Analyzing the South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, Part 3

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.)


More below.

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:

County % Change   Democratic % White   Registered Median   Household Income
Abbeville 21.31% 69.08% 33,995
Aiken -1.30% 75.02% 43,845
Allendale 1.65% 25.09% 23,942
Anderson 15.75% 83.40% 41,399
Bamberg -1.54% 37.56% 28,266
Barnwell 0.40% 55.31% 30,549
Beaufort -8.27% 79.47% 54,085
Berkeley -1.32% 68.74% 49,609
Calhoun 4.72% 54.90% 39,537
Charleston -5.41% 69.36% 46,145
Cherokee 14.40% 77.45% 35,807
Chester 4.69% 59.40% 33,640
Chesterfield 15.82% 64.00% 32,267
Clarendon 2.28% 48.66% 29,840
Colleton 1.83% 58.16% 35,935
Darlington 6.87% 56.31% 34,577
Dillon 7.62% 49.11% 28,653
Dorchester -2.37% 72.07% 52,443
Edgefield 0.86% 62.79% 38,885
Fairfield 4.28% 42.02% 32,694
Florence 6.49% 58.12% 39,919
Georgetown -2.40% 66.73% 40,573
Greenville 4.41% 78.49% 45,917
Greenwood 12.18% 68.35% 39,586
Hampton 3.50% 42.67% 32,253
Horry -5.72% 85.98% 41,163
Jasper -4.05% 47.30% 35,163
Kershaw 33.41% 72.24% 45,268
Lancaster 9.10% 75.12% 40,286
Laurens 10.15% 71.81% 36,910
Lee 7.02% 37.11% 28,041
Lexington 15.99% 84.74% 52,062
Marion 5.55% 41.82% 28,437
Marlboro 9.87% 44.75% 26,799
McCormick -7.63% 57.41% 35,557
Newberry 13.21% 69.01% 37,263
Oconee 17.25% 91.39% 39,840
Orangeburg 2.19% 34.54% 33,567
Pickens 15.13% 91.76% 40,357
Richland 7.18% 49.90% 45,643
Saluda 15.99% 70.11% 40,819
Spartanburg 7.39% 76.07% 40,278
Sumter -0.65% 48.08% 37,113
Union 21.54% 67.31% 32,361
Williamsburg 1.43% 31.59% 26,639
York -5.13% 78.89% 50,644
Total 4.52% 69.66% 42,580

Analyzing the South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, Part 2

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.)


More below.

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.

Democratic Shifts

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?

The next post will answer this question.


Analyzing the South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, Part 1

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.

The next post can be found here.

(Note: This is also part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections.)


More below.

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.

Opinion polls 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.


Race and Modern-Day Political Advertising

By: Inoljt,

In the world of campaign commercials, race seems to be invoked in an increasingly and worryingly explicit way.

Let’s take a look at some old commercials and compare them to contemporary ones.

Here, for instance, is the famous “Willie Horton” commercial, which doomed Governor Mike Dukakis’s campaign for president:

More below.

This commercial is often the first thing people think about when talking about “racist” political ads. The story goes that the “death penalty” constituted a code word for race-baiting, and that the use of Willie Horton – a black man – was intended to arouse racial fears of black violence.

Let’s compare this old ad with a more modern one.

Here is a 2010 ad on undocumented immigrants:

This ad was shown by Republican Senator David Vitter in his 2010 re-election campaign. Mr. Vitter won an easy re-election, campaigning in a conservative state (Louisiana) in a conservative year.

With Mr. Bush’s ad, one has to look pretty hard to see the supposed racism. Only two pictures of a black man are used, and each image is fairly race-neutral by itself.

Mr. Vitter’s ad, on the other hand, is much more explicit. The ad shows endless hordes of brown people breaking through fences, while an announcer spits out “illegals” like a curse word. It’s pretty clear that all the “illegals” are Latino, and that all the victims are white.

On the score of which ad is more racist, Mr. Vitter’s ad – the more modern one – wins hands down.

