At the Boston Globe, Scott Helman writes,

They are younger, more diverse, and less rigid in their party loyalty. More of them are women. And they are coming out in droves.

The voters who are shaping the Democratic primary race form a very different electorate than the one that awarded Senator John F. Kerry the party’s nomination in 2004. But while it is evident that voters this year are changing the face of the Democratic Party, the beneficiary of their influence is difficult to predict.

The spike in Democratic voter turnout in primaries and caucuses from 2004 to 2008 is staggering – a 90 percent increase in Iowa, 30 percent in New Hampshire, and 83 percent in South Carolina. Florida Democrats were on pace last night to more than double their turnout from four years ago, while Nevada, whose noncompetitive 2004 caucuses drew only 9,000 people, this year saw 118,000 people vote.

This is great news for America. But there are other demographic groups out there not being heard from. Like, Republican women. Emily Bazelon writes at Slate,

Gender has mattered a great deal in the Democratic race, with women tilting between Hillary (New Hampshire and Nevada) and Obama (Iowa and South Carolina), and voting in larger numbers and by different margins than men. But they haven’t been the key to any Republican victories. In Florida, tonight, they accounted for 44 percent of the vote in their party, compared to 60 percent among Democrats. …

… The virtue of a party without a gender gap is that it’s not dodging the potholes of identity politics. The downside is that it’s muddling along without thinking much about what its women want. Listening to Romney’s and McCain’s speeches tonight, I don’t hear anyone wooing the ladies. Not even in a throwaway sentence or two. …

… What do Republican women want, anyway? They support the Iraq war in far greater numbers than their Democratic counterparts. But they’re just as worried about the economy. Beyond that, and the obligatory pro-life nod, no one seems to ask them.

One suspects the loyal Republican woman, like the loyal Republican gay or the loyal Republican African-American, is so full of self-loathing she’s afraid to ask herself what she thinks.

And then there’s the ignorant yahoo demographic. New York Times reporter Adam Nossiter visits Columbia, Tennessee.

“I wish there was somebody worth voting for,” said Buford Moss, a retired Union Carbide worker sitting at the back table of Bucky’s Family Restaurant here, with a group of regulars, in a county seat that — as the home of the 11th president, James K. Polk — is one of the ancestral homelands of Jacksonian Democracy.

“The Democrats have left the working people,” Mr. Moss said.

“We have nobody representing us,” he continued, adding that he was “sad to say” he had voted previously for Mr. Bush. He was considering sitting out this election altogether. “Anyone but Obama-Osama,” he said, chuckling at a designation that met with mirthful approval at the table.

In interviews around the courthouse square, voters stuttered over Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in matchups with Republicans, particularly Senator John McCain, whose military credentials give him solid regional armoring. Some white voters voiced outright alarm over Mr. Obama, and though he is a Christian, allusions to his supposed Muslim ties were frequent, as were suggestions that he remained a disturbingly unknown quantity.

White men, in particular, expressed general fearfulness — over a possible terrorist attack, over an unnamed threat from Muslims, over Hispanic immigrants and over the weakening economy. These fears led them to reflect positively on Republican candidates, perceived as more hard-line on most fronts.

“I think our greatest fear is our terrorist enemies,” said Waymon L. Hickman, senior chairman of First Farmers & Merchants bank, whose headquarters building dominates Main Street here.

“You get Peloski up there and they say we’ve lost the war, and that just fuels our adversaries,” said Mr. Hickman, incorrectly pronouncing the name of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

We could spend all day speculating why America’s rural and small town white men are such a fearful lot, or why anybody in Columbia, Tennessee, spends more than 30 seconds a year worrying about terrorist enemies. Part of the problem is that these guys get all their information from Rush and Faux News, obviously. And their heads will explode before they’d vote for either a woman or a black man. These are the guys who will make John McCain a viable contender for the presidency, I fear.

16 thoughts on “Demographics

  1. I live in Northern California in a small (less than 1000) isolated community just south of the Oregon border. There was definitely a majority favorable to Bush in the 2004 election. However, at least here, seems the tide is turning. Too many deaths in Iraq, the economy is frightening and food and fuel prices hurt the mostly poor population here. This may overcome any resistance to voting for Hillary or Obama. In any case, fear of terrorism is non-existent.

  2. Yahoos, in this case, descriptive to a fault. This is why I fear McCain’s candidacy; he looks and sounds so right to this bunch.

  3. “These are the guys who will make John McCain a viable contender for the presidency, I fear.”

    You nailed it, Maha. They are not bright enough to understand that they are voting against there own best interests.

  4. Maha,
    McCain is also the darling of the corporate media. This gives him a huge edge. And the mega-churches will roll out busloads of fundie voters for the repubs. Corporate media + fundies/xenophobes = President McCain in ’08.

  5. “Anyone but Obama-Osama,” he said, chuckling at a designation that met with mirthful approval at the table.

