March 16, 2008

Race and the race

The New York Times Magazine has an article by Matt Bai on race and the race:

The assumption has always been that a black candidate should perform worse among white voters in states with less racial diversity because those voters are supposedly less enlightened. In fact, the reverse has been true for Obama: in the overwhelmingly white states of Wisconsin and Vermont, for instance, he carried 54 and 60 percent of the white voters respectively, according to exit polls, while in New Jersey he won 31 percent and in Tennessee he won 26 percent. As some bloggers have shrewdly pointed out, Obama does best in areas that have either a large concentration of African-American voters or hardly any at all, but he struggles in places where the population is decidedly mixed.

What this suggests, perhaps, is that living in close proximity to other races — sharing industries and schools and sports arenas — actually makes Americans less sanguine about racial harmony rather than more so.

Half Sigma responds:

Steve Sailer was the first shrewd blogger that I know of to point this out.

Perhaps, although I think it's more likely that one or more of my commenters and emailers, or some of the bloggers I regularly read suggested the idea to me first. Here, for example, is Audacious Epigone's statistical analysis of this question from Feb. 6, 2008.

Collectively, however, the NYT's designation of us as "shrewd" is something I think we can live with.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

I never thought I'd say this, but I have great respect for Geraldine Ferraro. She deserves some sort of prize.

Anonymous said...

This brings to mind Robert Putnam's research: "Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

I'm in bucolic Vermont. We're trusting, idealistic, brimming with confidence that collective action can solve all dilemmas ...without ethnic diversity, without having to confront racial conflicts on an individiual basis, our idealism is a luxury we can afford.

In states where communities are less trusting of their neighbors and community leaders, voters are probably more apt to pull the lever for a candidate who wears her negatives on her sleeves than a young handsome upstart they can't quite pin down.

Anonymous said...

Well gee. So if you actually have significant real life experience with Blacks, and I mean in all facets, you're less likely to e.g. want to live near large concentrations of them or vote for one for President? Hey, do you think maybe this is why opposition to busing was so fierce?

Good thing I read a lot or I wouldn't know things like this.

Anonymous said...

There are "hardly any" blacks in Wisconsin. Milwaukee is 40% black. Racine is 20% black. There are thousands of blacks in Madison, Kenosha, and even Green Bay and Oshkosh.

Anonymous said...

While all of this might possibly be true, the fact that all but three of Obama's "white" wins were in caucuses makes that very unlikely.

He lost the white Democrat vote in Wisconsin; it was only the 1 in 3 presence of independents/Republicans that put him over the top. Leaving aside Illinois, he's only won the "white" states where the Dem party is dominated by liberals.

I'd wait to see how he does in a non-caucus primary in South Dakota or Montana, and then see how liberal the voters profile before drawing any conclusions.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer: Perhaps, although I think it's more likely that one or more of my commenters and emailers, or some of the bloggers I regularly read suggested the idea to me first.

Well, as you pointed out in your January 15, 2007 AmConMag piece, from a purely statistical point of view [i.e. from the point of view of someone who went beyond the anecdotal observation which we all understand to be more or less tautologically obvious, and actually went out and surveyed people and compiled their answers to questionnaires], at least some of the credit has go to a certain Robert Putnam indiscretion which dates all the way back to March 1, 2001.

Anonymous said...

You should at least make reference to Robert Putnam's Diversity Study

Anonymous said...

This is hardly surprising. In 1994 Roy Beck, now of NumbersUSA, wrote an article in the "Atlantic Monthly" about the huge Hmong resettlement in Wausau, WI. In it he says:

"It is noteworthy, however, that when natives told me longingly of a lost "home," most seemed to refer not to the Wausau of 1978, before the refugee influx, but to the Wausau of 1984, when the influx was at a level that still constituted a delightful spice and community relations were harmonious."

The entire article as reprinted by VDare is here:

Anonymous said...

Has Obama actually spelled out how he wants to alter the U.S. immigration rules? A lot of blacks think that the visa rules discriminate against Africans, so does Obama want to increase the number of visas for Africans in general, or for Kenyans in particular?

I don't think enough people have stopped to consider the implications of the fact that Obama's father is a FOREIGNER and that Obama undoubtedly has a slew of extended family members in Kenya who would like to move to the USA.

Other than the early presidents, who were born as British citizens, or as the sons of former British citizens, which other presidents were the sons of foreigners?

Anonymous said...

The assumption has always been that a black candidate should perform worse among white voters in states with less racial diversity because those voters are supposedly less enlightened.

Among whom has this "always been" the assumption? Certainly not among us shrewd Steve fans - or anyone else living outside the bubble of the professional and intellectual upper middle class who spent a moment thinking realistically about race and class.

Presumably, this trend can be elucidated even further by reviewing results by county and race. Obama won Wisconsin, but how well did he do among whites in Milwaukee County?

One should also consider the influence of class, where HRC's popularity among working-class men is perplexing to me. (I get why WC women like her, since they potentially see her as a sister who has suffered at the hands of her man.) Why do they prefer the feminist harridan to the nice black guy? The two candidates are virtually identical on the issues. Do they find HRC's arguments more convincing, or do they find BHO to be too much of a yuppie? Or do they just not want to vote for a black?

