Thursday, February 28, 2008

Coal Country: Molly Maguires Sympathy Never Spiked Labor's Vote

Republicans are talking up pickup possibilities in PA11, which would be quite a coup given the Dems' long hold on the seat and the bleak outlook for the House GOP this fall.

More on this race to come, but when researching this CD, the Almanac of American Politics' noted that this Pennsylvania Coal Region's "honest jobs with long hours, modest pay, poor working conditions and high death rates" are "facts of life that made the violently pro-union Molly Maguires popular here." Wikipedia's (albeit never quite authoritative) entry on the "Mollies" includes a map (above) of Coal Region counties, noting their influence here.

PA11 doesn't quite overlap with these five counties - Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia, Schuylkill, Carbon, and Northumberland - but it takes in parts or all of three of these counties (Shuylkill falls in PA11 and Northumberland in PA17).

Curiously, for a region with a tradition of sometimes violent labor unrest, none of these counties have returned a notable left wing vote. Only in Northumberland did Eugene Debs' crack double digits and push incumbent Republican president Wm. Howard Taft into fourth place in 1912, his Socialist Party's banner year. And that year, Teddy Roosevelt failed to carry the whole region even as when he captured the Keystone State's electoral votes. Only in Luzerne did LaFollette outperform his statewide average in '24. Luzerne and Luckawanna were two rare mid-Penn. counties to go vote Dem in 2004, and generally have Democratic traditions, but the other three have voted GOP for the most part, excepting '64 and FDR's reign, though Columbia voted Dem during around the turn of the century.

For a socially conservative, labor-heavy white working class region, George Wallace's populist appeal fell flat in Coal Region in '68, with just around 5% in this area, unlike the Philly and Pittsburgh areas where he racked up more impressive numbers in similar prectincts.

More evidence of the region's social conservatism and the apparent ability of the coal companies to suppress labor's electoral success here: the Prohibition Party outvoted the various Socialist and labor parties in Coal Region during their 1890's and 1900's heyday.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"West Texas (No data*)" but Still in Play

UPDATE on our "West Texas (No data*)" post.

Here's an indication of just how close the battle for every available delegate has become in the Dem presidential nomination contest:

Even though the WaPo/ABC News polls couldn't rustle up enough respondents for its "West Texas" region to make up a statistically significant sample size, that state's byzantine delegate allocation - by state Senate district and Dem performance - apportions a few, valuable delegates up for grabs there. Bill Clinton ventured up to Amarillo to woo the few Dems there.

Texas's few historically Republican counties won't be found here. (They're the German settled cluster in Hill Country, near Austin.) And the region has a history of Democratic congressmen, up to the 1990's, so we'll see if some folks who still consider themselves "Yellow Dog" Democrats - though have rarely voted that way for years - will still turn out for HRC.

Huckabee's Helper

Update: How Huckabee Happened in the 'Hood.

WaPo profiles Huckabee's secret weapon in the DC primary: Brian Summers, a dogged campaign worker from Ward 5 who took Huckabee's message of social conservatism and economic populism to churches and bible study groups, targeting Wards 7 & 8, "in Southeast Washington, where he hoped to strike a chord with black Republicans who are Christians and who he thought could identify with Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister."

Updated results, counting absentees and special voters, continue to prove that Summers' shoe leather campaign bore fruit. Huckabee's margin over McCain slipped by one to 35-37 in Ward 8, but he picked up two in Ward 7, spreading his margin out to 61-58.

William F. Buckley R.I.P.

William F. Buckley, the father of modern American conservatism, passed away today. The New York Times' obituary is here. While Buckley is best known for his founding of the National Review and his prolific writings that managed to unify American conservatism into a core set of ideas, what is also of great interest to us at this site is his 1965 candidacy for the mayorality of New York. The Times has a remembrance of that race here.

In the '65 race, Buckley entered the contest as the voice of what he believed to be authentic conservatism and also disenchantment. Running against liberal Republican (and eventual winner) John Lindsay and Democrat Abe Beam, Buckley tapped into the frustrations of many New Yorkers (white, ethnic, outer boroughs) with the urban decline of the city. As the failures of the war on poverty and 60's liberalism were being realized in the urban context, Buckley gave voice to those who felt left behind by this social experiment. I've always felt that Buckley's candidacy must be viewed as an important stopping off point for many urban, white ethnic Democrats who eventually ended up being "Reagan Democrats." Starting with Goldwater, through Buckley, George Wallace, and finally Reagan, you can trace this realignment of a large segment of the American electorate. While Buckley never won office, he provided the ideas and the forum for the movement.

