Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wonkery of the Week

Maggie says:
I'm going to try and keep up with a little something I'm going to call "Wonkery of the Week" here on m-pyre. (By the way, I like alliteration, so even if I don't make it every week, I'm keeping the name. And sure, 'wonkery' may not be in the dictionary, but I'm going to consider it a parting tribute to W. Gotta get them in while we still can!)

Wonkery of the Week is going to feature the pieces I find myself nerding out to with the most excitement each week. Enter last night, finishing a pile of work I brought home, and finally being able to dig into this article and its corresponding maps and charts under the covers at midnight. So worth the wait!

Nerdiness out of my system, let's take a look:

NYT: For South, a Waning Hold on National Politics

In the last week of the election, we heard various analysts warn the Republicans that their party was increasingly becoming a white, regional, "Southernized" party only. This article makes those claims impossible to refute, as it details how the South effectively Red-voted themselves out of relevancy last week by supporting McCain in such high numbers, making race the only explanation.

By voting so emphatically for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama — supporting him in some areas in even greater numbers than they did President Bush — voters from Texas to South Carolina and Kentucky may have marginalized their region for some time to come, political experts say.

The region’s absence from Mr. Obama’s winning formula means it “is becoming distinctly less important,” said Wayne Parent, a political scientist at Louisiana State University. “The South has moved from being the center of the political universe to being an outside player in presidential politics.”

The significance here is that the South ceded their claim to being the center of national politics and colored the much-lauded "Southern Strategy" irrelevant. A Democrat proved he could win without having a Southern accent, and the mid-Atlantic South (Virginia and North Carolina) went with him. In the Deep South, black turnout was higher than in previous years, but not high enough to match the overwhelming support of McCain by Deep South white voters - nearly 9 in 10 whites in Alabama, for example. According to the NYT analysis, "Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and whiter." Check the charts in the article for all the numbers; they're truly worth taking a look at.

What, then, for the future of the Republican Party? They are scrambling, no doubt. Their brand is maxed out. The Republican Governor's Conference is taking place right now, and you can be sure they're discussing how to revive their brand after last week's repudiation (see Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal emerging as free of the Bush/Iraq taint and embodying the only Republican biography that comes close to matching our president-elect). As the party scrambles to save face, how will they de-regionalize their message? How do they maintain relevancy, and what does the Deep South do in response?

The rest of the electoral map (Midwest! Mountain West!) breathes easier this week, basking in the glow of its newfound attention. I, for one, am thrilled about that.

Go wonk out yourself to the article, electoral maps, and charts!