Monday, April 29, 2013

America, Election 2012: For The First Time, Blacks Voted At A Higher Rate Than Whites... But It's Not That Simple

Here's Hope Yen of AP at TPM:
WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

This has been coming for a long time. No doubt having a Black at the top of the Democratic ticket brought out a lot more Black voters than in earlier presidential election years, and it's not clear to me whether this is repeatable, but it has now happened once, and an African American has now been elected president twice.

Why do I doubt the reproducibility of the result? because Blacks constitute only 13.1 percent of America's population. If that figure is believable, that's a steep hill to climb. Unless another African American heads the Democratic ticket (or the Republican ticket? gimme a break...) in 2016, this level of turnout seems unlikely to me.

But that African American at the head of the ticket is actually a person of mixed race. Growing numbers of Americans are of mixed race. Some of those are emphatic in their desire not to be pigeonholed in one race. Even those who are not may identify variously among individuals of the same mixture. A friend of mine, filling out a form, was confronted with a checkbox labeled "Person with Hispanic surname." WTF? Her surname is as Anglo as my own, her ethnicity is indisputably Hispanic, her parents are Colombian by birth, and her citizenship is American by birth. At some point, the whole classification scheme itself becomes a vehicle for misrepresentation of ethnicity.

State governments may nonetheless be in for some real changes. Texas, for example, has been "majority minority" (I do hate that phrase, but it's the standard term now) for some years, and if federal courts including the Supremes are ever of a composition to reverse the rampant gerrymander that Republicans in power here have perpetrated over at least the last two decades, we Texans may lose our status as the laughingstock of the nation.

Old white guys like me (actually, old white guys NOT like me) might want to start adjusting their mindsets right now...

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