Demographics and Democracy

I must register my dissent on Sam Koritz’s thesis — explained in a twopart post on —  that “what the country wants” is a white, Protestant, male of northern European descent who is “mildly” opposed to the Iraq war. From what I can make of it, Sam’s argument seems to be that you can’t win the election without winning the South, but I believe Obama could at least make inroads into the GOP’s electoral hegemony in the region, and he’s certainly mobilizing a lot of voters who haven’t voted in previous elections.

This “science” of “demographics” as a predictive tool is bollocks, pure and simple. The “country,” whatever that is, doesn’t know what it wants — which is why we have these odd things called political campaigns.

31 thoughts on “Demographics and Democracy”

  1. Demographic analysis is a useful predictive tool, though like all such tools it doesn’t provide certainty. If demographics-based predictions were “bunk” then we would expect demographically pioneering candidates’ tickets to win about 50% of the time. Yet, when we look at the only 5 pioneers to make it past the primaries — Catholic (Al Smith), ethnically Jewish (Goldwater), female (Ferraro), Italian (Ferraro), Greek (Dukakis), ethnically & religiously Jewish (Lieberman) — all lost.

    I don’t know how to square Justin’s current argument with what he wrote in his column of January 21: “America, a deeply racist country, is not going to put a black man in the White House any time soon….” I, at least, gave Obama a 1 in 3 chance of winning the next election, if he’s nominated (though probably 1 in 4 is a more sober estimate).

    Also, as I wrote re the Jim Chapin article, it’s not just about winning in the South: “the Democrats’ selection of a white, Southern, Protestant candidate signals to swing states outside of Dixie that the candidate is less beholden to the party’s constituency of Yankees, cosmopolitans, ethnic minorities and union workers.”

    1. Steve Sailor had a fascinating article in the latest American Conservative which modeled family demographics and found, in the case of the white vote, that married family types who had settled in more affordable areas outside of core cities were more likely to vote GOP, and single and married but without children cosmopolitan types living in expensive cities were more likely to vote Democrat. No big surprise there, it’s the old “family values” angle.

      If Obama ends up with the nomination, he obviously has the cosmopolitan vote nailed, and will need to start going to work on the family vote. If he can peel off a significant portion of that vote from McCain (which shouldn’t be too hard), he’s likely to win.

      1. Misspelled Steve’s name: it’s Sailer. Also, one more point. If Hillary gets the nomination, I think she is going to have a much harder time peeling off the family vote from McCain than is Obama. The Clinton’s don’t have much appeal to those who value family values.

  2. I would have to revise and extend my remarks on the “deeply racist country” theme: I now think I was wrong about that, mostly because I didn’t consider the key question: who is he running against? In a match-up with the McCainiac, I think it will boil down to a question of Old & Angry versus Young, Hopeful, and Very Articulate: Uncle McCranky is at a disadvantage, at least in my view.

    I also have to ask: Who are these “cosmopolitans we keep hearing so much about? Aside from the Beltway libertarians who hate Ron Paul?

  3. the element of racism is part of the larger element of ignorance.

    example: support for mcain is based on the mistaken notion that we are in the US of 10 years ago and not the one that is in the middle of two wars and a recession. circa 2000 or 90 Mcain makes perfect sense, times were relatively good and we could have mr koritz’s “white, Protestant, male of northern European descent who is “mildly” opposed to the Iraq war” as a sort of cartoon character president who doesn’t do too much.

    2008 he is entirely inappropriate. but the voters, media, and the candidates themselves especially hillary and mcain, are not cognitive of the idea that America could be in trouble.

    so in good times and bad we are very hampered by ignorance but in bad times it is obviously more consequential. I don’t blame obama at all for laying on the positive hopeful rhetoric. it appears to be working like a charm. it’s hilarious to see the media describe him as lacking substance. remember Ron Paul? that’s what they do to substantitive candidates.

    1. Yeah, the corporate media pundits describe him as lacking in substance, and then they appear to substantiate that by selectively quoting only the most content-free bits of rhetoric from the speeches. If you only get your news from corporate TV, you are left wondering why people support him.

      But there is much more in the speeches than inspirational puffery. For example, in “The War Party Targets Obama”, Justin Raimondo quotes the following from Obama:

      “My Republican opponent won’t be able to say that we both supported this war in Iraq. He won’t be able to say that we really agree about using the war in Iraq to justify military action against Iran, or about the diplomacy of not talking and saber-rattling.”

