On the Sunday, October 28 edition of ABC’s This Week, Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast claimed that Obama might lose this election because the whole South is filled with racists that are somehow just like the Old Confederacy. As George Will noted, according to Sullivan all the whites that were not racist in 2008 suddenly are racist in 2012.
In a discussion of the “racial gap” in this year’s election, Sullivan declared all southerners to be racists and are sliding back into the civil war. “If Virginia and Florida go back to the Republicans, it’s the Confederacy, entirely. You put the map of the civil war over this electoral map you got the civil war,” he said.
George Will correctly dismissed Sullivan’s ranting as poppycock. Will noted that Democrats have been steadily losing the white vote since 1964 and that it has nothing to do with Barack Obama being black.
Will didn’t mention it, but one of the interesting tidbits of information from the 2008 election is that Obama won the largest share of any Democrat running for president since 1976 — not just any black Democrat, but any Democrat. If the country was so racist, how did that happen? He won 43 percent of the white vote in 2008.
But Sullivan persisted in his claim of racism repeatedly calling the southern states “the Confederates” and claiming that every southern state but Florida and Virginia voted as a block against Obama in 2008.
Of course, “the Confederacy” died 150 years ago. There are no “Confederate states” in 2012. But, secondly, the 2008 electoral map isn’t as cut-and-dried as Sullivan makes it seem.
It is true that in Louisiana Obama did very poorly in 2008 garnering only 14% of the white vote. He didn’t beat 20% in Mississippi or Alabama, either. But in all the rest of the south he got 20% or more of the white vote and in Florida and the upper south he got over 30% with Florida reaching 42%, and Tennessee (34%), Arkansas (30%), North Carolina (35%), and Virginia (39%) all getting over 30%. Also, Kentucky, while not a part of the original Confederacy gave Obama 36% of its white vote. These numbers compare favorably to the overall white vote of 43% showing that these “Confederate” states were not that far out of line with the rest of the country.
Further, as Pew noted in its post election wrap up, race played very little part in the white vote in 2008.
While Obama’s supporters expressed concern about the impact of his race on the election, the exit poll suggests that, if anything, the race factor favored Obama. Only a small share of white voters (7%) said that race was important to their vote, and they voted overwhelmingly for McCain (66% to 33%). But their impact was overshadowed by the much larger proportion of whites who said race was not important (92%).
Ah, but let’s not let facts get in the way of Andrew Sullivan’s hatemongering. We can see what the left’s meme will be if Obama happens to lose his bid for re-election. After praising the country as post racial in 2008, those same leftists will be claiming the country is somehow just like the old Confederacy in 2012.
On a side note, it was also outrageous for Gwen Ifill to cite that flawed AP poll supposedly proving that most whites are racists in their hearts.
George Stephanopoulos: [There is] a huge racial gap, 6 out of 10 voters according to the latest, white voters voting for Governor Romney. About 8 out of 10 minorities voting for president Obama.
Gwen Ifill: And not only that but there is an Associated Press poll that came out this weekend that showed that actually the majority of Americans still admit — now this is a computer online poll so people, I guess, are more honest than they are in the telephone poll — still admit racial basis. Now, we elected a black president so we didn’t expect it all to go away. But theoretically in a very tight race, if that affects 5% of the vote, which is what the assumption is, that could affect the outcome as well — just pure animus. I don’t think most people like to think that way, like to think that’s where America is. But I don’t think that you can ignore it. It would be naive to ignore that as a factor.
Andrew Sullivan: If Virginia and Florida go back to the Republicans, it’s the Confederacy, entirely. You put the map of the civil war over this electoral map you got the civil war.
Stephanopoulos: You’re rolling your eyes, George. [He says to George Will]
Sullivan: Right? Am I wrong?
George Will: You are and I’ll show why. Democrats have been losing the white vote constantly since 1964. So, that’s not new.
Nicolle Wallace: John Kerry lost the white vote.
Will: That’s right. Here’s what we’re trying to talk about. 2008, from Obama, gets that many white votes. This time, the polls indicating they get this many, we’re trying to explain this difference. Now, there are two possible explanations. A lot of white people who voted for Obama in 2008 watched him govern for four years and said, “not so good, let’s try someone else.” The alternative, the Confederacy hypothesis, is those people somehow for some reason in the last four years became racist.
Sullivan: No, that’s not my argument at all, George.
Will: It sounds like it.
Sullivan: No. I’m just pointing out the fact that the white people who’ve changed their minds happen to be in Virginia and Florida. And if you actually look at the map — they were the only two states in the Confed…– let me just point out — it’s the southernization of the Republican party. They were the only two states in 2008 that violated the Confederacy rule.
Will: Andrew made an empirical statement that’s checkable and false. Which is that people the white people moving away are in those two states.
Wallace: And a lot of them were Republicans.
Sullivan: Which Confederate State is for Obama right now?
Stephanopoulos: Look, one more time, this could be Ohio, because that’s where president Obama is focusing on now. The white male vote in Ohio, we’ll see if that holds up.