This is true for other ads as well. Here is an ad on welfare by President Richard Nixon:

Mr. Nixon was accused of running an undercover “racist” campaign, using code words like “welfare” and “law-and-order” to appeal to racial resentments.

Yet out of all four ads, this one is probably the least racist by far. One has to really stretch to “find” racism in this ad (e.g. the construction worker is in the inner-city, which is full of minorities, and so the ad could theoretically be pointing out that inner-city minorities will benefit from welfare).

Now compare this to another contemporary ad:

This ad was run by Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln against her primary opponent, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. Ms. Lincoln went on to barely win the primary, only to lose by a landslide in the general election.

Once again, the more modern ad is much more obvious than Mr. Nixon’s ad in the use of race. Indian foreigners speaking accented English thank Mr. Halter for outsourcing jobs, while “Indian” music plays and stereotypic images of India play in the background.

The political equivalent in 1972 would have been to show black people in the ghetto thanking Democrats for welfare in “ghetto” English.

In 1972 politicians did not dare do this. Yet in 2010 they are more than willing to show Indians and Latinos in quite racist ads.

All in all, Americans – or, more accurately, humans in general – like to think that things are always getting better. Technology is always improving, people are always living longer, and freedom and democracy are always on the rise.

This applies with race relations as well. The dominant narrative is that America’s treatment of its minorities is in a continuous progression upwards, from the low beginnings of slavery to the first black president and onwards. America’s minorities have never been treated as well as they are now, in this view.

Everything that is said above is mostly true – indeed the world is healthier, freer, and more technologically advanced than ever before. And America’s minorities do have more opportunities than ever before.

Nevertheless, in at least one aspect of race relations, America portrays minorities worse than it did two generations ago.

Bobby Jindal’s Strange 2003 Coalition, Part 2

This is the second part of two posts analyzing Louisiana’s 2003  gubernatorial election, in which Republican candidate Bobby Jindal  narrowly lost to lieutenant governor Kathleen Blanco. It will focus on racial dynamics in the 2003 election. The previous part can be found here.

Race and Bobby Jindal’s 2003 Run

In my previous post, I began analyzing the electoral coalition that voted for Mr. Jindal. As a map of the election below indicates, he drew support heavily from the New Orleans suburbs, while doing extremely poorly in the rural north:

Bobby Jindal's Strange 2003 Coalition,Part 2

More below.

Discomfort with Mr. Jindal’s race probably accounted for most his underperformance in the rural north. Take La Salle Parish, for instance. Located in the northern stretches of Louisiana, the parish constitutes a typical example of the rural conservatism that backs much of the Republican Party. The district is very thinly populated; in 2003 less than 5,000 people voted in total. It is also quite poor; 2000 census figures indicate that per capita income was only two-thirds of the American average. And it is 86% white.

Like many of its rural peers, La Salle Parish usually votes Republican. It gave Senator John McCain 85.5% of the vote – which probably means that every single white person voted for Mr. McCain, and that every single black person voted for Mr. Obama. Mr. Jindal, however, received less than 40% of the vote in this staunch Republican district.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Jindal also did unremarkably with black voters. Exit polls indicated that he drew about 9% of the black vote in 2003. This was better than most Louisiana Republicans, but not exactly an impressive performance (reaching more than 20%, or even 15%, of black support is considered an extremely strong performance for a Republican politician – especially in the Deep South). African-Americans, it appeared, did not seem to view Mr. Jindal much differently from a typical white Republican in Louisiana.

White voters in rural Louisiana apparently did. A look at white supremacist David Duke’s 1991 run for governor provides a revealing context:

Bobby Jindal's Strange 2003 Coalition,Part 2

Of the 19 deeply conservative, mostly rural parishes that voted for Mr. Duke, only four could bring themselves to vote for a deeply conservative but non-white Republican. Mr. Duke won two-thirds of the vote in La Salle Parish.

On the other hand, Mr. Duke lost almost all of Louisiana’s conservative southeast; he only managed to win one of the suburban New Orleans parishes Mr. Jindal dominated. These parishes vote equally Republican, if not more so, as places like La Salle Parish.

