Thursday, November 06, 2008

Crunching the Numbers: National

Viewing our nation as “red states vs. blue states” is simplistic, and exactly what one would expect from America’s dumbed-down “public discourse,” or “media vomit” as we could delicately call it. As has been pointed out many times, America is actually a purple nation, red and blue mixed together. People have made maps with different shades of purple to try to show the true reality, but this isn’t visually effective.

I have always thought that the ultimate electoral map would start out white. A state that voted 50-50 would be white. The most extreme Republican states would be dark red; the most extreme Democratic states would be dark blue. A state that voted 51% Democratic would be the lightest of blues, with the intensity of blue increasing with the percentage of the Democratic vote. This would give a better visual representation of what’s actually going on.

The top three Republican states were:
Oklahoma 66% McCain
Wyoming 65%
Utah 63%

The top three Democratic states:
Hawaii 72% Obama
Vermont 67%
Rhode Island 63%

A lot of rural counties gave McCain over 80% of the vote. The winners, as far as I can tell, are two side-by-side counties in the northern panhandle of Texas: Ochiltree County and Roberts County, which both gave McCain 92% of the vote. Obama got, as one would expect, 8%. What a lonely place to be a Democrat! There are many rural areas in this country that are unbelievably isolated and extremely backward culturally. Most people with self-actualizing tendencies would find living in such a spot unbearable... which is why so few of them do. It’s no wonder these areas vote so heavily Republican. (I homesteaded in the Missouri Ozarks from 1970-73 and found the area unbearably backward. The county I lived in, Howell County, voted 64% for McCain this year, which isn’t all that bad in the overall scheme of things. I don’t want to imagine what living in an 85% McCain county would be like.)

The areas that went most heavily for Obama were urban for the most part. Washington, DC voted 93% Obama. Philadelphia went 83%. As I mentioned yesterday, the People’s Republic of San Francisco went 85% Obama. Manhattan, not to be outdone by the Left Coast, also went 85% Obama. A loud Bronx cheer to Bush/McCain came from... the Bronx, which voted 88% Obama.

Especially in the South, it’s easy to see which counties have a lot of black people, because those counties are blue on the map. A prime example is Macon County, Alabama, which voted 87% Obama. (Alabama also contains counties that are evidently mostly white, which voted over 80% McCain.)

Yesterday I mentioned the 900-pound gorilla of New Mexico politics. Well, national politics has a 900-pound gorilla as well, though actually it’s more like a 20,000-pound Tyrannosaurus: the over 56,000,000 Americans who voted for McCain. That’s 46.3% of the electorate. That’s almost half the electorate that quite specifically rejected Obama’s message of comity and hope. They quite specifically embraced meanheartedness and stupidity. Houston, we’ve got a problem.

One problem with politics, especially as practiced by the Democrats, is that everything is ad hoc and seat-of-the-pants. Millions are spent on advertising once every four years, with little continuity between elections. (In the meantime, Limbaugh et. al. are spewing hate 24/7.) There isn’t enough permanent institutional structure on the progressive end of the spectrum. Howard Dean’s “50 State Strategy” paid off handsomely this time, but much more work needs to be done.

If I had a million dollars (but hey, let’s make it ten million), I would create a team of the most personable people you could every have the pleasure of meeting. These people would fan out all over the country and interview thousands of conservatives. The interviewers would ask, in an honest and open manner, what the conservatives believe, and why. Our crack team of number-crunchers at the home office would be busy tabulating the results, and would constantly be coming up with more questions to ask. Questionnaires could be developed that could be sent out to millions of people at once. Eventually it might be possible to formulate a strategy to effectively influence people who don’t think in the same way we do. I’m not talking about people who merely have different opinions, but people whose thought processes are fundamentally different. This work has doubtless been done to some extent by campaign pollsters, but not in the methodical way I propose.

The bottom line is, we’ve got over 56,000,000 people in this country who not only couldn’t see how stupid and mean McCain/Palin were, but actually thought they were pretty cool. You don’t reason with these people, because verbal arguments don’t work. The cerebral cortex is cut off from the rest of the organism. You’ve got to work with the lizard brain, or maybe the spinal column itself. Until we figure out a way to get some semblance of unanimity going in this country, we’ll be fighting the same battles over and over while the fundamental problems remain unaddressed.


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