So how’d I do? Eh, so-so.
— “Obama wins by a surprising eight points, 53-45, with a hair under two points for the Barr/Nader crowd.” Real numbers: 52.4 for Obama, 46.3 for McCain, 1.3 for everyone else. (Although there are still votes missing, and Nate Silver seems to think Obama’s lead will grow another few fractions of a point as the remaining votes are counted.)
— “Battlegrounds: Obama wins: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, Iowa, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota (!), Montana (!). McCain wins: Missouri, Indiana.” I was right on OH, PA, FL, MI, NH, IA, VA, NC, NV, CO, NM, and MO. Erroneously gave Obama GA, ND, and MT; erroneously gave McCain IN. Underestimated the value of Obama’s Chicago supporters doing GOTV across the border; overestimated the black vote in Georgia, the Ron Paul vote in Montana, and my own sense in North Dakota.
— “Total EVs: Obama 374, McCain 164.” Reality: 349-162 so far; assuming results microgaming online casinos stay the same in NC and MO (and Obama gets the 1 EV in Omaha), the final result will be 365-175.
— “Senate: Dems take Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon, North Carolina, Minnesota. Georgia goes to a December runoff for the 60th seat.” I was right on VA, NM, CO, NH, OR, NC, and GA. The other two (AK, MN) are all technically still uncalled, but it’s looks like I’ll be wrong on AK, and who knows on MN. (I didn’t mention the other close Senate races I expected to remain status quo, MS, LA, and KY. I got those right.)
— “House: Dems add 29 seats.” Reality: It’s currently +19, but there are eight races still undecided, so it’ll probably be something like 4-6 off.
So a decent showing, but I expected a bit better.
One last note. The second pane of this NYT graphic is one of the most shameful images I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a map of the counties where McCain in ‘08 outperformed Bush in ‘04. There aren’t many — after all, the entire country classic slots moved about around eight points in the Democrats’ direction, and it was remarkably consistent across states. (See graph #5.)
The counties that went toward McCain — despite the last four years — are overwhelmingly in the south. More particularly, they’re in the parts of the south with a history of white racism and not enough blacks to overcome their racism through vastly increased turnout. Lots of Arkansas, Tennessee, and — sadly — my home state of Louisiana. And don’t blame the shift all on Katrina — my home parish, Acadia Parish, went McCain 72-26 after going Bush 63-35 in ‘04 and 59-38 in ‘00, and Katrina and Rita didn’t do anything to online roulette us. I talked to enough friends back home and got enough forwarded nonsense anti-Obama emails to know how much of that vote was motivated by pure hatred of black people. I love my home state, but it’s a goddamn shame.
As far as historic patterns of racism north Alabama does not have the problems that Birmingham and further south had. north Alabama was represented for a long time by Democrat Bud Cramer, and just elected another Democrat in this election. There is more to those numbers than just racism. North Alabama is the wealthiest part of the state. Perhaps class plays into this?
The red central counties in Alabama look like they cover Anniston, AL home of the Anniston Star. A paper famous microgaming casino bonuses in the South for its liberal stances, including supporting school integration. George Wallace called it "The Red Star." (Funny how colors change meaning)
I'm not ready to chalk up all these shifts primarily to racism. North Alabama gets significant chunks of money from military R&D (It has the second largest research park in the world). I could see them supporting the war candidate.
Joshua Benton is the director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, among other things. Before that, he was a staff writer and columnist for The Dallas Morning News. (More.)
Any opinions expressed here are solely mine, and not those of my employer. In many cases, they may not even be mine.