Voting, race, class, and geography

Monday, September 18, 2006 at 04:23 PM

Here's a very interesting take on the voting patterns in the U.S., which so many of us assume to include poor people voting against their own economic interests. My main quibble is that he doesn't seem to consider the effect of the pervasive Republican propaganda machine, or the fact that election results can be drastically altered by convincing even 2% of former Democratic voters to switch because of the so-called "values" issues.  But still worth reading. From Gary Younge in today's Guardian (U.K.):

According to recent US census figures, since President Bush assumed power in 2000 poverty has risen by 7%, the proportion of those without healthcare has risen by 9%, and median household income has fallen by 3%. But where the poor are most numerous, it seems the Democrats are weakest. The 10 states with the lowest household median income, where people are least likely to have healthcare and most likely to live in poverty, all voted Republican in 2004. Not only are they poor, but they're getting poorer. The five states with the steepest falls in income backed Bush

....But what to make of a political culture where poor states elect the party that represents the interests of the rich and vice versa?.... there is a clear racial attachment that white voters have to the Republican party that does not override income but certainly qualifies it. No understanding of why so many of them vote Republican can examine class as though it is distinct from race.

Which brings us to the final problem. The strongest correlation between income and voting is not whom you vote for but if you vote at all. The more you earn, the more likely you are to turn out. According to the census, 81.3% of those who earned $100,000 or more turned out in 2004; the figure for those who earned less than $20,000 was 48%.

That's because the rich have something to vote for. They have two parties; the poor here have none. Ultimately, the question of what's the matter with Kansas or any other state must in no small part be answered by yet another one: what's the matter with Democrats?