The disparate supporters of Mr. Jindal and Mr. Duke point to an interesting division in the Republican coalition of Louisiana. Usually this division is not noticed, since Republicans generally hold it together well; only rarely does one leg of the coalition bolt altogether, as in the gubernatorial elections of 1991 and 2003.

Nevertheless, there are indeed two parts of Louisiana’s Republican base. One part, represented by northern Louisiana, is largely rural and poor; in bygone days it formed the core of both Huey Long’s support and the Solid South. The other, located largely in the suburbs surrounding New Orleans, is mostly suburban and relatively wealthy; it will vote for a Bobby Jindal but not a David Duke.

Indeed, these two strands of Republicanism are present not just in Louisiana but throughout the nation. Which strand the Republican Party decides to model itself after in the future will play a great deal in shaping the future of the party, as well as that of the nation.

Post-mortem: Following his 2003 defeat, Mr. Jindal campaigned heavily in the rural regions that had voted against him. In 2007, the Republican was elected governor with 54.3% of the vote; his next closest opponent won 17.6%. Mr. Jindal won almost every parish in the state, including many of the rural, conservative parishes that had voted against him in 2003 – proving that racism is not an impossible obstacle to surmount.


Bobby Jindal’s Strange 2003 Coalition, Part 1

By: Inoljt,

This is the first part of two posts analyzing Louisiana’s 2003 gubernatorial election, in which Republican candidate Bobby Jindal narrowly lost to lieutenant governor Kathleen Blanco. The second part can be found here.

Bobby Jindal’s Strange Coalition

In 2003, an ambitious Bobby Jindal ran for Louisiana governor against Democratic candidate Kathleen Blanco. Despite holding a narrow polling lead throughout most of the campaign, Mr. Jindal ended up losing by a three-point margin.

The story of the coalition that voted for Mr. Jindal constitutes quite the interesting tale. It is much different from the Republican base as commonly envisioned in the Deep South.

To begin, let’s take a look at a map of the election – which is substantially different from most modern electoral maps. Here it is:

Bobby Jindal's Strange 2003 Coalition,Part 1

More below.

The first thing that strikes the eye is the sheer number of parishes Mr. Jindal lost. He was absolutely crushed in rural Louisiana.

This is a remarkable thing. In the United States of today, it is usually an accomplishment for a Democrat to win a state’s rural counties, even in a landslide. Democrats almost never win the rural vote when the election is close.

Mr. Jindal, of course, got 48% of the vote somewhere. As it turns out, these votes came mainly from the state’s most populous parishes. The state’s most populous parish – Jefferson Parish – voted for Mr. Jindal by more than a 3-to-2 margin. In New Orleans, with the endorsement of Mayor Ray Nagin, Mr. Jindal did as well as possible for a Republican, winning almost one-third of the vote.

In other words, Mr. Jindal used strong margins from metropolitan, suburban Louisiana to counter Ms. Blanco’s rural strength and New Orleans – a strategy more familiar to Democrats than Republicans.

Here is a more “normal” election in Louisiana:

Bobby Jindal's Strange 2003 Coalition,Part 1

Although it does not look like it, Republican candidate Suzanne Terrell did only one point better than Mr. Jindal.

There are substantial differences in their coalitions, however. Ms. Terrell did worse in the populous southeast, although the map does not show it well. She lost Baton Rouge (which Mr. Jindal won) and took only one-fifth of the vote in New Orleans, compared to the one-third Mr. Jindall racked up.

On the other hand, Ms. Terrell performed far better in rural, northern Louisiana – winning a number of thinly populated, poor parishes that Mr. Jindal lost. It was Mr. Jindal’s performance that constituted the aberration; deeply conservative, these parishes are a core part of the Republican base.

The next section will focus on the racial dynamics that caused this effect.

Website warning

For 3 years I have been visiting and sometimes contributing comments to the HEDGEHOG REPORT, which is a republican website that was once known for excellent polling data and analysis. I came as a centrist to the website to see what the right thinks.

