There’s Republicans and then there’s Texas Republicans

Via the Burnt Orange report:


That’s right, 60% of [Texas] Republican primary voters believe that the President was not born in the United States. Another 21% “aren’t sure,” which is the response you give if you don’t think the President was born in the US but don’t want to sound like a totally racist cracker on an IVR poll. Only 18% of Republican primary voters know that the President was indeed born in the United States, because like it or not, Hawaii is part of our country.

Now, to be fair, the Republican primary electorate skews old: 73% of respondents were age 60 or over. Hawaii was only admitted to the union in 1959, so evidently for Texas Republican primary voters, the State of Hawaii is still a new-fangled notion worthy of scrutiny, as is the President born there.

Racism is dead (or not)

If you didn’t know about NC’s sad history with eugenics, you can start with today’s news:

A state House committee voted Tuesday in favor of legislation that would pay $50,000 to people who were sterilized against their will.

From 1929 to 1974, more than 7,600 people in North Carolina were surgically rendered unable to reproduce under state laws and rules that targeted people deemed unfit to be parents. They included epileptics, those considered mentally defective and many who were simply poor.

If you were under the impression that racism is dead, just read the comment thread to the article.

What Romney didn’t learn at Bain

Ezra quotes himself in Wonkbook.  I liked it a lot:

2) KLEIN: What Romney didn’t learn at Bain is what’s important. “The real problem with Romney isn’t what he did at Bain. It’s what he didn’t seem to learn from it…What he could have learned from that experience is that, just as creative destruction is important for moving an economy forward, a safety net is important for catching those who are left behind. As head of Bain, Romney fired a lot of workers who were perfectly good at their jobs, who were committed to their companies, who had families they needed to support. That was his job as head of a private-equity giant. But his job as president of the United States would also be to look out for those workers…In Massachusetts, Romney seemed to take that to heart…Romney’s national platform, however, calls for doing less for the victims of the global economy. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would guarantee that workers would get health insurance even if they lost their jobs in, say, a private-equity led restructuring.” Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

Catholics are pretty much like other Americans

Michael Gerson wrote a column the other day (not worth my time finding the link to) about how Obama is going to alienate all these Catholic voters over Catholic institutions and birth control for employees.   Gerson all too readily conflates ordinary Catholics and the Bishops who are responsible for this policy fight and the lawsuits that have just been filed.  I just don’t see many Catholics at all changing their vote over this.  Here’s the latest Gallup data on attitudes towards birth control:

Perceived Moral Acceptability of Birth Control -- by Religion, May 2012

Not exactly a dramatic difference.  Hard to imagine too many Catholics who would have otherwise been inclined towards Obama getting all upset because of something that they already find morally acceptable.

Photo of the day

Interesting story about the latest deaths in an attempt to climb an overcrowded Mt. Everest.  Here’s one from the accompanying photo gallery:

Very much reminds me of what remains my favorite non-fiction book ever (I probably should read it again some day), Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.

The White vote in 2012

One of the big questions with the 2012 is just how white will the electorate be (Chait comes right out and puts it that way; the headline writers at the National Journal are much more circumspect with “Familiar Divisions give Obama narrow edge.”   No matter how you talk about it, though, it is safe to say the percentage of the electorate that ends up being white versus the percentage that is minority will go along way towards determining whether Obama or Romney wins the election.

This all comes to light because Political Scientist extraordinaire, Alan Abramowitz did some work to get to the bottom of why Gallup polls keep coming up more pro-Romney than all the others.  Short version: all polls weight by demographics and Gallup assumes a whiter 2012 electorate than anybody else.  Thus, this is an instructive case both on demographics and vote and the art– rather than science– of polling.  From Ron Brownstein:

The surveys-from ABC and the Washington Post; the Pew Research CenterCNN/ORC; and the firstGallup tracking poll, diverge in their overall results. The first three polls show Obama leading by seven, four and nine percentage points respectively; the first Gallup track placed Romney up by two percentage points.
But the Gallup track, which is conducted among registered voters, has a sample that looks much more like the electorate in 2010 than the voting population that is likely to turn out in 2012: only 22 percent of the Gallup survey was non-white, according to figures the organization provided to Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz. That was close to the non-white share of the vote in 2010 (23 percent), but in 2008, minorities comprised 26 percent of all voters, according to exit polls; the Obama campaign, and other analysts, project the minority share of the vote will increase to 28 percent in 2012. In its survey, Pew, for instance, puts the non-white share at 25 percent.
Building off Brownstein, Chait brings us some more interesting numbers:
The white share of the electorate has been falling steadily for two decades, from 87 percent in 1992 to 83 percent in 1996 to 81 percent in 2000, 77 percent in 2004, and 74 percent four years ago. Most of that decline came from the growth of Latino and Asian-American voters, though Obama’s 2008 election also benefited from an unusual burst of African-American voting. Given that Obama enjoyed a seven percentage point cushion in 2008, he could again lose a large share of the white vote and still eke out a win. The number-crunching blog electionate calculates that Obama, who won 43 percent of the white vote last time, could still win with 38 percent of the white vote — as long as the white share of the electorate does not increase.
Have to say, I was surprised to learn about Gallup’s demographic weighting here.  Chait explains some reasons that minority turnout may be harder to activate this time around, but it is really hard to imagine the electorate looking more like 2010 than 2008.  And, of course, in the end a very good reminder that elections are very much not just about how people vote but who actually does the voting.  And for Obama, the more non-whites (and, of course the highly educated whites like me– and probably you), the better.
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