The black vote is one of the most reliably Democratic constituencies out there. Blacks commonly give Democratic candidates more than 90% of the vote; Democratic presidential candidates in 2000, 2004, and 2008 won 90%, 89%, and 95% of blacks respectively.
Blacks were as reliably Democratic as ever in the 2010 midterm elections. The black vote undoubtedly saved many a Democrat from defeat. Exit polls indicate that 89% of blacks nationwide voted for a Democratic congressman.
In California, however, blacks seemed to have been quite a bit more Republican than this.
The table below indicates the black support, according to exit polls, gained by Republicans in California’s statewide races:
2010 Black Vote
Nationwide (House of Representatives)
This can be graphed as below:
Now, a word of caution before analyzing these results: exit polls are notoriously unreliable. It is entirely possible that a bad sample skewed these results (although since it appears that the polls for the two California races were separately done, this may be less likely).
If the exit polls prove correct, however, California blacks voted significantly more Republican than blacks elsewhere in the nation. Generally speaking, it is quite a feat for a Republican to get more than 15% of the black vote.
Yet in 2010 Republican candidates in California did this twice. These were not especially impressive candidates; both lost pretty badly. Nevertheless, they got a degree of black support one would only expect Republican to pull during a landslide victory.
Whether this degree of black support is something recent, or whether blacks in California have always voted this way, is hard to tell. According to exit polls, in 2008 they gave 94% of the vote to the Democratic candidate. In 2004 they gave 86% of the vote for Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (this was an election she won by a landslide). On the other hand, in 2004 a relatively paltry 70% voted for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides (who lost by a landslide). To round these numbers up, Senator John Kerry got 81% of the black vote that year.
Looking at the results does seem to indicate that blacks in California have been consistently more Republican than blacks nationwide, if not to the extent they were in 2010.
There are several reasons why this might have happened. Several years ago a blogger named dreaminonempty did a fascinating analysis, in which (s)he found that the blacks living in extremely non-black states tended to support Democrats less. For instance, blacks residing in states with higher black populations were more disapproving of President George W. Bush. This was the graph the blogger created:
Califonia is a state with a relatively low black population. Moreover, blacks in California are unusually integrated and getting more so. Places traditionally associated with the black community are rapidly diversifying. For instance, today Oakland is barely more than one-fourth black and Compton is less than one-third black.
California, then, constitutes a good example of dreaminonempty’s hypothesis. Its relatively racially integrated communities may have something to do with a less monolithically Democratic black vote.
Republicans should not start celebrating yet, however. Their relative strength amongst the black vote has very little to do with Republican success at appealing to minorities, and much more to do with the characteristics of California’s black community. If the party is ever to regain competitiveness in California, it must begin reaching out to minorities. Judging by the 2010 election results, this is still a challenge the party has yet to overcome.
This is part of three posts analyzing the 2010 South Carolina gubernatorial election, in which Republican Nikki Haley won a closer-than-expected victory over Democrat Vincent Sheheen. The main focus of these posts will be to explore whether a racial effect accounted for Ms. Haley’s unexpected poor performance.
(Note: This is also part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections.)
The previous post mapped out the relationship between Democratic shifts in 2010 and white registration numbers. Here is the relevant map reposted:
The post ended by noting that “So far this analysis has been relatively light on the statistical side of things.” It included a number of maps, but did not use any raw numbers.
This post aims to draw conclusions based on those numbers.
Let’s begin by translating the picture above into a graph:
This graph maps the relationship between how white a county in South Carolina is, and how much it shifted against non-white Republican candidate Nikki Haley in 2010.
If normally-Republican whites moved against Ms. Haley due to her race, one would expect the dots to be graphed in a roughly 45-degree diagonal line; the whiter a county, the more Democratic it would shift in 2010.
Clearly this is not the case in the graph above. There are a lot of very white counties that shifted strongly against Ms. Haley – but there are also a lot of very white counties that supported her more than they did Senator John McCain.
Indeed, the whitest counties seem to spread out into two groups; one group moves strongly against Ms. Haley, another actually shifts for her. One might speculate that the former group is composed of lower-income, rural whites and the latter is composed of higher-income, metropolitan whites.
