“When you look at the overall picture, however, we are still fighting the Civil War. That is to say, the contest was mainly between two huge groups of white people who don’t much like each other, with the colored folk playing a marginal role. That’s how it was in the War Between the States, and that’s how it still is today.
In the state of Mississippi, for example, 89 percent of whites voted for Romney; in the state of Alabama, it was 84 percent. In the state of Maine, on the other hand, only 40 percent of whites voted for Romney; in Vermont, only 33 percent.
Barack Obama wasn’t re-elected by blacks, Hispanics, or Asians, though they helped at the margins; he was re-elected by Yankees.”
It is so obvious that it is hard to believe that we are still debating this anymore.
Here’s the percentage of the White vote won by John Kerry and Barack Obama in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections:
New York: 49% (2004), 52% (2008), 49% (2012)
Massachusetts: 59% (2004), 59% (2008), 57% (2008)
Connecticut: 51% (2004), 51% (2004), 51% (2012)
New Hampshire: 50% (2004), 54% (2008), 51% (2012)
New Jersey: 49% (2008), 43% (2012)
Pennsylvania: 45% (2004), 48% (2008), 42% (2012)
Vermont: 65% (2008), 66% (2012)
Maine: 58% (2008), 57% (2012)
Rhode Island: 57% (2008)
Maryland: 56% (2008), 43% (2012)
Delaware: 55% (2008)
Here’s the number of electoral votes won by John Kerry and Barack Obama in the Northeast:
2004: 117/117 (100%)
2008: 117/117 (100%)
2012: 112/112 (100%)
Compare the 2008 election map by county to the 2012 election map by county in the Northeast. The New York Times interactive map also allows you to toggle by county through the 2012, 2008, 2004 ,and 2000 elections.
In 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012, you can see that Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire became more Democratic. There was no change in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
Here’s the percentage of the White vote won by John Kerry and Barack Obama in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida in 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections:
Florida: 42% (2004), 42% (2008), 37% (2012)
North Carolina: 27% (2004) 35% (2008), 31% (2012)
Virginia: 32% (2004), 39% (2008), 37% (2012)
How does the White vote for Barack Obama compare with the other Southern states?
Mississippi: 11% (2008), 11% (2012)
Alabama: 10% (2008), 15% (2012)
What about black turnout? How does black turnout in the Weakening South compare to black turnout in the Solid South? What is the size of the black electorate in these five Southern states?
Mississippi: blacks are 38% of the electorate
Alabama: blacks are 28% of the electorate
Virginia: blacks are 20% of the electorate
Florida: blacks are 13% of the electorate
North Carolina: blacks are 23% of the electorate
What about Hispanic turnout? What is the size of the Hispanic electorate?
Virginia: Hispanics are 5% of the electorate
Florida: Hispanics are 17% of the electorate
North Carolina: Hispanics are 4% of the electorate
What is the size of the black and Hispanic electorate combined in the Weakening South compared to the Solid South?
Virginia: 25% of the electorate
Florida: 30% of the electorate
North Carolina: 27% of the electorate
Mississippi: 41% of the electorate
So, it turns out that there is a much bigger black and Hispanic electorate in Mississippi than either Florida, Virginia, or North Carolina. The problem in these three states is simply that 11% of Whites in Mississippi voted for Barack Obama whereas 31% to 37% are voting for him in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.
How do we explain this? Where are do these White voters live who are voting for Barack Obama? In Virginia, they obviously live in NOVA and Hampton Roads. In Florida, they obviously live in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami. In North Carolina, they obviously live in Asheville and the Research Triangle.
Let’s extend this analysis to the West Coast. What percentage of White people on the West Coast voted for Barack Obama?
California: 53% (2008), 45% (2012)
Oregon: 60% (2008), 54% (2012)
Washington: 59% (2008), 53% (2012)
Let’s do some more fun comparisons of the White vote for Barack Obama:
Texas: 28% (2008)
California: 53% (2008), 45% (2012)
Kentucky: 36% (2008)
Wisconsin: 54% (2008), 48% (2012)
West Virginia are Vermont are the two whitest states in America. In Vermont, every county voted for Barack Obama. In West Virginia, every county voted for Mitt Romney. California and Texas are two of the most Hispanic states in America. Yet California is a solid blue state and Texas is a solid red state.
The 2012 election was another clash between the rival subnations: Dixie (Greater Appalachia, Tidewater, Deep South, New France) and Far West versus Yankeedom, Left Coast, New Netherland, and El Norte. The Midlands replayed its traditional role as the swing region between the two coalitions.
Notice how little changed: the Cascades is still the cultural fault line in the “Pacific Northwest” between Far West and the Left Coast. El Norte turned out for Obama in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Iowa still has its split personality. Eastern Iowa, Southwest Wisconsin, and Southeast Minnesota reproduced itself as distinct cultural region. Greater Appalachia and Deep South went hard for Romney. South Florida continued to play its role as a cultural region distinct from North Florida.
For all the talk about “the Hispanic vote,” the fault line of American politics is still the same as it was when George Washington was president: it is still Yankeedom vs. Deep South.