The Left Is Still Misunderstanding How (Some) Racists Vote

At this point, I realize I’m having as much effect as shouting at clouds, but until the left, construed broadly, begins to understand that Democrats win 25% – 35% of the white racist vote, we’re going to continue to get maudlin pieces about how Americans didn’t reject racism in the 2018 election. The problem is not said maudlinitude, but that the inability to realize that some white racists vote Democratic in spite of and in opposition to their racism means we fail to comprehend why some people, racist or not, vote Democratic.

By the way, if you don’t believe what I wrote in the first sentence, take a gander at this figure from around May 2016 (for those keeping score at home, Sanders supporters inexplicably weren’t included, but they clocked in slightly lower than Clinton supporters). And remember–this is all supporters, not just white ones (so Clinton’s numbers are probably pretty close to the non-Trump Republicans):


Other surveys with different methodologies have similar results. The point is this: white Democratic racists are an integral part of the Democratic coalition (e.g., there are probably as many Democratic white racists as there are Democratic Latinos, possibly a few more). Yet they aren’t voting based on their racism (which is good!). My point isn’t to welcome racism with open arms, or argue that Democrats should try racist appeals–not at all.

It would have been wonderful if Republican Iowa congressman and elite racist Steve King had lost, but I think a large fraction of the white Democratic vote, and not just the racists, didn’t view this election through that prism. Do I like how ‘bigotry adjacent’ too many white people are? Of course not, it’s despicable (maybe even deplorable?). But you work with the electorate you have, not the electorate you wish you had. Many of them responded to something else–racism was orthogonal to their decision. Figure out what that is (I have ideas about that!), and do more of that. If a racist wants to back candidates who would do things to mitigate racism (and a bunch of other bad -isms), why shouldn’t we encourage them to do so?

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6 Responses to The Left Is Still Misunderstanding How (Some) Racists Vote

  1. Reblogged this on Wide Awake But Dreaming and commented:
    We need to *really* understand what’s going on…

  2. Joe Shelby says:

    Mind you, this goes in the opposite as well, where there are gay men and black men that vote Republican because tax cuts and business deregulation is more important to them than civil rights, even as the Christians and racists who win work to restrict their lives with extreme prejudice.

  3. EB says:

    Thank you. Xenophobia is widespread among all groups, and especially majority groups that haven’t had to learn to exist within a dominant culture. I have relatives who would qualify as racist (they are influenced not by personal experience but by things like seeing inner-city violence on TV, or thinking that the US should limit immigration from Latin America because they don’t like hearing Spanish spoken when they don’t understand it). At the same time, they accept their neighbors and co-workers who are not white, and, as you say, vote Democrat. I worry that if Democrats continue to vilify white voters who are not fully on board with multiculturalism as hopeless, instead of giving them room to evolve, we will lose those voters. Not a good prospect.

  4. Dave Dell says:

    “bigotry adjacent”

    Interesting phrase. I interpret that to mean that while a person might be bigoted in the abstract they don’t give it much thought in their day to day interactions. Additionally, they have other interests economically, but perhaps socially as well, that are of more immediate concern than the thought that some “other” might achieve the same rights and privileges you take for granted. This makes them at least somewhat resistant to the attempts to make their abstract bigotry the foremost issue for their vote. Perhaps that even describes myself to some degree.

    With thanks to Masterakrain’s post at Two Party Opera:

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow

    Between the crosses, row on row,

    but it might rain, so I can’t go,

    can’t get my hair wet, don’t you know…

  5. smilecalm says:

    why are they racist?
    why is ignorance & propaganda
    so prevalent in the US?
    how many ways
    are elections unfair? 🙂

  6. gchaffin4278 says:

    This is about misunderstanding statistics. Racist attitudes make a voter, all else equal, less likely to vote Democrat. That’s about propensity, an on the margins observations. With “Identity Politics,” Sides et al show that racial feelings now align with partisan feelings. HOWEVER, as you point out, there are “racial conservatives” (racists) who vote D and “racial liberals” (tolerant people, i guess) who vote GOP. It’s just that racial feelings make people more likely to vote R.

    I really wish more people understood stats, or that we taught it better. See also: confidence intervals vs. two-sided margins of error in polls and HUGE error margins on crosstabs in election polls. We’re talking about samples on the order of 6 or 7 dozen people.

    On Mon, Nov 12, 2018 at 10:01 AM Mike the Mad Biologist wrote:

    > mikethemadbiologist posted: “At this point, I realize I’m having as much > effect as shouting at clouds, but until the left, construed broadly, begins > to understand that Democrats win 25% – 35% of the white racist vote, we’re > going to continue to get maudlin pieces about how Americans ” >

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