To test this theory, the previous post adjusted for income by eliminating all the counties with a median household income greater than the state median (i.e. it got rid of the rich whites). Here is what the result looked like:
There seems to be a correlation here, as the previous post noted.
Here is how the relationship looks on a graph:
The group of white counties which shifted towards Ms. Haley has disappeared. Instead, one sees a much stronger trend: the whiter the county, the more strongly it moved against non-white Republican Governor Nikki Haley.
This only happens once high-income white counties are tossed out of the analysis. High-income Republican whites were very comfortable voting for non-white Republicans; low income Republican whites were less willing.
Interestingly, this pattern is not unique to South Carolina. In Louisiana, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal – a non-white individual of Indian descent – did extremely poorly amongst rural, low-income (Republican) whites while winning landslide support amongst high-income, suburban (Republican) whites. This caused Mr. Jindal to lose in his first attempt to run for governor.
Finally, one can test whether the effect above is statistically significant, or just the result of randomness.
Here is a regression analysis run on the 2010 South Carolina gubernatorial race:
Regression analysis is something I am still not fully comfortable with, so bear this in mind as the analysis continues.
The regression attempted to use two variables – race and income – to predict whether voters would vote more Democratic in 2010. Specifically, it used the percent of white registered voters in a county and said county’s median household income.
The model states that every 10% increase in white registered voters results in a 3.65% greater Democratic shift against Ms. Haley (this is the Coefficient column at the bottom left).
More importantly, whiteness and income were statistically significant when placed together; there was a 0.1% chance that the effect of whiteness was random, and a 0.4% chance that the effect of income was random (this is the P>|t| column at the bottom center).
So the evidence is fairly strong that racially-based voting by low-income whites hurt non-white Republican Ms. Haley in 2010.
There is, however, a caveat. The above regression only explains 20% of the variance between the different degrees of Democratic shifts between different counties (this is the Adj R-Squared line at the top right). This means that 80% of the variance is not explained by race and income.
Racism probably hurt Ms. Haley in 2010, but it was far from the only factor.
P.S. Here is the relevant data used to built this analysis:
This is the second part of three posts analyzing the 2010 South Carolina gubernatorial election, in which Republican Nikki Haley won a closer-than-expected victory over Democrat Vincent Sheheen. The main focus of these posts will be to explore whether a racial effect accounted for Ms. Haley’s unexpected poor performance.
The previous post can be found here, and the next post can be found here.
(Note: This is also part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections.)
How to Find a Racial Effect
The purpose of this series of posts is to determine whether or not Ms. Haley’s relatively weak performance was due to a racial effect.
In order to due this, it’s necessary to define what to look for. In this case, it would be normally Republican voters abandoning Ms. Haley due to her race.
Now, South Carolina is a state in which less than 5% of the population is neither white nor black; minorities other than blacks play a negligible role in the state’s politics. It is also a very racially polarized state, like most places in the Deep South. Blacks vote Democratic; whites vote Republican.
There is one final factor to take into account. When Republican Bobby Jindal ran for governor in 2003 and faced racially-based opposition by (white) Republicans, such opposition was not evenly distributed. The Republicans who abandoned Mr. Jindal tended to be predominantly from rural, relatively lower income areas. This is something that is not especially surprising, although it conforms to some unfortunate stereotypes.
For these reasons, an examination of Republicans who abandoned Ms. Haley for racial reasons would look specifically at areas with lower-income whites. These areas would be expected to shift more Democratic than the norm.
To begin this post, let’s examine the places where Republicans improved upon their 2008 performance, and the places where Democrats improved upon 2008.
Naturally, given that Ms. Haley did worse than Mr. Sheheen, one would expect Democrats to have relatively more improvement.
This turns out to be the case:
Here one sees a very interesting regional pattern, a pattern that I did not expect when making this map.
The northern parts of South Carolina moved strongly Democratic in 2010. The sole exception is York County, which for whatever reason shifted Republican (there is, strangely enough, very little that differentiates this county with others in the region; nor did either Ms. Haley or Mr. Sheheen represent the county as politicians before 2010).
On the other hand, the coastal regions actually supported Ms. Haley more than they did Senator John McCain.
