worth" is a meaningful qualifier in this case, however, because the percentages above don't separate out the African American vote, 93% of which went nationally for Obama.  Sullivan is talking about the white vote.  There are a lot more blacks in the South than in the western states where Romney had most of the rest of his victories, and once this fact is adjusted for, Sullivan's theory may well be vindicated. 

That involves more research than I am willing to do on his behalf, but here are a couple of quick and rough sets of calculations.  Census data from 2010 says that black population in the twelve states Romney won that were neither in the Confederacy nor border states averages only 3.2% of population in those states.  Assuming that this percentage is roughly reflected in voter turnout, subtracting 93% of the black vote from Obama's total share in those states--38.15% to Romney's 61.85%--adjusts Romney's winning margin in those states up to 28.5%, not all that different from his actual 23.7% margin there.

By huge contrast, the census says the black population of the fourteen former slave states--including Virginia and Florida, the two Obama won--averages 19.5% of the total population of those states.  Making the same assumption about voter turnout, and making the same adjustment by removing Obama's 93% of the black vote, Romney's margin of victory across that region of the country--even still averaging in the two states he lost there--jumps from 15.9% all the way to 41.1%.

Does this prove Sullivan's inference that much opposition in the South to Obama's re-election was racially motivated?  No it doesn't, but it seems to leave the question open.