I await with interest the county-by-county results in Pennsylvania, a state with a particularly diverse stew of white voters. Obama can expect to do best in Philly, obviously, where the white working class is outnumbered by the combined black and "Starbucks liberal" votes. But what about the suburbs? And the rural parts of the state that are overwhelmingly white (like 97-99% percent - these are some of the whitest parts of America), but also generally working class? The results there will test the theory that Obama does well in mostly white areas.

Anonymous said...

Obama’s preferred response to this episode is to say he condemns the offensive statements without saying what he condemns, why he condemns them, and what he believes that is different. In particular, Obama never reconciles his racial healing generalities with the resentment-driven dogmas of black nationalism. He chose this nationalism by choosing this church, even though there are plenty of other left-leaning, mixed raced congregations in the well integrated Hyde Park neighborhood. Even if Obama can escape a major political cost by comparing his reverend to a “lovable old coot of an uncle who sometimes says offensive things,” we have to ask which parts of his schtick does Obama like? (After all, Protestant people switch churches all the time, and preachers, unlike uncles, are not blood relations.)

Did he join this church for cynical self-interested reasons because it was the way to get ahead in South Chicago black politics? Did his angry harpy of a wife drag him there? Did he feel obliged as a mulatto whose loyalties may be questioned to plant himself firmly in the black community through a black nationalist church membership, even though this meant hearing hateful characterizations of his white mother and white family members? Or did he endorse this radical view in his youth when his identity was less certain, only to reject large portions of this extremism later in life? And, if so, what aspects of the black nationalist program does he reject and what does he still accept? For someone running as a racial healer emphasizing a positive agenda of hope and national solidarity, there is simply no way easily to reconcile his choice of church and preacher with his broader political message.

Unknown said...

This is pretty shrewd, for TNR:

(The comments are laughable; they just prove what a dream world most Dimocrats are living in. Not that most Republicans are better.)

Crowley's observation about the hate that middle-class blacks have towards America is spot-on. I grew up with lots of blacks. They were mostly reasonable bright and fairly solid. I imagine they are taxpaying citizens. And they all hated white people (in general) and the US. I'm sure most of them would think Wright is alright. Just like Obama and Michelle.

And by the way, I do think that 9/11 was to a degree blowback. But saying that the US deserved it is another thing entirely.

Anonymous said...

The assumption has always been that a black candidate should perform worse among white voters in states with less racial diversity because those voters are supposedly less enlightened.

What planet is this guy on? I've never heard anyone on this planet making this assumption.

Anonymous said...

... Which implies a sort of cyclical nature to tolerance. Homogenous, peaceful, affluent areas like Vermont and Sweden think diversity is A-OK (or perhaps absolutely necessary for freedom, justice, and the sun rising every morning). They get a taste of actual diversity and start thinking differently. They stop promoting diversity to let their tolerance catch it's breath....

But, really they don't ever stop promoting diversity. It's too easy to say that any end to pro-diversity intervention is the same thing as the start of anti-diversity intervention. People will probably go on promoting diversity in order to escape leftist condemnation; diversity will increase; trust will decrease. And we'll enviously wonder how so much wealth and freedom could have been created in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Anonymous said...

"Shrewd" is only vaguely menacing, at least opposed to "evil racist". Is it possible that your insight will cause you to become sufficiently respected that the genuine racists among your commentators will have no choice but to go over to stormfront?

eternally anonymous

Anonymous said...

9/11 blowback? After Clinton bombed Christian Serbia to save Muslim lives in Kosovo? Or liberated Muslim Kuwait?

Anonymous said...

The last president with a foreign parent was Woodrow Wilson. His mother was born in England.

Somehow I doubt we'd have been dragged into World War I if Wilson's mother were Irish.


Audacious Epigone said...

Relatedly, the way that Wright's sermons from four years ago have suddenly become late-breaking news, when Steve did virtually all the legwork on your own an entire year ago, is maddeningly frustrating.

I suspect he won't even get as much as a "shrewd blogger" reference at any point during the 'fallout' that follows. See, Brian Ross bravely (recklessly!) dug it up, proving that the major media weren't, by-and-large, behind Obama.

It's amazing what some people can accomplish when they don't care who gets the credit. Thanks for your indefatigable work, Steve!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard anyone on this planet making this assumption.

He's transposing liberal cant ("racism correlates with (whiteness and) distance from the other").

Anonymous said...

"The assumption has always been that a black candidate should perform worse among white voters in states with less racial diversity because those voters are supposedly less enlightened."

This is patently absurd. The states with the greatest white/black ethnic diversity are the southern states - you know, where whites are evil, inbred, banjo-picking, white-sheet wearing rednecks. And no northeastern liberals ever expected them to vote for a black man.

The fact is that, in such states, the residents have abundant examples of black-led government: Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans, Memphis. Perhaps that makes them less sanguine about race relations.

I don't know why people in Wisconsin haven't drawn similar conclusions about Milwaukee, although here's one theory: When you drive on I-40, or I-65, or I-75, you actually have to drive THROUGH Memphis, Birmingham, or Atlanta, respectfully. However, the interstate in Milwaukee mostly goes around the city. Out of sight, out of mind.