This is a very interesting regional divide; it is something that is entirely hidden by normal partisan patterns.
Now, let’s take a look at white registration figures:
This map shows what percent of South Carolina’s registered voters are white. The information is mandated by the Voting Rights Act, given South Carolina’s history of preventing minorities from voting, and can be found at this website. It is also quite useful for the purposes of this analysis. (For fun: compare this map to President Barack Obama’s performance).
In order to make comparisons easier, the same color scale was used in this map as in the previous map. The whiter a county’s voter population, the bluer the county on the map.
If white Republican voters rejected Ms. Haley due to her race, then the whitest counties here would also have the strongest Democratic shift (i.e. the colors in each map would roughly match).
Let’s compare the maps:
There is a bit of a match, but not much. A lot of very white counties shift strongly against Ms. Haley, but a lot of them also shift strongly for her (especially along the coast).
One can reasonably conclude that a lot of white voters – i.e. Republicans – remained loyal to Ms. Haley despite her Indian heritage.
This is not entirely unexpected. Mr. Jindal also retained a large amount of white support, mainly amongst suburban and wealthy whites.
Adjusting For Income
Where Mr. Jindal did especially poorly – and why he lost the 2003 gubernatorial election – was amongst rural, lower income whites in Louisiana.
Let’s therefore shift this analysis by adjusting for income; in other words, by focusing upon lower-income counties in South Carolina.
South Carolina’s median household income was $42,580 as of 2009, according to Census Data (which can be accessed here).
One can therefore adjust for income by restricting the analysis only to those counties in which median household income was below the state median.
This is what happens:
This looks like a far stronger relationship. In the poorer parts of South Carolina, it appears that the whiter the county, the more against Ms. Haley it shifted.
It seems that we have found something here.
So far this analysis has been relatively light on the statistical side of things; it kind of looks like there is a pattern in the map above, but perhaps there isn’t one. How likely is it that this could have occurred by chance?
This is the first part of three posts analyzing the 2010 South Carolina gubernatorial election, in which Republican Nikki Haley won a closer-than-expected victory over Democrat Vincent Sheheen. The main focus of these posts will be to explore whether a racial effect accounted for Ms. Haley’s unexpected poor performance.
(Note: This is also part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections.)
It was the October, 2010 in South Carolina. Nikki Haley, Republican candidate for South Carolina governor, was cruising. She was a conservative candidate – endorsed by none other than Sarah Palin herself – running in a conservative state, in the best Republican year in a generation.
Opinionpolls showed the Republican politician leading by double-digits. Even the most pessimistic gave Ms. Haley a high single digit lead.
On election day, however, Ms. Haley won by only 4.5%:
(Note: Edited NYT Image)
What could have accounted for Ms. Haley’s poor performance?
Several factors come to mind. Ms. Haley was not an uncontroversial candidate; her positions were conservative even for South Carolina. The Democratic candidate, Vincent Sheheen, might have been an unnaturally talented campaigner. And there is always the factor of randomness to take into account. There were hundreds of races in November; the polls would inevitably be inaccurate on one or two, and this race just happened to be one of them.
Or perhaps there is another explanation – a particularly ugly one, but one that lurks at the back of everybody’s head. Ms. Haley was an woman of Indian heritage running to govern South Carolina, a state with not exactly the most innocent racial history. Throughout the campaign, Ms. Haley was subject to attacks that implicitly played up the racial angle: she had had affairs with white men (unfortunately for the accusers, this attack doesn’t work as well against women), she wasn’t Christian or was only pretending to be one, and so on.
It is not unimaginable that a sort of Bradley effect took place in South Carolina, that a number of normally steadfast Republicans balked at voting for the first non-white and female governor in history.
This is a serious accusation, and therefore needs serious evidence. The next post will therefore begin an extensive examination of whether Ms. Haley’s race undermined her performance.
This is the first part of two posts analyzing patterns in the 2010 Senate midterm elections. The second part can be found here.
The 2010 congressional midterm elections constituted, by and large, a victory for the Republican Party. In the Senate Republicans gained six seats. While this was somewhat below expectations, it was much better than Republican hopes just after 2008 – when many expected the party to actually lose seats.