      This gets at a very substantive policy difference between Obama and the two AIPAC acolytes tweedle-McCain and tweedle-Hillary.

      But you won’t see much of this on the ABC and MSNBC news shows. They just give you Obama airily declaring that he favors “change,” and then the pundits all nod sagely as they deplore his lack of “substance.”

  4. If one is talking “polling” then “demographics” are a sham. ALL polling is skewed to gain results that the “pollers” are seeking. It’s ‘how’ the pollers take the polls and the questions that are asked. Therefore “demographics” is misleading and biased from the git. Racism will certainly play a significant role in the fall’s election SHOULD Obama win the Demo nod. Gender bias will surely play a role in the election SHOULD Clinton win the Demo nod. By the same token, McCain brings the “sanity” question to the fore and since when have the American people EVER demanded their candidates for America’s highest office pass a psychiatric exam prior to taking office. Can we all say “the one hundred year war?” The “McCainiac” (that’s a good one Justin) is scary and in that warmongering genocidal sort of manner.

    1. Racism and gender bias–to get the race once more close enough to steal.

      The program begins with maps–to get you thinking in that direction, complete with X’s marking the spot of supposedly buried nightmares.

      There was a reason Kucinich challenged the results in New Hampshire, and it had less to do with the duopoly than with the machine language in which Americans have tacitly agreed to have their votes be stolen in.

      Once more down the Garden Path–get it close enough to steal and steal it with the unnoticed grammar of machines.

      After Korzybski–“A map is self-reflexive in the sense that an ‘ideal’ map would include a map of the map, etc., indefinitely.”

      What this country needs is a good five cent posse of very sore losers.

  5. Justin Raimondo betrays more about himself than he realizes when he said, “America, a deeply racist country, is not going to put a black man in the White House any time soon….”

    This kind of hate-America and hate-whitey talk opens up Raimondo’s motives for analysis. My friends and I, while we appreciate his anti-war stance, have been concerned about his generalized loathing toward European Americans which he expresses frequently by using labels that are demeaning and disparaging toward our entire continental-origin demographic.

    He does not do this for continental-origin groups from Africa, Asia, or Latin America.

    1. It’s not like “European Americans” are a single group. I’ve heard too many stories about “Old Americans” persecuting German Americans around 1917. My ancestry is Norwegian and Dutch, and I feel nothing in common with White Southerners, mostly descended from Britain’s rejects.

      Lester Ness

  6. To return to the more prosaic aspects of this issue, it seems to me that Obama can indeed win without the South, as he might well have to do. (I say that reluctantly, as a southerner.) He can do so by gaining in the Midwest & mountain West, which seems feasible – far more so than for Clinton. I’m leaning on T. Schaller’s analysis in “Whistling Past Dixie” to a great extent, but I think there’s a good deal of validity to that analysis.

    1. There are several key contingencies unresolved and it is still too early to tell.

      The “white, male, Protestant, ethnically European” South is only a small part of the story.

      The supposed “demographer” who began this discussion with his clumsy myth-making is living in the past.

      He creates a stereotype and invites the Southrons to mold themselves to it.

      The “South” he tries to define on his electoral map may well be unnecessary, as you say.

      Another “South” on other maps is open.

      If there is an Obama, he may not need it, but I suspect he may be able to get a helping few now expect.

      Gathered around an autocrat of their own making, the Neo-Cons, despite warnings, never considered themselves potential scapegoats.

      It is a pity the great Uri Avnery does not delve deeper into the American scene.

      That is not a criticism. It is merely pointing to a lack of any intelligent voice with the proper sensibility just at the moment.

  7. Jindal “bubba-izes” himself with “Bobby” and plays darkie to the “Great White Race” convention, or what is left of it.

    And who does not know, even in the South nowadays, that color is no definition of “race”, and never has been, except in certain far corners of an incompetent elite that itself fell for “Anglo-Saxon” a century ago, and which has had a reliable peonship of dark and unenlightened minds with what they think is significant white skin in hills and dales below the Mason-Dixon line, and also in some border areas above.

    These are the same white-skinned darkies that fought the War Between North and South for incompetent plantation owners who never looked at a map and located St. Paul on the Mississippi.

    Is Jindal disingenuous?