The website-master, Dave Wissing, is excellent at putting out polling data. For a long time, only he front-paged the site.

However, since he began to let others front page at his once fine website, it has quickly degenerated into a massive racist anti-Obama hate fest.

For instance, did you know that it was expected that President Obama should serve up Colt 45 malt liquor at his now famous beer summit, since the stuff is cheap and the malt industry targets blacks, college students and the homeless? And this is mild compared to the postings of many visitors.

Apparently, many conservatives think that they can be clever and can slide in blatantly racist claims under the cloak of civility.

Once again, it is a sad day for the republican party, for most all of these comments are coming from members of the republican party. I will be doing a large post soon on the most obvious racist explosions within the GOP over the last year and you will be amazed at the frequency of such happenings.

Dave Wissing reminded me of the following :

“I would tend to agree with you on the tactics of some Republicans are using to attack Obama, but I will not apologize for anything ******** or ******** posted.  They expressed their opinion and anyone was free to disagree. ”

Since Dave Wissing is using the 1st amendment to allow such material on his website, then I am also going to use the first amendment and warn all of my friends, aquaintances and contacts to steer clear of his website.

Avoid the HEDGEHOG REPORT. It is not what it used to be.

Yes, MSNBC. There Are Racists in the GOP

To help get these clowns out of Congress, chip in to help their eventual Democratic challengers.

And in other news, the sun came up this morning.

When I (James) went on MSNBC two weeks ago to talk about immigration reform, I didn’t think that I had anything that outlandish to say. Contessa Brewer, the daytime host, asked Republican strategist Ben Porrit and me if we thought we were going to get immigration reform passed and I said frankly that we won’t, because there is a segment of the Republican party that is racist and will stand in the way of real reform. Simple enough, right?

Well, after my turn at the 1:25 mark, when I said that within the Republican Party there is a segment of that group that is very anti-immigration, and essentially racist, Contessa and Ben reacted as though I had insulted one of their mothers (or both). When I finished, I immediately called Max Bernstein, who co-chairs dotPAC with me, to ask if I had said something really out of line because I got cut off and everyone had their mouths agape with shock that I could say such a thing. He certainly didn’t think so, and with good reason.

Yes, total shock at the idea that there is a racist segment of the Republican Party. The distribution of the Barack the Magic Negro song by a candidate for the RNC Chairmanship and former leader of the Tennessee Republican Party? The SoCal mayor who made and sent a postcard of the White House lawn with watermelons sprouted all over it? Macaca? The 24 hour news cycle makes for unbelievably short memories, clearly.

Those examples aside, there is a segment of the GOP that brings that attitude to the immigration debate, and it’s made up of House members, not the aforementioned marginal figures in the Party. To start, here’s Dana Rohrabacher, the Congressman from the pristine beach communities in Southern Los Angeles and Northern Orange County on Real Time with Bill Maher:

“ROHRABACHER: It’s bad for the American people to have so many people coming in from overseas, bidding down the wages of our average person, taking – and at the same time, a lot of employers aren’t giving the same kind of benefits. So we end up with less tax revenue. We end up with our education system under – collapsing under this pressure. Our health care system collapsing under the pressure.

MAHER: You’re blaming all that on the Mexicans?

ROHRABACHER: Yes, I am. Yes, I am.”

Next up, we have Houston congressman John Culberson. Culberson is known for being on the cutting edge of his use of technology and social networking, but when it comes to the viewpoint behind the tweeting and Qik-videoing, he falls somewhere between the age of internment camps and the McCarthy era. Observe:

“A concern that I continue to see is that a lot of those scientists from communist China, my impression is, and correct me if I am wrong, come here and learn as much as they can, and then leave. And I’m not really all that much into helping the communists figure out how to better target their intercontinental ballistic missiles at the United States. They basically steal our technology for military applications. And they are red China, let’s not forget.”

We can’t forget this one either:

“A large number of Islamic individuals have moved into homes in Nuevo Laredo and are being taught Spanish to assimilate with the local culture.”

