Sunday, November 09, 2008

Contemplating the Unchanged

It's always nice to start Sunday with a sermon from Fr. Frank of the First Church of Media Populism. That didn't come out quite right, but I mean it as a complement. Every Sunday morning Frank Rich flays patronizing media groupthink about the doltish American public, which of course is often doltish but which cannot be assumed to fall for every stupid trick that Republican campaign managers - themselves no geniuses - can invent. He's good on the class bias - the white upper-middle class big media view that has swallowed market economics whole (my beef) while anxiously overestimating the power of the public to be duped just as easily as they were by the same right-wing ideas.

Father's close is especially nice - hmm, forget it, I won't spoil the ending by pulling it out of context. Read the piece and the good Obama quote at the end.

Father misreads some of his stats, however, to make the point that we the people shattered two assumptions: that whites won't vote for a black president, and that the culture wars are over. The latter cannot be shown by saying as Father does that "only" gay marriage was crushed by culture warriors. More on this later.

As for the first point, exit polls show no improvement (outside of a margin of error) in the white vote for the Democratic candidate. Father Frank uses the National Journal poll, and if you play around with the menus you can see the sad flatline of white male support for Dems - from the previous high of 38% (Clinton 1996) to Obama's 41%. That's within a margin of error. Look at "White Men Attending Church Weekly" - an unvarying 3:1 Republican margin. The only solid Dem improvement with white men was in the 18-29 age group.

When you look at whites overall - same story. Every grouping of whites aged 30 and over went at least 55% for McCain. Among voters 65 and over, the Dems do worse every time, this one included.

And check out the impact of religion. If you declare an affiliation, even if you don't attend church regularly there's a 60% chance the Republicans own your vote.

And white women? If you break out single college-educated white women, you can see a strongly Dem group that has gotten more Democratic over time. But white women overall voted slightly more strongly for Gore and Clinton '96 than for Obama.

I just hope that marriage, when it eventually comes to them, doesn't turn the gay vote as Republican as it does the straight vote.

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