By Fr. George Welzbacher
November 16, 2008
Though Election Day has come and gone, three senatorial contests remain unresolved-in Minnesota, to be sure, and in Alaska and Georgia. But by now the statisticians have had sufficient time to interpret the election's overall results. In "The Week in Review" section of last Sunday's New York Times (November 9, 2008), an interesting analysis appeared decked out with graphs based on exit polls (and therefore subject to question), the Times report indicated that across the nation as a whole American men divided their votes almost evenly between Senator Obama and Senator McCain, with the data giving Mr. Obama a very slight edge of one percent (49 to 48), while American women went heavily for Mr. Obama, supporting him with a wide majority of 56 percent vs. the 43 percent of that vote that went to Mr. McCain. Account, however, must be taken of family status to get a clearer picture of how America's women voted: married Americans, husbands and wives, trended towards Senator McCain, with more than half of their vote (52%) cast in his favor as against 47 percent in the Obama column. By way of contrast unmarried voters, both men and women, gave nearly two thirds of their votes (65 percent) to Obama, with only 33 percent to McCain. For America's racial and ethnic minorities racial identity was an excellent predictor of how their votes would go, with 95 percent of Blacks voting for Senator Obama-an outcome for which even the most ardent McCain loyalists will display, I am sure, a measure of sympathetic understanding-while Hispanic voters, who in 2004 gave President George W. Bush 44 percent of their vote, supported Senator Obama in 2008 by more than two thirds (67 percent vs. 31 percent for McCain). The overheated rhetoric employed by certain talk-show hosts vis-a- vis immigration issues was probably an important, perhaps a decisive factor here. Among America's less sizable racial minorities nearly two thirds of Americans of Asian derivation gave their vote to Senator Obama (62 percent to 35). Senator McCain, however, won the overall backing of White voters by 55 to 43 percent, though with the significant reservation that White voters under 30 years of age went "big time" for Senator Obama.
Ethnic background produced variations in the Catholic vote. While Hispanic Catholics went heavily for Obama, America's Catholics voted as a whole 54 to 45 percent for McCain. [The British publication The Economist (Nov. 8) credits Obama with drawing 54% of the Catholic vote]. Jewish voters stayed true to their long-standing political allegiance, giving Democratic Senator Obama a whopping 78 percent of their support vs. 21 percent for Senator McCain. But Mr. McCain scored a major victory with White Protestants, chalking up 65 percent of their votes vs. 34 percent for Mr. Obama. Perhaps most surprising of all was the finding that a majority of America's wealthiest citizens-those with an annual income of more than $200,000-voted for Senator Obama, despite his announced plan to target their group for heavier taxation. (For anecdotal confirmation of that surprising fact just take a drive sometime soon along St. Paul's Summit Avenue or the Mississippi River Boulevard with their adjoining side streets, before the Obama-Biden lawn signs start coming down). The heart hath its reasons of which the mind would know naught.
Assembling an impressive coalition of Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, voters across the board under the age of thirty, a majority of the unmarried and a majority of the wealthy, with a staggering advantage in funding and with heavy support from the media, Senator Obama focused his message on two simple ideas- hope and change- and with his eloquence and calm inspired legions of volunteers to get out the vote. Even those who are appalled at his anti-life zealotry will concede that he ran a brilliant campaign. And should the radical shift in the vote in once solidly Republican Oakland County, Michigan to predominantly Democratic in the recent election be taken as a portent for the future? In the New York Times for November 11th Stanley Greenberg offered this assessment.
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Goodbye, Reagan Democrats
By: Stanley B. Greenberg
The New York Times Op-Ed Tuesday, November 11, 2008
.... Oakland County has formed part of the Republican heartland in Michigan and in the country. From 1972 to 1988, Democratic presidential candidates in their best years lost the county by 20 points. From Bill Clinton to John Kerry, however, Democrats began to settle for a draw. Over the past two decades, Oakland County began to change, as an influx of teachers, lawyers, and high-tech professionals began to outnumber the county's business owners and managers....almost a quarter of Oakland's residents are members of various racial minorities.