The Senate results provide some interesting fodder for analysis. The table below indicates which Republicans Senate candidates did the worst in 2008. It does so by taking the Republican margin of victory or defeat in a given state and subtracting this by the Cook PVI of the state (the Cook PVI is how a state would be expected to vote in a presidential election in the event of an exact tie nationwide). Given that Republicans won the nationwide vote this year, the average Republican candidate would be expected to do better than the state’s PVI. A bad Republican candidate would actually do worse than the state’s PVI.
Let’s take a look at this table below the flip.
New York (S)
(Note: The data in Alaska and Florida refer to the official candidates nominated by the parties, not the independent candidates – Senator Lisa Murkowski and Governor Charlie Crist – who ran in the respective states).
This table reveals some fascinating trends. There is a very clear pattern: the worst Republican candidates ran in the bluest states – and the bluer the state, the more the Republican underperformed. This does not just mean that these Republicans lost, but that they lost by more than the average Republican was supposed to in the state. Republican candidates did worse than the state’s PVI in thirteen states; nine of these states had a Democratic PVI.
There seems to be a PVI tipping point at which Republicans start underperforming: when a state is more than 5% Democratic than the nation (PVI D+5). Only one Republican in the nine states that fit this category overperformed the state PVI (Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois ).
Something is puzzling about this pattern. It is true that states like Connecticut or Maryland will probably vote Democratic even in Republican victories. The Cook PVI predicts that Democrats will win by X% in the event of a national tie in the popular vote. One would thus have expected Republican candidates to do better than this in 2010, given that 2010 was the strongest Republican performance in a generation.
Yet this did not happen. In a lot of blue states Democrats actually did better than the Cook PVI would project them to do – that is, said blue states behaved like the Democrats had actually won the popular vote, which they certainly did not in 2010. The bluer the state, the stronger this pattern.
There are a couple of reasons why this might be. The first thing that comes to mind is the money and recruiting game. The Republican Party, reasonably enough, does not expect its candidates to win in places like New York and Maryland . So it puts less effort into Republican candidates in those states. They get less money – and therefore less advertising, less ground game, and so on. Nobody had any idea who the Republican candidate in Vermont was, for instance. That probably contributes to Republican underperformance in deep-blue states.
The second factor might be a flaw in the model the table uses. Democratic and Republican strongholds, for whatever reason, behave differently from “uniform swing” models. In almost all the counties President Barack Obama won, for instance, he improved upon President Bill Clinton 1992 and 1996 performance – despite the fact that Mr. Clinton won by similar margins in the popular vote. This holds true from San Francisco to rural Mississippi . In the 2010 Massachusetts special Senate election, the most Democratic areas of Massachusetts swung least towards Republican Senator Scott Brown. The fact that the worst Republican candidates ran in the bluest states fits the pattern.
The table presents another startling pattern, which will be discussed in the next post: there are surprisingly few Republicans who did worse than they were supposed to in red states.
All too often, I hear the Beltway pundits chatter away over national poll numbers, party fundraising, who’s hiring which lobbyists, what the strategists at The White House must REALLY be thinking, and so much more.
But you know what? Here in what may be one of the districts that determines who will control Congress next year, none of that really matters. People here are asking who has solutions to the actual problems that plague us.
“For Sale” signs hang in front of houses on most blocks. Apartment buildings fly banners advertising discounted rent and free Internet to lure tenants into vacant units. Businesses are closing, and the ones staying open are cutting employees’ hours. The district leads the nation in unemployment and the state in foreclosures.
In interviews with the Sun, the overwhelming sentiment among voters of all political persuasions is that government is not working.
How to fix it? That’s the debate that will decide this congressional race – and the races for U.S. Senate and governor.
And I know all about these real problems, as my own friends and family here have suffered in this economy. They’ve lost jobs. They’ve come dangerously close to foreclosure. And I’ve felt scared.
No, most of my fellow voters in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District aren’t paying too much attention to the DC chatter. They just want solutions to the problems we’re facing here.
Over the past year, her office estimates Titus has saved constituents $2.4 million, most of it by reworking mortgages. (Some of the savings is from unrelated help, including securing veterans’ or Social Security benefits.)
