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Patterns and politics - take one

Let’s get it out in the open: last night was a tough one. Like 2010 midterms bad. Yet somehow worse, because we knew it was coming.

I’m done screaming about why Amendment One is stupid, dangerous, and blatantly prejudiced. I’m done making nuisance legal analysis, policy arguments, and appealing to the better nature in people. In short, I’m done trying to talk sense to crazy. Crazy won, sane lost.

The question is, why?

Putting aside the emotion for a moment, let's try to figure out what happend. We knew the numbers were against us from the beginning, and the result was larger than I was expecting, but what is really interesting is not who voted for it, but where they voted for it.

If we look back at the counties that went for Obama in ’08, we see mostly urban areas, mostly educated, mostly diverse communities.

08_nc.png

No surprise there. Many of us were expecting a similar look for the amendment vote. Historically, there is strong link between the urban areas with universities, and the vote going left. Take a look at the last three competitive presidential election cycles and the vote distribution in NC.

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Remarkably similar, right? With few exceptions, the same areas, which strongly correlate with those areas containing a large public research university, vote blue. Then what the hell explains last night's results?

Amendment1.png

It's pretty clear the core of support was around the Triangle, with the rest coming from Charlotte and Asheville regions, and Watauga just slipping in under the mark. But what happened to everyone else? This leaves over two dozen counties unaccented for. I don't have all the numbers yet, but I think the answer lies in turnout.

Statewide, only 21% of registered voters voted for Amendment One, but they were 61% of total votes cast. If you extrapolate that over the individual counties, that pops a hole in the presidential turn-out model right there.

Once I can download the turnout data, I think we will have at least a partial answer to the question here. My prediction is that low turnout, particular among college students who are quite busy this time of year, can explain at least some of the discrepancy. What do you think?