These changes have produced a more tolerant and culturally liberal population. uncomfortable with today's Republican Party. When we conducted our poll of 600 voters in Oakland.County on election night, they were a lot more open than voters in [next-door, blue-collar] Macomb [County] to gay marriage and affirmative action. We asked those who voted for Mr. Obama why they made their choice. At the top of the list was his promise to withdraw troops from Iraq, followed by his support for tax cuts for the middle class and affordable health care for all, and the idea that he will bring people together, end the old politics and get things done.
On Tuesday, Oakland County voters gave Mr. Obama a 57 percent to 42 percent victory over John McCain--those 15 points translated into an astonishing 96,000-vote margin. That helped form one of the most important new national changes in the electorate; Mr. Obama built up a striking dominance in the country's growing, [ever] more diverse and well-educated suburbs....
* * * * *Accompanying-the charts in last Sunday's Times was a summary written by Marjorie Connelly.lay I share it with ycu here.
* * * * *Dissecting the Changing Electorate
By Marjorie Connelly
From: The New York Times
Sunday, November 9. 2008
One way to consider Barack Obarna's success last Tuesday is to consider John McCain's failure. By virtually every electoral measure-including age, sex, race, religion - Mr. McCain lost ground won by George W. Bush four years ago.
For Mr. Obama, the opposite happened. He performed better than John Kerry did among nearly every voter group-significantly better, in some cases.
The president-elect won overwhelmingly among Blacks, Hispanics and voters under the age of 30. He made inroads among important swing groups, including Catholics, suburbanites, political independents, even veterans. He won in the Midwest, where Mr. Kerry had lost. He even made small gains among groups that typically have been solidly Republican-whites, conservatives, Southerners, regularr churchgoers.
A deep generational divide revealed itself. Voters under 45 backed Mr. Obama; those 60 and over supported Mr. McCain. The rest were divided.
The results also suggest that a significant political realignment may be at hand. The gap between voters who identified themselves either as Democrats or Republicans grew by 7 percentage points, giving Democrats their largest advantage since 1980.
This portrait of the 2008 election is drawn from the results of Election Day exit interviews by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International with 17,836 voters at 300 polling places around the nation, and of 2,378 telephone interviews with absentee and early voters.
Here are some of the details:
Voters under 30 backed Mr. Obama over Mr. McCain by 34 percentage points. Only Ronald Reagan in 1984 and Bill Clinton in 1992, each with 19-point advantages among these voters, came close, if it can be called that.
Older voters were the only age group to give Mr. McCain a majority. They supported Mr. Reagan in 1984 but switched to the Democrats during the Clinton years. Four years ago, they were President Bush's strongest age group.
Blacks gave Mr. Obama 95 percent of their votes, a record. Mr. Obama also won back gains with Hispanic voters made by Mr. Bush. White voters continued to back the Republican candidate. The exception was whites under 30. They backed Mr. Obama after votingfor Mr. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
Whites made up 74 percent of voters, the lowest share ever in a nationwide presidential exit poll. Blacks were 13 percent of voters, their largest share ever, but only a slight increase.
Four years ago, Republicans and Democrats each represented 37 percent of the electorate. This year, 39 percent of voters said they were Democrats; 32 percent identified themselves as Republicans.
Mr. Obama won a majority of independents, the first time a Democrat has done so since exit polls began in 1972.
Mr. McCain won strong support among voters who said their family's finances were better than four years ago. Mr. Obarna won among those whose financial situation had deteriorated.
Voters with lower incomes typically vote Democratic, and they did again this year. Mr. Obama won 60 percent of voters with annual household incomes under, $50,000. Mr. Obama was also backed by a majority of those making over $200,000 a remarkable turn for a Democrat. Four years ago, Mr. Bush's strongest showing was among wealthy voters.
City dwellers sided with Mr. Obama. Voters in small towns and rural areas preferred Mr. McCain. Suburban voters were closely split. A majority of suburban women voted for Mr. Obama; most surburban men backed Mr. McCain.
Mr. Obama won majorities in the Northeast, Midwest and West. Mr. McCain won in the South, which Republicans have won since 2000.