Five staffers in Titus’ district office in Las Vegas now handle housing problems, in addition to the jobs they were hired to do. They have no formal training in real estate or mortgage finance. Each carries about 100 cases at a time. One staffer has personally handled 300 cases.
The group started out rescuing homes from foreclosure in much the same way homeowners facing foreclosure do, dialing up the banks’ call centers and asking for help. They got put on hold, transferred, disconnected.
They learned by “trial and error.” Each time they found a bank staffer who seemed competent, they jotted down the name and number, and returned with new cases. They built relationships.
Dr. Heck even used the same wording as Angle, “the role of Congress is not to create jobs”, and he also wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare, just as Sharron Angle wants to do. In fact,Dr. Heck took $5000.00 dollars for signing a pledge to privatize Social Security and Medicare.
For more than 200 years, voters in every State have sent their elected officials to DC to help bring money back to their States for all kinds of special projects that create jobs.
There are thousands of special projects across the country and most of them are worthy projects and deserving of our federal dollars, not all special projects are pork.
Because of Nevada’s Democratic delegation of Dina Titus, Shelly Berkley, and Harry Reid, new jobs are being created for Nevada.
Solar plants, wind turbines, and geothermal are all being expanded in our State, and with that expansion comes jobs. A new high speed train system from Southern California to Las Vegas will be built, which will bring more tourists to our State, which will create new jobs. A new VA hospital, more jobs, etc. You get the idea.
None of those special projects could have happened without the help of the federal government and the federal dollars that our elected officials help to secure for those special projects.
What, you thought we could talk about Nevada politics without bringing up Sharron Angle??!!
But of course, there’s a flip to this. What about this guy?
Yep, Harry Reid factors very much into this as well. Not that long ago, when Reid was considered “a goner”, many pundits were also quick to write off Titus. However, I had thought otherwise for some time… And now, I’m hoping and doing whatever I can to ensure I’ll be proven right in November.
For one, it’s not like everyone here is ignorant as to who’s been working hard to deliver some much needed help.
In addition, Angle and Heck are doing themselves (and each other) no favors in refusing to offer any help and skewing so far to the right.
Phil Esser, 68, a music minister in Boulder City, said he voted for Porter two years ago because he trusted him. This year, Esser will vote for Titus.
“I think she’s doing a good job.”
For Esser, it comes down to the approach. The Tea Party, with its aggressive anti-establishment campaign, turns him off. He sees local Republicans, including Heck, as sharing the Tea Party vision.
“It’s kind of like the old Ross Perot party, but with torches,” Esser said. “Ross Perot wanted change and accountability in government. I thought that was healthy for our political system. But I don’t see that now with the Tea Party people insisting our president is a Muslim.”
In the U.S. Senate race, Esser plans to vote for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the same reasons. Two years ago, Esser was unsure whether he would vote to re-elect Reid.
And here’s another thing that the pundits don’t see, but I do. I see Dina Titus out in the community all the time, whether it’s at festive events like the Boulder City Damboree Parade…
Or at all the “Congress on the Corner” open house days with constituents and other events throughout the community where she just takes time to listen to us and whatever concerns we have to share with her. Honestly, I really can’t think of any representative I’ve had to deal with before who was more available and more accessible than Dina is. If I had to grade Dina on constituent service, she’d easily get an A+!
(And for the record, I still haven’t seen Heck anywhere around here…)
And finally, there’s a little something I consider to be Nevada Democrats‘ “secret weapon” in winning this election. No, I’m not really about EMILY’s List or President Obama coming to town, though both will certainly be helpful in keeping NV-03 and the entire state blue. No, I’m talking about something that I saw being built up in 2008, and is now operating in full force.
The state party has been very wise in investing in a strong party structure and strong field operation designed to turn out votes for Reid, and for Titus here in NV-03. Whenever I stop by my local office in Henderson, I always see volunteers on the phones and field organizers at work planning walks and other events. Even while we may be freaking out over poll numbers and White House rumors and lobbyist chatter online, they’re laying the essential groundwork for any kind of Democratic win here in November. And most importantly, the base is busy at work here.