    The conclusion is hard to avoid.

    His well advertised “brown” was widely trumpeted in the press as the first winning “non-white” in Louisiana politics.

    As if Hindus have ceased knowing they are Caucasian and their language Indo-European.

    How many Neo-Cons does Jindal have in his privy council?

    Are the exiles of New Orleans breathing formaldehyde fumes in their FEMA trailer parks so easily persuaded?

    Where will they vote, and how?

    1. I think we British should teach Justin the word ‘twat’ next. He’d love calling Andrew Sullivan a twat :)

  8. Many American bigots are of the why-can’t-all-blacks-be-like-Tiger-Woods variety. Obama’s blackness isn’t necessarily an obstacle to winning over these voters.

    1. True enough, but why is Obama racially “black” in the first place, rather than mestizo or mulatto, the latter term being one which even the South Africans of the old regime recognized as a obvious category?

      The answer at bottom is the nonsense of “racial purity”.

      Nietzsche in a little conceit had fun claiming to Germans that he was Polish.

      The humor is lost on the clans and the tribes that swear first and lasting allegiance to some ancestral race, which also includes Slavs and Jews.

      But even in that context, Americans are truly comic in their color coding, North and South.

      And the game is played by both Left and Right, both “Whites” and “Blacks”.

      On the one hand, “White”–whatever that is–and any drop of African, even one great grandparent out of eight, is “Black”?

      On the other hand, skin color is the conventional sign?

      It may be news to most Americans, secure in their insulated and unconscious stupidity on such subjects, but the ancient Greek historian Herodotus was the more advanced scientifically when he connected skin color to sun and clime.

      And indeed it is a fairly simple matter of how much Vitamin D is needed where the sun is weak, and how much ultra-violet needs to be blocked where sun is strong.

      Other “racial” characteristics besides skin color? With White and Black still thriving it is a waste of breath and one likely wins a more attentive audience discussing the mark of Cain.

      Meanwhile Bubba Jintal, more “Aryan” than most hillbillies, takes his newly useful and very conservative “brown” to the bank.

  9. one thing to consider: the reason the south is growing is that people from the northeast and upper midwest are moving there. those people do not share the attitudes held by life-long southerners. So just because the south voted one way in the late 20th century doesn’t mean it will continue to vote that way as we move into the 21st century. the south, believe it or not, will be wide open within a decade.

  10. Racism is certainly a factor in this election. The simple fact is a certain percentage of the electorate WILL NOT vote for a black man.

    Likewise, a certain percentage of the electorate WILL NOT vote for a woman. And another percentage WILL NOT vote for Hillary.

    Justin was absolutely right: this is a deeply racist (and sexist) nation. Race, sex, as well as the inherent weaknesses of the Democratic candidates explains why a (to borrow a phrase) “twat” like McCain polls any higher than 20%. The latest polls show McCain winning, slightly, against Clinton while losing, slightly, against Obama. No Republican short of Lincoln should have a snowball’s chance in Hell to win the Presidency in 2008. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at present, and Racism is definitely among the reasons for that.

    1. Your negative phrasing in effect, and quite incisively, isolates a number of problems in all demographics and polling.

      Consider the following questions:

      (1) Will you never vote for a person of (fill-in) sex for President?

      (2) Will you never vote for a person you consider to be of (fill-in) race for President?

      For various reasons, ranging from the epistemological to the psychological, there is no way, in my opinion, to obtain any valid answer to these questions.

      At most you might get a minimal percentage who were willing to respond truthfully at this or that moment, and even that would not be worth much, would it?

      The irony is that the answers to analogous questions, phrased in regard to the past and as inquiries into why a voter did as he or she just did, after the vote or the election would be similarly worthless, if in a slightly different mode.

    2. No Republican short of Lincoln? lol. It always amazes me the process by which the worst of monsters get transformed by court historians and the state aggrandizing public school system into Gods to be worshipped by the heavily indoctrinated and the ignorant.

      Lincoln’s views on the “black race” were that they were naturally inferior to “whites.” He was an avid supporter of “colonization”, i.e., ethnically cleansing the U.S. by shipping blacks to places like Africa, Central America and Haiti. He wanted to prevent them from settling in the “new territories in the West”, preferring that these territories be the exclusive home of “free white people.” He was against social or political equality, believing that blacks and whites should not be allowed to intermarry and that blacks should not be allowed to vote, sit on a jury or hold political office.