In the next few days, John and I will attempt to unearth some data from that '65 race to highlight what was going on, though not fully appreciated, at the time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lone Star Preview

Today's New York Times has a nice overview of the complicated geography, demography, and delegate math in next week's Texas primary. Also, a nice graphic to go with it.

One of the best blogs on Texas politics provides a look today of early voting results (in terms of turnout) so far. The numbers clearly suggest a much larger electorate than in previous Texas contests, mirroring what we've been seeing across the country. He also provides an excellent discussion of the allocation and distribution of delegates for the Democratic race.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Katrina Diaspora--A Boon to Obama??

Today's Washington Post has an article about the displaced population of New Orleans, much of which relocated to Texas. The question this article raises, and which is almost impossible to answer now given the lack of available data, is how the several hundred thousand new Texans will affect next week's Texas primary. At first glance this would seem to bode well for Obama given the demographics of this population--overwhelmingly African American. Nonetheless, until we get some hard numbers next week we won't know for sure. Even then, we'll have to do some pretty intense number crunching, I would think, to conclude anything definitively. Anyhow, it will be worth watching Houston and Dallas returns especially.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"West Texas (No data*)"

"* Sample size in West Texas too small to report."

There's a gaping blank hole in WaPo's graphic mapping out the regional breakdown of the Obama vs. HRC Lone Star rumble. Data is from it's latest WaPo/ABC News poll.

Here's why:
That "windswept" region that reaches from the Panhandle down into hardscrabble Texas oil country is almost as sparsely populated as it is heavily Republican. (Note how the counties that tend to be lighter orange - tiny populations - are also the deepest shades of blue - going for Bush in 2004 upwards of 90%+.)

The graphic's "West Texas" limns the borders of Texas' CDs 11, 13, 19 and 21, home to four GOP incumbents who often fail to draw strong Dem opposition, if any at all.

WaPo's "West Texas" is not all ghost towns and ranching crossroads, however. Sizable small cities like San Anglo, Odessa, Midland, Lubbock and Amarillo anchor the region that promises to shore up the GOP's base as Dems become increasingly competitive statewide based on growth in the Austin, Houston and DFW metro areas and among an ever growing Hispanic electorate.

WI 08: Going Blue?

Over the past few election cycles, Wisconsin's 8th congressional district has been getting more competitive. For decades a Republican stronghhold, in 2006 the 8th elected Democrat Steve Kagen to the House. The previous incumbent, Mark Green, vacated the seat to run unsuccessfully for governor. In the process, he underperformed quite dramatically in his home district. This got me thinking about whether or not the 8th was changing. I must admit that traveling to the area several times per year (I grew up in the neighboring 6th), I haven't noticed any striking change. Nonetheless, the numbers don't lie. The 8th is anchored by two of Wisconsin's larger cities, Green Bay (Brown County) and Appleton (Outagamie County). I've plotted the Democrats' performance over the past four most competitive statewide elections: 2006 governor, 2004 president, 2002 governor, and 200 president. The county is on the x axis and the Democratic percentage of the vote is on the y axis. Note the extremely high Democratic performance in Menominee County. This is in fact on of Wisconsin's Indian reservations so it acts as an outlier.

I should note that I had to do a bit of number massaging to allow me to plot Democratic performance. In the 2002 Wisconsin governor's race, independent Ed Thompson (brother of former governor Tommy Thompson) ran as an independent and performed quite well, largely along Libertarian lines. I decided to divide up his vote between the Democratic candidate (Attorney General Jim Doyle) and the Republican (Governor Scott McCallum) to allow for some comparison between the two major candidates aside from a calculation of the two party vote that would have excluded Thompson. Given Thompson's lineage and platform I decided to award McCallum 2/3 of the Thompson vote and Doyle the remaining 1/3. I had a similar dilemma for the 2000 presidential race and the Nader vote. Here I awarded Gore the entire Nader vote on the assumption that he would have received these votes without Nader in the race.

What we see is that over the 2000-2006 timeframe Democrats have indeed improved their performance with the exception of a downtick with Kerry in 2004. This is especially notable in Outagamie County but is seen clearly across the entirety of the 8th district. This would seem to bode extremely well as Congressman Kagen seeks to be the first Democrat re-elected in this district in thirty years. The data from the 2008 Wisconsin presidential primary would seem to add more creedence to this tentative conclusion. While we obviously can't directly compare the Democratic and Republican primaries given how relatively settled the Republican race is, the turnout disparities between the parties is nonetheless worth paying attention to. Turnout in the Democratic race was over two times the Repubican (133,940 vs. 57,303). On the Democratic side Obama beat Clinton 56%-44% which was slightly below his statewide total of 58%. On the Republican side, McCain beat Huckabee 56%-44% which essentially mirrored his statwide total of 55%.