The context here is how, to quote the Twittering idiot, “Al Qaeda terrorists and Chinese nationals are infiltrating our country virtually anywhere they choose from Brownsville to San Diego.” Yes John, those brown people just learn Spanish and all of a sudden no one can tell them apart, as they assimilate with the rest of the local brown culture.

Then we have James Sensenbrenner, who authored a piece of paranoid legislation that had it become law would have subjected all Hispanics in America to ritualistic profiling and relentless eligibility and citizenship tests in all aspects of their everyday lives. If you have 15 minutes and feel like losing your appetite, go read the bill.

And we can’t forget Michele Bachmann of Minnesota:

“One amendment [to a MN legislature budget] was offered that said that drivers license tests should be in English only, and that amendment failed. It’s an outrage, it’s unthinkable…”

Nevermind that this was in response to a tragic and fatal car accident where the perpetrator was an undocumented immigrant with a phony license, and having an English requirement for a drivers license would send the fake ID business through the roof. Bachmann’s unmatched abilities to match bigotry with mere poor logic were also on display last September when she plamed the entire subprime mortgage crisis on the fact that banks didn’t just stick to lending money to white folks.

So yes, Ben and Contessa. There is a segment of the Republican party that is clearly racist and will block real immigration reform by appealing to the xenophobic wing of their constituency that keeps them edging past their opponents every two years.

That’s why dotPAC is raising money for each of these bigots’ eventual Democratic challengers on ActBlue, and running ads in each of their districts on Facebook highlighting their indecency. Give a few bucks to the eventual Democratic nominees and show these bigots that they have no place in mainstream politics, let alone the halls of Congress.

LA-GOV: Reading Walter Boasso (D-Arabi), Reading a Southern Republican’s Party Switch

First posted at Daily Kingfish, a Louisiana political blog started by two SSP members from Louisiana.

This election cycle could not be more frustrating and confusing, and I hope I am the only one who is already exhausted.  But at least our state Party has not stacked the deck in favor of one candidate who has a vague campaign message full of platitudes with no solutions and no unifying theme, unless an identity suspended in quotation marks, “Bobby,” constitutes a theme.  To me it appears to be a floating signifier, a mere vocalization that refers to no mental concepts and to no objects that exist in the tangible world.  Republican bloggers must be really bored with the rehashed and revisited rhetoric of 2003 with all the same tropes of Democratic corruption and all the same idle crowing about the wonderful ideas ready to spring from the intelligent mind of “Bobby,” as if he were a modern day Zeus.  How many times can a blogger type, “It is not who you know; it is what you know?”  How many times can one beg readers “not to vote for ideology but for competence?”  How many times does one have to avoid discussing the legislative record of someone who mindlessly voted for the national GOP’s disastrous policies 97% of the time?  How many times can one use the same sheet of toilet paper? 

Because Ryan has already penned a diary on Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, I will deal with the rhetoric surrounding the latest Democratic candidate to announce: Walter Boasso, former Republican but now Democratic state Senator from Arabi, St. Bernard Parish.

Louisiana politics is never boring, and this cycle will be no exception.  So the Southern Strategy is ready to enter phase 4 and swallow Louisiana once and for all.  Democrats, the LCRM claims, will lose seats or be pressured to switch parties, and “Bobby” will be rewarded with a Republican majority in the state House on the day of his coronation, a ceremony to be funded with the precious budget surplus the Republicans ostensibly want to protect.  Republican realignment, we are told, is dawning over the horizon.  But how does this square with the novelty of a Republican state Senator in a Deep South state switching to the Democratic Party?  Boasso’s move is somewhat anomalous, and if one chooses to think about this phenomenon historically, it may signal the obsolescence of the 40 year effort of the Republican Party to colonize the South.  And Boasso may be in good hands.  For on the other end of the South, we have a new Democratic US Senator in Virginia named Jim Webb, who switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party last year, when he won his Senate race by a nailbiting 7,000 votes.