      As far as Lincoln and the issue of slavery, he was an advocate of the “rights” of slaveholders, as demonstrated by his support of the Fugitive Slave Act, his support for a proposed Thirteenth Amendment to explicitly guarantee slavery, and his public pronouncements that he had no intention of interfering with the institution of slavery and that it was not the reason for the North’s invasion of the South. His Emancipation Proclamation was a desperate gimmick at a time when the North was losing the war and by Lincoln’s own admission had “reached the end of our rope.” Its purpose was to incite a slave rebellion in the South. It freed not a single slave because all the territory under Union control was exempt. In other words, as long as one was loyal to the federal government, slavery was OK.

      Lincoln was a self-appointed military dictator and usurper of the Constitution who destroyed the Republic of the founders. He authorized conscription (which is simply a euphemism for slavery) on a massive scale, which touched off violent riots in the North. He also suspended habeas corpus, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and interfered with free elections (in Maryland). Thousands of citizens in the Northern states were imprisoned without trial, or without even being charged with a crime, simply for offering views that dissented from his own with regard to the war and even domestic policy. Those imprisoned included not only anti-war protestors, but owners and editors of newspapers (that Lincoln shut down), state legislators, members of congress, priests and preachers.

      Unfortunately, Lincoln’s abuse of civilians did not stop there. In his prosecution of the war, he abandoned the rules of warfare laid out in the Geneva convention of 1863 which not only condemned wars of aggression (as opposed to defensive wars), but also forbid attacks against defenseless cities and towns, the plunder and wanton destruction of civilian property, and the taking from a civilian population more than was necessary to feed and sustain an occupying army. Lincoln’s “Lieber Code” effectively exempted all Federal military commanders from abiding by international law with respect to war crimes punishable by death or imprisonment, with predictable results. The micro-managing Lincoln ignored all criticism of his army’s conduct during the war, which was, by design, in flagrant violation of international law. Unarmed civilians were murdered and their property burned and plundered, not just individually but on the scale of entire towns and cities.

      Is it any wonder that our modern day neoconservatives worship Lincoln like a God? GW Bush only wishes he could behave in such an unrestrained manner.

      1. I don’t necessarily disagree with you about Lincoln’s record in office. Nonetheless, he was probably the greatest Republican ever to become President. And that doesn’t say much for the Grand Old Party, present company (e.g., Junior Bush and Insane McCain) most definitely included.

        1. As opposed to his record out of office, where Dishonest Abe served as a tool of the railroad barons tirelessly working on behalf of a mercantilist (read corporatism) vision for the country?

          Whether you agree with me or not is irrelevant. The facts are not in dispute, just whitewashed and hidden from children in the public schools and universities (indoctrination centers) lest they get the wrong idea about who it is we have erected monuments to and our current form of government.

          He was easily the worst Republican to ever become president, present company included.

      2. It always amazes me the process by which the worst of monsters get transformed by court historians and the state aggrandizing public school system into Gods to be worshipped by the heavily indoctrinated and the ignorant.


        Lincoln was unquestionably America’s greatest president.

        1. Abe Lincoln’s one undeniable achievement was the preservation of the Union. Whether or not he was the best person suited to the task is an irrelevant speculation. Love him or hate him, Lincoln is the reason why there is still a United States of America.

          That is an accomplishment no other Republican can claim, nor do any of them even come close.

  11. Oh stop it with “America is a racist country” and can minorities be elected. Its precisely this kind of claptrap nonsense which is used to club the electorates mind into its comatose state. At our blog,, we are all minorities, myself being the sole “white” male, whatever that may mean. Not one of us likes the way Obama exploits his imagined identity to score points and stir the media away from criticism. We don’t give a hoot about his ethnicity, when he isn’t using it. We just find him a biz zero.

    Instead of demographics, take a look at IQ. You’ll get a solid relationship there.

    1. My word, a self-categorized “white male”, whatever that may be, and negatively campaigning to “stop” Obama, and not because of his “ethnicity” (whatever that may be) but because his IQ is too high, you say?

      Just curious, are you campaigning as vigorously for impeachment, and against McCain, a proven incompetent from his earliest days in the Navy?

      1. Hmm…good question…what’s a bigger flaw for McCain…his incompetence or his mental instability?

Comments are closed.