Friday, February 22, 2008

AZ 01 Showdown: Flagstaff vs. Prescott

This CD was famously drawn by Arizona’s nonpartisan redistricting commission to give rural Arizona a voice in a rapidly suburbanizing state. Today, DOJ announced a widely expected indictment against the incumbent, Rep. Rick Renzi (R). As Renzi’s legal woes mounted, he abandoned reelection plans. This cycle, the Cook Political Report lists this race as a “toss up.”

In 2006, to my surprise, neither Cook, CQ nor National Journal would rate this CD any more competitive than “Likely Republican,” and only in the last weeks, despite a very narrow Cook Partisan Voting Index of a mere R+2, demographic shifts and voting trends that pointed to increased Democratic competitiveness, not to mention the first reports of scandal dogging the incumbent.

Part of the assumption of Renzi’s invulnerability rested on his assiduous work on behalf American Indian issues in a CD that is 22% Indian and his history of over performing in heavily Democratic and Indian Navajo and Apache counties. But, significant increases in turnout in those two counties from 2000 to 2004 signaled that many newer Democratic voters might not be familiar enough with Renzi to cross party lines.

Perhaps the most telling indicator was how preposterous it was for Renzi to bill himself as “a hometown, Flagstaff boy” - based on his captaining Northern Arizona University’s football team years before he returned to run for Congress - in a city that grows farther away from Renzi’s social conservatism, the more it grows in population. Coconino County’s new residents turn it redder every cycle.

Also growing is the more reliably Republican Yavapai County, where Renzi racked up his largest vote totals. The Almanac of American Politics notes “Barry Goldwater always began his Arizona campaigns” in historic downtown Prescott - Yavapai’s county seat - and it still retains a Republican base, but one that is eroding slightly as its streets start to resemble those of Flagstaff, whose once seedy "Whiskey Row" is now dotted with art galleries and B&B's.

Throw in a growing Hispanic population and Sedona - Arizona’s “little Sante Fe” - and the AZ01’s Republican base of the Phoenix most remote exurbs, ranching crossroads and dying mining towns - the latter, hotbeds for Eugene Debs a century ago, but heavily Republican in last half century - is diminishing. Take away Renzi’s strength among Indian Democrats, and you have 2008's "tossup."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

If Wisconsin Presages Ohio, Will Appleton Presage Lima?

Like similar sized “Rust Belt” cities, Lima, Ohio has seen a post-war economic boom followed by a period of industrial decline and sporadic racial violence. However, unlike many of those organized labor-heavy cities, Lima has remained rock ribbed Republican. Allen County - Lima hosts the county's seat - even stuck with Goldwater in ‘64, one of only five Ohio counties to do so that year, and wavered in its fealty to the GOP only narrowly in FDR’s Depression era landslides of ’32 and ’36. In this regard, the heavily Republican and 1920's KKK redoubt of Lima has been closer, electorally and geographically, to Richmond, Indiana than Flint, Michigan.

Given that history, it’s curious that last Sunday’s Washington Post chose Lima to feature as reporter Ricky Carioti investigated whether Hillary Clinton can hold onto her waning majorities among white working class voters as the primary season progresses, and if Obama can excite a previously politically sedate Afro-Am minority. (The Post noted that Democratic Governor Ted Strickland did carry Lima in ’06 and Kerry picked up very slightly in Allen County over Gore’s performance four years earlier.)

Pundits are poring over Wisconsin’s primary results for clues as to how Ohio might vote on March 4. Lima’s demographics and electoral history resemble that of Appleton, Wisconsin. Indeed, the cities of both Lima and Appleton split nearly evenly between Bush and Kerry, while the surrounding counties of Allen and Outagamie, Wisconsin returned healthier Bush margins. In Appleton, Obama replicated his statewide margin, but Huckabee nips at McCain’s heels in many wards.

Stay tuned to this post for an update after Ohio votes to see if Lima shows evidence of further Obama gains among white working class voters and if Huckabee can post a respectable conservative base protest vote again here.

Who Knew? Huckabee's All Good in da 'hood

As Prof. Murray noted, while McCain swept DC's GOP presidential primary, Huckabee fought him to a draw among the few voters who turned out in heavily Afro-Am precincts. East of the Anacostia River, Huckabee bested McCain by one vote 58-57 in Ward 7 and lost Ward 8 by a 35-36 - votes, not percentage points, mind you (this, despite "Former Mayor for Life" and incumbent Ward 8 DC Council Member Marion Barry's tongue in cheek endorsement on MSNBC's "Tucker.")

More evidence of strong Huckabee performance among black Republican primary voters can be found on a map of the Republican primary in Milwaukee city. Prof. Murray breaks down Milwaukee ward demographics at this post.