So Boasso’s switch may have a broader significance lost on those who are focused on the empirical and on the partisan and not on the historical.  Do not expect LSU – Shreveport Political Science Professor Jeffery Sadow to engage in such an abstract mode of thinking, for that may require some thought and effort.  But to return to the point of this essay, will Boasso exploit it?  Will Boasso use his party switch to his advantage and to the advantage of the Louisiana Democratic Party?  Is his switch a harbinger for something much larger than himself? 

According to Boasso,

[T]oday I have rejoined the Democratic Party because [sic] I believe that running as a Democrat will give me the best opportunity to push an agenda for change and reform.  The people of Louisiana, regardless of party affiliation, are in search of a leader, and are [sic] eager to stand side by side with someone willing to challenge the establishment and reform our state.

An interesting transvaluation of Republican tropes: reform, change and leadership are now in the purview of the Democratic Party, and the values of the silent majority are to be found underneath the Democratic umbrella, not the dysfunctional, slipshod apparatus brandished by the Republicans.  And state Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington is right there in Boasso’s big tent.  Responding to a question about Boasso’s party switch, Whittington quips, “The more the merrier.”  Boasso continues:

The political deal makers have run this state for too long at the expense of so many of our people who need affordable healthcare, quality education and the opportunity to secure a good paying job.  I will not be silenced by the status quo or by those unwilling to embrace a new direction for our state.  The challenges are too large and [sic] we have no time to waste.

Now this is a powerful paragraph.  Corruption and cronyism are placed squarely on the lap of the Republican Party, as are inflexibility, the status quo and useless dilatory tactics, a coded phrase that can be translated to mean inefficient government that enjoys wasting time. 

These are the words of a fighter, and Boasso is not taking any prisoners.  This must have grated on state Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere’s nerves.  And Villere’s response?

Some politicians switch parties because of philosophy and principle. … Walter has made it clear that he is just the opposite. He’s switching because he hasn’t been successful as a Republican candidate.

This is a petty response more befitting a schoolyard bully than a Party Chairman who locked a credible candidate named Walter Boasso out of the political process.   Actually, it does befit Roger Villere, for he is a schoolyard bully.  But if Villere desires to discuss principle and philosophy, let us discuss the many southern Democrats who switched to the Republican Party during the last three decades of the twentieth century as a result of their opposition to Civil Rights legislation.  Let us discuss the southern Republican Party’s use of coded and overt racism to increase white, Republican turnout in close elections.  Let us discuss the southern Republican Party’s roots in figures such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. And let us discuss some of its more recent incarnations, George “Macaca” Allen, David Duke and LSU – Shreveport Professor Jeffrey Sadow, who claims Boasso “is even more off the reservation than Campbell.”  If Boasso is the opposite of those who adhere to racist principles and philosophies, I am more than ready to embrace his candidacy.

But notice what else Boasso mentions in this paragraph:  Boasso switched to the Democratic Party, as Boasso hopes to address the problems of healthcare, education and un(der)employment.  This is not your typical Republican menu of wedge issues with “family values,” guns and tax breaks as your main entrĂ©es and a gratuitous jab at the Landrieus as the lagniappe; this to me reads as the domestic agenda of a Democratic candidate.  Although I am still awaiting the specifics, I am impressed with what I see thus far.

Do you believe Boasso will propose a Democratic social agenda?  How many of his positions do you believe he will modify?  And how do you believe the Democratic Party should handle Boasso’s switch?  Should Chris Whittington make this into a world historical event, or should he allow Roger Villere to frame it as so much political prostitution?  And how should Boasso explain his decision to switch parties?  Should he mention President Bush’s approval ratings?  Should he mention Iraq?  Should he mention the disaster that was the 109th Congress?  Should he discuss how Jindal was one of the reasons the 109th Congress is named the “do nothing” Congress?  And should he mention Jindal’s failure to “get it done” for Louisiana? 

Feel free to quote from other news sources in the comments thread.  And be sure to read Jeffrey Sadow’s insane meditation on Boasso’s switch.  Sadow is so unglued, leather restraints cannot hold him back.