Sunday, November 4, 2012

TPM, Daily Kos, Brad DeLong, etc.: Chill out about Politico

Everybody is very riled up about this Politico article.

I think they're reading their worst fears into it. I'm really not getting "only white males matter" from it.

My read of it is that Obama is the popular choice in the sub-groups that we usually consider liberal. The rest of that section of the article goes on and on about how Obama will be beholden to liberals, after all. The thing about independents and whites that's different from single women, educated whites, blacks, and Hispanics is that we think of the former as being more ideologically diverse than the latter. Is this true? I don't know, ask a public opinion poller. But the point of that section of the article is that on the understanding that it's true Obama has a liberal mandate, not an ideologically broad mandate.

As a centrist white male that seems to like Obama a lot more than a lot of my liberal friends, this seems overblown. But overblown or not, I can't see how it's a claim that white votes matter more.

In fact, if you read the article and not just the section everyone is quoting, the author goes on at length about how stupid Romney and recent Republicans have been to only court the suburban white male vote (so clearly they see value in those non-white, non-male votes!).

I don't like everything I read by Mike Allen, but if you think you've read him say that non-whites are 3/5ths of a person, it's probably worth giving it a second read.

Of course he's right that we're worried about whether Obama has a broad mandate. It looks plausible that he might win the electoral college but lose the popular vote. That's what a weak mandate is. Obama is very likely to have a weak mandate and it's going to be because he does well with traditionally liberal groups and less well than he could have with groups that aren't traditionally liberal. I don't like it. I think it has more to do with Republican demagoguery than anything Obama has done wrong. But those are the facts.


  1. What would make it a weak mandate would be a relatively low proportion of the vote.

    Conditional on that headline proportion, that a relatively low proportion of the vote comes from less-educated white males is neither here nor there.

    But the natural way to read VandeHei and Allen is that the fact that a relatively low proportion of the vote comes from less-educated white males is an additional factor over and above the headline number diminishing the authority of the mandate.

    That's simply wrong.

    If you want to, you can force an unnatural reading on Allen and VandeHei.

    But much better if they were to use the "strike" tag on their article...

    Brad DeLong

    1. Not sure I follow. It's precisely the relatively low proportion of the vote that makes it a weak mandate.

      So why does he have a relatively low portion of the vote?

      Because he's done well with the listed sub-groups but not as well with white males and independents.

      You and I are diamonds in the rough. Not all our white male non-partisans are as pro-Obama (although I guess we'd fall into that hoity-toidy educated whites category).

      I think the natural way to read them is that performance among white males is WHY Obama has a low proportion of the vote - particularly in light of the rest of the article where they criticize Romney for catering to white males. If there was some special value to it, why would they criticize Romney for such a strategy.

  2. Like Brad and Daniel I am an educated white (northern European) male.

    The statement that relatively lower percentage support among white men would somehow diminish Obama's mandate is offensive. Would anyone say such a thing about a Republican President who won the election with relatively lower support among blacks, women or hispanics?

    1. Yes.

      That was why everyone said Bush didn't have a strong mandate - he lost the popular vote, and he lost it (in part, of course) because of unpopularity among exactly those groups. Hence the comparison between how Obama was doing among whites and how Bush was doing among Hispanics in the article.

      So, yes, we say things like that.

    2. There is a difference between saying he does not have a strong mandate because he lost the popular vote and saying he does not have a strong mandate because he lost the popular vote among white men (even if he won the overall popular vote).

      The other attack on Bush's mandate flowed from the whole hanging chad thing.

    3. OK, we'll all plug our ears and close our eyes and pretend we don't know why Democrats lose popular votes and call that "not being racist".

      I am having trouble taking this very seriously, Absalon.

      Attributing everything to racism cheapens the claim. Do you seriously think that was the subconscious motivation of the article? Did you read the article? Did you read them pummeling Romney for focusing so much on the white male vote?

  3. I would note that if you look at non-Hispanic White Likely Voters:

    NE: 51-41
    MW: 42-51
    WE: 45-48
    SO: 27-66

    you see that as far as the South is concerned, the past is not dead, the past is not even past.

    1. Yes, as white male Southerner I am truly a diamond in the rough!


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