This trend is further confirmed in heavily black precincts in majority African-American Prince George's County, Maryland, where Huckabee captured District Heights and Bladensburg and nearly tied McCain in Oxon Hill. Also of note: Alan Keyes, a two time GOP Senate nominee in the Free State, waging a half-hearted campaign this cycle, made it a three way race in Seat Pleasant and Capitol Heights.

Badger State Primary IV--The College Vote

Here is a map of the University of Wisconsin system. Its is made up of 13 four year universities and 13 two year campuses. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a story today about the extremely high college turnout in Tuesday's primary and the gigantic victory that Obama got among these voters. The story is based on a study done by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Of the 26 schools in the system, Obama won in all of their home counties except two (Douglas--UW Superior, and Marinette--UW Marinette). While Obama's attractiveness to college students has been written about extensively, its nice to finally be able to put some flesh on this assertion. It should also be noted that this rise in turnout can also have repurcussions beyond the presidential race. As I wrote about in one of the first posts on this blog back in 2006, increased turnout on UW campuses as a result of Wisconsin's gay marriage proposal was credited, in part, with switching control of the Wisconsin state Senate to the Democrats. The change in party control was brought about by winning two seats in the western part of the state.

Badger State Primary III

From today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a nice breakdown of the statewide turnout and how each of the candidates fared in some of the major counties. The biggest take from the story is the massive turnout disparity between the Democratic and Republican primaries. While having the Republican race somewhat more decided was certainly a factor, its clear that despite this there is an "enthusiasm gap" between voters for both parties now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Badger State Primary II

Here's a map of the Democratic vote in the city of Milwaukee. Obama, as would be expected, cleaned up in the central, north, and northwest parts of the city. This is the part of Milwaukee with the largest concentration of African American voters. On the south side, which is overwhelmingly white and working class, he did less well, with Clinton winning a few aldermanic districts.

Badger State Primary I

I'm going to be doing a number of posts on the Wisconsin primary as the numbers come in and more maps are available. Obviously, a big win for Obama. Looking at the county by county results map and returns one sees how widespread his win was. Of the 72 Wisconsin counties, he only lost 10. There wasn't really a concentration of weakness other than the fact that these were overwhelmingly rural counties with a significant elderly population--the one demographic that he is still not performing well with. His big source of strength, as one would expect, was in Milwaukee and Dane counties. Also, though, as the exit polling is suggesting, Obama cut significantly into Clinton's support among working class and union voters. If you look at the counties where one finds significant numbers of these types of Democratic voters--Brown, Kenosha, Rock, Racine, Sheboygan, one sees that Obama won all of these.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Virginia Democrats County Maps

Here we see the county by county results for Virginia's Democratic primary. Obama counties are in green, Clinton in red. To get a better sense of the magnitude of Obama's victory, though, this map (courtesy of Larry Sabato) is perhaps more useful, scaled by population.

Fairfax county is the epicenter of northern Virginia's growth over the past few decades and the driver of Virginia's increasing tilt towards the Democrats. It is also here that Obama gathered the largest part of his statewide total.

Looking Ahead to Texas

I'll be doing a lot of analysis on today's Wisconsin primary as the results come in. Before that, though, some information on Texas' allocation of delegates. Its not done simply via proportional vote at the congressional district level. Rather, its a dual proportional (via State Senate district) and caucus allocation. Fun stuff.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Who Are the Superdelegates???

A list of the Democrats' Superdelegates.

DC Ward by Ward Results

Here are the ward by ward results for yesterday's DC primary. On the Republican side, Huckabee did best in the wards with the highest African American population.

Update: Here's a precinct by precinct map (via Google Earth) of the Democratic race in DC. Obama won every precinct, and most by a huge margin.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Badger State Primary

I'll have a lot to write about Wisconsin following the primary next Tuesday. One thing I noticed today speaks to Obama's willingness and desire to court independents and Republicans. Wisconsin is an open primary so there's obviously an incentive in bringing these voters on board. When looking at his upcoming schedule, one sees a rally scheduled in Waukesha. Waukesha is probably the most Republican city of any size you will find in the state. In fact, Waukesha county is the second most Republican county in the state if you look at voting returns over the past several cycles (2000, 2004). His events in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, and Janesville make perfect sense, given the population size and political leanings, but the Waukesha event really jumped out at me.

With evidence pointing to a Clinton focus on Texas and Ohio (to the detriment of Wisconsin), Obama looks poised to pick up my home state.

Maine Caucus Results

A nice map showing the breakdown of the Obama victory in Maine.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Super Tuesday County Level Results

For Democrats and Republicans.

Lots of analysis to come.