    These are the women I work with; they all have a Rush-lovin’ Buford at home from whom they get their political notions, however deformed.

    But here’s the surprise: yesterday, every last one of them said they would NOT vote for McCain, whom they all described as “crazy” and “scary.” (They weren’t able to elaborate, which was no surprise to me.) Given the choice between Obama, McCain, or staying home to watch “Dancing With The Stars” on the first Tuesday in November, they’ll take the third option, most likely giving the victory to the Democrats.

  6. Maybe they should bring back literacy tests to whittle down McCain’s voting base.
    I think it’s been fairly well established that collectively we are an ill informed and easily manipulated electorate,—much to McCain’s advantage— but I also think that the radical Islamist extremist terrorist shtick has been beaten to death ,and has lost it’s power to manipulate on a large enough scale to deliver the presidency to McCain. McCain represents a continuation of Bush’s presidency, and the majority of Americans want that to end.
    I also think that Bush’s deception, lies, and constitutional abuses over the past 7 years has framed this upcoming presidential election as a battle for the soul of America. I can’t speak for other’s experiences, but for me, I feel something akin to a rape victim in an abstract regard..As an American something precious in my relationship to my country has been taken from me. I feel violated by Bush’s lies and betrayals of trust. I suspect others have formed the same perceptions
    McCain isn’t offering a prescription for healing the broken bonds of governance, he’s continuing on oblivious the damage caused by Bush. America won’t find its way if it follows McCain.

  7. Maha,
    I read Joe Bageant’s book, “Dear Hunting with Jesus”, and I can’t help but recall the gap he documented between those of us who have had the good fortune to go to college and those whose horizons did not turn out to be as high. The shame of it is that these folks should be the natural allies of politics seeking to offer universal health care, not waste their children’s vitality in senseless military adventures, and improve everybody’s children’s access to higher education. Joe seemed to express worry that they are alienated by the elite posturing of the cosmopolitans among us, and become ripe for manipulation by the right to vote against their own best interest because they are embraced by no one else… I share your worry that neither Dem ’08 candidate is well poised to offer an embrace to the deer hunters in the electorate.

  8. “We could spend all day speculating why America’s rural and small town white men are such a fearful lot, ”

    I think that they are fearful because they are shat upon a lot, and because a lot about their lives is insecure, and they sense (fairly rightly) that the existing power structure is not friendly to them. Their fathers probably didn’t like JFK much, either, if that is any consolation. (One of my earliest political memories is listening to my dairy farmer Uncle blast JFK, back when he was President.)

  9. I have a huge respect for McCain though I disagree on ISSUES. I do not think he is a corporate tool. In a matchup between him and Hillory, I am not sure who would get more corporate favor. He worked across the aisle to take a crack at campaign finance reform. I’m not going to vote for him, but I will not demonize him.

    He is wildly unpopular with huge factions of the Republican party. I predict that there WILL be a 3rd party candidate, possible to the right of McCain on immigration, and more appealing to bible-thumpers. This will guarantee victory for the Democratic candidate.

  10. It just occurred to me – and it was implicit in the debate last night whenMcCain mentioned Romenys attack ads on Gov. Huckabee and himself, that Governor Huckabee KNOWS thet he will split the conservative vote. Huckabee KNOWS he will give the nomination to McCain by staying in past SuperTuesday. Huckabee KNOWS he can’t beat Romney for the nomination, but he can deprive Romney of the nomination, and so he will get the last laugh when he returns to Arkansas. And Romney will probably never realize that the tactics he used are the reason for his defeat and has only himself to blame.

  11. “The Democrats have left the working people,” Mr. Moss said.

    Something to unpack. How many Mr. Mosses say this because of Nafta etc. and how many because of that Cadillac-driving welfare queen that took all our money and bought vodka with it using food stamps?

  12. I still think Romney becomes the nominee just because he has so much money to dip into and for whatever reason the conservative money parties that control the Republicans don’t like McCain’s independence.

  13. Does anyone else think the Republican party is going the way of the whigs? Despite the fact that Hispanics and other non-white immigrants are now the fastest growing component of America (and the one reason our population has not been reducing like Western and Norther European population) all they can manage is a bunch of hyperbole about immigration, fences, monitors, Saint Reagan, and largely unfounded threats of terror. It could be that a third party will rip the Republican party open and bury it for good. Its clear at least that the Republicans have become the party of the old white man and it is unlikely they will last in the 21st Century.

  14. I think that they are fearful because they are shat upon a lot, and because a lot about their lives is insecure, and they sense (fairly rightly) that the existing power structure is not friendly to them.

    Their fearfulness I can understand. What is inexplicable is why the Bufords of the world align themselves with the party of untrammelled corporate power and the power structure status quo, that virtually guarantee the perpetuation of their limited lot in life for their children. And are so droolingly susceptible to the scapegoating cultural-pandering propaganda of tools like Limbaugh. Stockholm Syndrome?

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