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Race Was Not the Key Factor in Romney’s Defeat

 

JESSE POWELL writes:

Even though it is clear that non-whites vote Democratic much more than whites do, it is also true that the racial make-up of the states that voted for Obama is not that much different from the states that voted for Romney. In actuality, the racial make-up of the states that Obama won actually favors Romney and yet Obama won those states anyways!  Race is not as important a factor in voting as it appears when looking at voting by racial category.  Oddly enough the White Childless Cohabitation Ratio appears to be a better predictor of how a state will vote than the racial make-up of the state even though the White Childless Cohabitation Ratio only factors in the family behaviors of whites as a predictor.

The overall social environment of a state appears to be more important than the racial make-up of a state in terms of voting.

Below is a little table showing the collective racial make-up of all the states voting for Obama versus all the states voting for Romney in the 2012 election (Florida is assumed to have voted for Obama) based on the 2010 Census.  In addition I add in what the expected vote for Obama would have been based solely on race.

               Obama                  Romney                    EOV                  EOV/O                  EOV/R
White 63.0% 67.7% 41% 25.8 27.8
Black 10.6% 15.7% 93% 9.9 14.6
Hispanic 17.3% 15.3% 71% 12.3 10.9
Asian 6.1% 2.3% 73% 4.5 1.7
Total EOV 52.4% 54.9%

In the above table “Obama” refers to the racial make-up of the 26 states and the District of Columbia that Obama won (I am counting Florida in this group).  “Romney” refers to the racial make-up of the 24 states that Romney won.  “EOV” refers to the Expected Obama Vote by racial category given in the comment by Jourdan above.  “EOV / O” refers to the Expected Obama Vote in the states Obama won contributed by the particular racial category.  “EOV / R” refers to the Expected Obama Vote contributed by the particular racial category in the states that Romney won.  The last row titled “Total EOV” gives the Total Expected Obama Vote in the states that Obama won and the states that Romney won based solely on the racial make-up of those states.  As can be seen the racial make-up of the states that Obama won actually favored Romney!

There are a greater proportion of blacks living in the Romney states as opposed to the Obama states; this is presumably because of the Republican “solid South.”  The proportion of Asians is far higher in the Obama states than in the Romney states; I’m thinking this is because Asians tend to live near upper-class white areas and the upper-class white areas tend to be Democratic.

California and Texas are good counter-examples of each other; one is Democratic while the other is Republican but they are both majority non-white.  Below is some information on these two states.

               White                Black               Hispanic                Asian              Election                WCCR
California 40.1% 5.8% 37.6% 12.8% 20.5 12.2%
Texas 45.3% 11.5% 37.6% 3.8% -15.8 8.3%

The racial categories give the racial make-up of the two states in the 2010 Census.  The “Election” column gives the margin of victory of Obama over Romney in the 2012 Presidential election.  “WCCR” stands for the White Childless Cohabitation Ratio.

Even though the racial make-up of California and Texas are approximately equal to each other their voting in the 2012 Presidential Election is wildly different.  If the people of California and Texas voted strictly according to their racial averages (using the numbers provided by Jourdan) then 57.9% of California’s vote would have gone to Obama while 58.7% of Texas’ vote would have gone to Obama.  In other words demographically Texas should be more Democratic than California!  There are obviously factors beyond race determining the election outcomes in California and Texas.

One association I have discovered is quite remarkable; a high White Childless Cohabitation Ratio (WCCR) is strongly associated with Democratic leanings.  This may be why California is Democrat while Texas is Republican; the WCCR of California is significantly above the national average while the WCCR for Texas is significantly below (the national average WCCR is 10.4%).

To further confound the racial theory of voting patterns three of the four whitest states voted for Obama as the below table shows.

As before the “Election” column gives the margin of victory of Obama over Romney in the 2012 Presidential election.  “WCCR” stands for the White Childless Cohabitation Ratio. [The last column is WCCR.]

