Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Voting for people that look like you

I'm very annoyed at the constant questions about whether Obama can really get all the black votes or Clinton can corner the female votes - you don't hear people speculating on whether all the white guys will vote for Edwards just because he's white. That would be offensive. So why is it any less offensive to think that blacks will blindly vote for the black guy or that women will unthinkingly vote for the female candidate? And gosh, what does that mean for black women? Who do they vote for?
Voting for one's self-interest and voting for someone that looks like you are two very different things.



At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Historically, in general elections blacks have tended to vote Democratic at rates of 90% or above, which is why you see voter-suppression efforts of the type you saw in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 -- illegal purging of ex-cons (disproportionately black) from voter rolls, assigning inadequate numbers of voting machines to predominantly black precincts, and so on.

But how this plays out in the primary, I don't know. The only real comparison we have is Jesse Jackson in '84, and he didn't get the nomination, so who knows?

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Tony Plutonium said...

It's more the media coverage that bothers me. The talking heads seem to start with the assumption that Obama SHOULD get most of the black vote or there's something wrong with him - ditto women and Clinton. No one's going to come out and say that Edwards or Biden SHOULD get all the white guy vote (or that all leprechauns should vote for Kucinich). You can make the case that because this is the first time women and blacks have even had an opportunity to vote for someone that looks like them (at least in quite some time), they may do so in large numbers this time and that as those opportunities become more commonplace they'll vote issues before sex or race. I dunno.

My point that I'm making badly is that if someone in the media assumed I was an Edwards supporter because he was a fellow white guy and not because I agree with his approach to issues, I'd be a little pissed and I think women and people of color might ought to be a little pissed at assumptions being made about them as well.

At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, I gotcha: You're saying that they're saying "should" and not "would."

Well, yes, the media do that kind of crap. All the time, in fact. We're catching hell right now from first-time city council candidates who think we're tilting coverage toward incumbents. The filing period did tend to give incumbents more coverage, simply because "Will they run again or not?" is a basic question at filing time and, in this case, applies particularly to the mayor (who won't run). But once the filing period is over, we try to keep the coverage balanced among all candidates, even the ones one might think of as "marginal."

(The onus, too, is on candidates to act like candidates -- get out in the community to meet people and so forth. City Councilhood doesn't come to your door like a gift from Amazon. You've got to work for it.)


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