Now don’t get me wrong, we can’t take anything for granted here. Times are turbulent, people are restless, and there’s still so much more to do to get our state and our country back on track.
However, I feel a sense of zen calm when I think about what might happen in November. I listen to what my neighbors have to say at our “poolside chats”. (Yes, I’m fortunate enough to have two lovely pools in my suburban gated community in Henderson.) I always let them start the discussion, and they tell me about how Sharron Angle scares them or how Dina Titus had a card table outside the grocery store or how Harry Reid brought home more funds for UNLV. As long as they, and all the other sane folks here vote, we’ll win. 😉
The upcoming 2010 mid-term elections are causing me some mild anxiety, and I don’t know if there is an appropriate historical model for this election. I’m asking for some insight from the SSP nation on what they see is the best historical model.
1. A moderately popular Democratic President currently occupies the White House, although his popularity is not as strong as the day he was sworn in.
2. The United States’ economy is hopefully in “recovery” mode from The Great Recession. Most of the events leading to The Great Recession began under the Bush Administration.
3. The opposition to the Obama administration is energized (note: I don’t necessarily believe that “opposition” is solely the Republican base. Certain factions within the Tea Party movement seems to be at odds with both the Obama Administration and the Republicans that were in power during the Bush Administration).
4. Health Care legislation. This is not to debate the health care legislation, but instead to compare how the electorate reacted to other administrations’ attempts to pass meaningful health care reform.
5. Since the 2004 elections, the Democrats have (net) gained 14 seats in the Senate, 54 seats in the House, and the White House.
6. The United States has 2 wars, 1 in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan.
Mid-term elections in the past
I haven’t included all the mid-term elections in the past, but instead a select sample that we may compare to the current environment:
1930 mid-term elections. The Stock Market crashed in October 1929, and the Great Depression was sinking into the United States. Democrats won 8 seats in the Senate, and 52 seats in the House.
1934 mid-term elections. Combining the results from the 1930 and 1932 elections, the Democrats had already picked up 149 seats in the House and 21 seats in the Senate, plus a new Democratic President. In the 1934 mid-terms, the Democrats picked up an additional 9 seats in both the House and the Senate. During this time FDR passed some key New Deal legislation.
1938 mid-term elections. Although in 1936 the Democrats won an additional 12 seats in the House and 6 seats in the Senate, there was certain opposition to some of FDR’s “court-packing” plan. In addition, a recession hit the United States around 1937. In 1938, the Democrats lost 7 seats in the Senate and 72 seats in the House.
1946 mid-term elections. Harry Truman is now President, but he’s not a popular President. At the time, Truman was not considered by most to be as presidential as FDR. Although WWII was over, the Dems becaming the minority party, losing 55 seats in the House and 12 seats in the Senate.
1966 mid-term elections. After the 1964 elections, with LBJ winning in a land-slide, the Dems had a 295-140 advantage in the House and a 67-33 advantage in the Senate. The LBJ introduced the Great Society, which included Medicare/Medicaid. In addition, the Vietnam war had heated up. The Dems lost 48 seats in the house and 3 seats in the senate.
1978 mid-term elections. In 1976, the United States elected a Georgian named Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter was considered an honest man who could clean up DC. Instead, President Carter fought with his own party over various issues. The economy wasn’t strong, but it wasn’t yet weak from subsequent stagflation. In the 1978 mid-terms, the Dems lost 3 seats in the Senate and 15 seats in the House.
1982 mid-term elections. The United States elected former California Governor and former actor Ronald Reagan as President. However, the economy was in recession with inflation and unemployment high. Although Reagan is charismatic, his popularity had started to plunge. In the 1982 mid-terms, the Dems gained 27 seats in the House. The Senate, in Republican control (54-46) did not change.
1994 mid-term elections. Bill Clinton was elected 2 years prior with 43% of the vote, and he pushed some ambitious legislation to Congress. Gun-control legislation passed, but Health-care reform died. The Dems lost 54 seats in the house and 8 seats in the Senate. The Republicans are now in control.
As most of you can see, the current 2010 elections are not exactly like any of the above, but all of them have certain similarities to the current environment. Please vote on which model is the closest to our current situation. I’d like any additional thoughts to this diary.