                White                Election                  WCCR
Maine 94.4% 15.4 14.7%
Vermont 94.3% 35.8 14.9%
West Virginia 93.2% -26.8 9.8%
New Hampshire 92.3% 5.7 13.6%

In the below I list the states that voted 60.0% or more for Romney or Obama.  The number beside the state is the “most white” ranking of the state out of 50.  Of the ten states where Romney won 60.0% or more, three were more non-white than average (Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Alabama).  Of the five states where Obama won 60.0% or more, three were more white than average (Vermont, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts).  There doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between strong support for either Romney or Obama and the racial make-up of the state.

States 60.0% Romney or more

Oklahoma 30
Arkansas 26
Alabama 31
Kansas 21
Kentucky 8
West Virginia 3
Utah 18
Idaho 11
Wyoming 9
Nebraska 14

States 60.0% Obama or more

Maryland 45
New York 40
Rhode Island 23
Massachusetts 24
Vermont 2

In regards to the idea that race is highly determinative in how a state will vote, that doesn’t seem to be the case regarding many states.  Indeed the overall racial composition of the Obama states is more Republican friendly than the states Obama actually won; I don’t see how that fact can be ignored.  The different racial groups seem to vote in relationship to each other, they don’t seem to vote according to race as an independent factor.I don’t think the Republicans are doomed because of “the browning of America,” the problem is conflict among conservatives. When looking at an individual, race is a strong predictor of how one will vote (especially for minorities); when looking at a population of individuals the racial composition of that population doesn’t seem to predict voting well at all (at least at the statewide level).  This is counter-intuitive but true.  What this means is that voters are in a relationship with each other; in other words the presence of large numbers of blacks affects white people’s votes.  When there are large numbers of blacks whites vote more Republican in reaction to blacks tipping the scales in favor of the Democrats; I imagine this is what is going on in the Southern states.  When whites do not have many blacks around them they are more likely to vote Democrat as there is no need to counter a black Democratic vote since there aren’t that many blacks voting in their area anyways.

Cities with small black populations have been known to elect black mayors; cities with a sizable minority of blacks, say 20% to 30%, rarely elect black mayors.  Cities that are majority black again are likely to elect black mayors.  In a city with few blacks, whites, I would say, do not feel threatened by a black mayor, they are comfortable in their white dominance and voting for a black man may show how “open minded” they are.  In places with a large black minority, whites feel more threatened by black political power and will not vote for a black mayor under such circumstances.  Since in these places whites are still a solid majority a black man will not win since he cannot get enough white votes.  If a city is majority black, blacks can win the mayor’s seat simply because blacks are the majority.

Republicans being “the white party” and Democrats being “the brown party” is only important where there are significant racial minorities.  In such a situation whites will become more Republican.  The end result is a wash; the extra votes for Democrats due to minorities produces extra votes for Republicans from whites so that the voting results for a state at large are not affected by the racial composition of the state.  This is how you get the contradictory result of racial composition not affecting the voting outcomes of states while at the same time having the party affiliation of individuals being strongly influenced by race.

—– Comments —-

Bartholomew writes:

I have to take issue with Mr. Powell’s highly questionable finding that the browning of America hasn’t made and won’t make America more liberal. I think he was misled by a simple, erroneous assumption, a falsehood to which he should have been alerted by the strangeness of his opening statement. He writes:

“Race is not as important a factor in voting as it appears when looking at voting by racial category. Oddly enough the White Childless Cohabitation Ratio appears to be a better predictor of how a state will vote than the racial make-up of the state even though the White Childless Cohabitation Ratio only factors in the family behaviors of whites as a predictor.”

In other words: “Race doesn’t matter that much. This other factor which, by the way only is restricted to a particular race, matters much more.” But a factor that is restricted to a particular race is, by definition, racial. Thus, Jesse’s Non-racial Theory of Racial Voting Patterns falters right out of the gate. If the “white childless cohabitation ratio” matters (i.e., liberal whites), then whiteness matters and, thus race matters. Thus Mr. Powell’s great, nonracial explanation of racial voting patterns turns out to be racial after all. How, when he himself had to resort to race in order to name it, did he not see this himself? Is Mr. Powell willfully blinding himself to racial realities?

The rest of Mr. Powell’s argument boils down to this: If conservatives think that nonwhites vote Democratic, they must also think whites vote Republican. Since some highly white states actually voted for Obama, therefore these conservatives are wrong. We should expect that some highly nonwhite states in the future might vote for a Republican. Thus, Republicans have no political reason to oppose brown immigration.

Mr. Powell needs to back up and check his sources. I am unaware of anyone who has said that whites vote as a race for Republicans. Whites have always been split between the Republican and Democratic parties. Is Jesse not aware that we started them both? How does he think the Democrats ever governed before 1985?

So, when Mr. Powell writes, ”There doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between strong support for either Romney or Obama and the racial make-up of the state…Indeed the overall racial composition of the Obama states is more Republican friendly than the states Obama actually won” and claims he can’t “see how that fact can be ignored,” he is battling a straw man and distracting us from the real issue, which is not white voting patterns but rather nonwhite voting patterns. Of course whites are pretty evenly split between liberal and conservative. Therefore, of course, you can find some majority white states that are Republican and some that are Democratic. And you can even find extremely white states that are Democratic. So what?

He goes on to claim, “As can be seen the racial make-up of the states that Obama won actually favored Romney!” This is just absurd. What conservative here or elsewhere has ever said that because Vermont is mostly white it therefore favors Republicans? Who? Did Mr. Powell simply make this up? Therefore, on what basis does Mr. Powell say that Vermont, a state everyone expected Obama to win, “favored” Romney? And what does any of this have to do with the still obvious fact that nonwhites, regardless of where they live, vote Democratic?

I have no idea, but somehow Mr. Powell jumps from there to this conclusion: “The different racial groups seem to vote in relationship to each other, they don’t seem to vote according to race as an independent factor. I don’t think the Republicans are doomed because of “the browning of America,” the problem is conflict among conservatives.”

Mr. Powell’s argument amounts to simply one more Non-racial Theory of Racial Voting Patterns. How many times are people like Mr. Powell and, apparently the strategists at the Republican Party, going to commit the same logical fallacy? And how many more lifelong Democratic voters are we going to import before they stop? There is certainly a problem with “conflict among conservatives,” namely with those conservatives who refuse to acknowledge racial realities.

It is true that there are other factors aside from race which influence an individual’s vote. It appears to be true, but is also irrelevant, that there is no strong correlation between whiteness and a particular partisan loyalty. That is a red herring. Why should Mr. Powell chastise us for “ignoring” it?

What we are saying and always have said, to my knowledge, is that non-whites vote Democratic, a fact which none of Mr. Powell’s statistics disproved. Yes, Texas is no longer majority white and it still elected Romney. The whites Texas does have are mostly very conservative, and of course there have always been a few nonwhites who vote Republican. Combined, they swung Texas to the Republicans–for now. But the share of whites in Texas grows ever smaller, doesn’t it? California, meanwhile, has rather liberal whites and many nonwhites, who, combined, just gave Sacramento a super-Democratic majority last week. In both states, whites being still 45 percent of the electorate, set the political tone.

 OK, but what happens when whites are only 20 percent? Will it matter what they do if, say, 70 percent of Hispanics consistently vote Democratic. Won’t the most populous racial group then set the political tone just as the most populous racial group now does? And if the most populous racial group in the future is Democratic, won’t that mean a Democratic political future?

Why then does Mr. Powell counsel Republicans not to resist our racial replacement?

 Laura writes:

Bartholomew is absolutely right.

Mr. Powell does not prove his thesis. The fact that whites do not vote in a bloc does not negate the influence of race. I suspect Mr. Powell was attempting to say was that because whites are very divided, other races might show this same tendency in the future. But there is no reason to believe they ever will given that 1) it is strongly in their interest to support big government; 2) the Republican Party, whether it admits it or not, is predominantly white and is seen as the enemy for this reason; and 3) Asians and blacks are not ashamed of acting upon their own racial identity.

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