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For two Sundays in a row last month, Kossacks were treated to a front-paged review of this book and a subsequent front-paged interview with the author, who said things like this:

"Are all Southerners racist? Or ignorant? Or backward-looking? Or anti-progress? Of course not. But enough of them are, and their influence is so strong, that they are a threat to the rest of America's well-being."
So I bookmarked both diaries with the thought of revisiting them after Election Day, with the help of The New York Times' election maps.

RedBlueElectoralMap480

Damn. That's some red South. But follow me under the curlicue and let's get granular.

RedBlueCounties480

That's the same states' map, broken down this time not by binary red-blue electoral vote, but by county.

Three things leapt out at me right away:

1. The "blue" West Coast becomes a coastal sliver of blue with a red interior (the lone exception being California);

2. The South becomes awfully purplish, with a lot of light blue and light red;

3. The Midwest -- from mid-central Texas north through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and west through Wyoming, Utah and Nevada -- damn, now that's the deep red in America 2012.

(I'm not going to suggest anything as stupid as a plan to "kick out" the Midwestern states or have them "secede" in order to fulfill some progressive fantasy -- one, because we're all in this together, and two, because I hope I'm not a douche like Chuck Thompson.)

Oh, and a fourth thing. When the author of this bilge said:

99.99 percent of southerners want nothing to do with a real secession. They just like to wave their slave state flags and talk about rising again and accuse the president of being a Muslim radical.
... he was pulling statistics straight of his ass in a most Limbaughian fashion.

Does he really think Southern African-Americans "like to wave their slave state flags"? Does he just does not see them as residents of the South?

Or does he not give a shit about tossing African-American Democrats under the bus?

Let's go further into The New York Times' map. Check out these major Southern cities and how they voted for Obama versus some of the country's most liberal cities:

Clayton County (metro Atlanta) - 84.8%
Manhattan County (Manhattan) - 84.2%
San Francisco County (San Francisco) - 83.3%
Orleans Parish (New Orleans) - 80.3%
DeKalb County (~10% Atlanta) - 77.9%
Suffolk County (Boston) - 77.6%
Multnomah County (Portland) - 75.8%
Cook County (Chicago) - 74.0%
Denver County (Denver) - 73.5%
Hinds County (Jackson, Miss.) - 72.2%
Los Angeles County (Los Angeles) 68.9%
King County (Seattle) - 68.8%
Fulton County (~90% Atlanta) - 64.2%
Travis County (Austin) - 60.2%
Harris County (Houston) - 49.4%

Some interesting anecdotal numbers there.

• The metro Atlanta suburbs and New Orleans went far more for Obama than did either Portland or Seattle.

• Clayton County, which is about 38% white, voted for Obama in percentages greater than either Manhattan or San Francisco.

• Austin, which is seen by many progressives as a bulwark of blue in the South, voted for Obama in fewer percentages -- 12%! -- than did Jackson, Mississippi.

Oh, I know, I know: But those are just the big cities! Yeah, and that's where most of the people live that Thompson is denigrating.

So: Does this mean that much of the racism, homophobia and just plain bassackwardsism that this author found in the South is just made up, or doesn't exist any more? Hell no. Take a look at this stat if you want to be depressed. And this, if you want even more depression fodder. Pile on top of that the fact that the GOP has control over many of the Southern statehouses, and it becomes as sad as one of Bobby Jindal's dinosaur evolution textbooks.

But The New York Times has one more map, and I found it the most remarkable of all:

ChangeMap480

That's a graphical depiction of the demographic voting changes since the 2008 election -- which parts of the country are turning red and which ones are turning blue.

The potential should be obvious.

I'll quote the original author one more time:

"If the people presented in this book look to you like chery-picked morons, I'd say that just makes my case for me, because they represent mainstream southerners with all but two or three exceptions."
I'd suggest that the Democratic party go back to Howard Dean's 50-state strategy and start reaching out more to these non "cherry-picked morons" ... because where our smug leftist little version of Ann Coulter saw idiocy, a more canny political strategist might see opportunity to turn a red(dish) state into, at the very least, a swing state in 2016 and beyond.

--

For extra reading: I found this essay on The Root, "Is The Southern Strategy Dead?," to be fascinating, particularly the conclusion:

Old-school efforts to deny African Americans the franchise won't go unchallenged again and are by and large a failed experiment in the Obama era. Likewise, attempts to spark division and resentment among blue-collar whites is slowly proving ineffective in the key places that matter in Election 2012.

If Mitt Romney loses, it could spell the end of Jim Crow-style politics. And that may be the change we hoped for to begin with.

Originally posted to Gutterboy on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 06:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Kos Georgia and Virginia Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good diary.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gutterboy

    Should keep me optimistic until I hear another racist call from Miss. or Alabama on C-SPAN Washington Journal.

    Just about the only thing good about the South are the blacks (and I'm white).  

    My German great great grandfather entered this country in New Orleans and ended up in Nebraska--after fighting for the Union in the Civil War.  

    Gee, when a German guy has a problem with the South, you KNOW they suck!

  •  Thank you (14+ / 0-)

    Having lived half of my life my long life in the North and half in the South, I appreciate you using facts to refute the easy characterization of the South.  What is the difference between the racism shown at a southern redneck dance hall and a northern country club nineteenth hole?  Further question, which of those places has the greater ability to proliferate their beliefs: the HVAC tech at the dance hall or the "boss" that sends a letter to his employees advising them "in their own best interest" to vote republican.
    As a Northerner and Southerner I completely reject the easy unthoughtful prejudices of either camp.  Racism and small mindedness is, like cream cheese, spread more or less evenly.  We effect change in this country one county, one mind, at a time.  No one should get the intellectual high hat because of geography.

  •  Umm, its urban vs. rural (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nearzoltan, a gilas girl

    as usual, and rich vs. poor.  Still, the south sinking into the sea would make us more like Canada.

    Romney/Caligula 2012!

    by sujigu on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 06:43:17 PM PST

  •  I don't think that's the Midwest. (4+ / 0-)
    3. The Midwest -- from mid-central Texas north through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and west through Wyoming, Utah and Nevada -- damn, now that's the deep red in America 2012.
    At least as the Midwest is traditionally defined.

    Show us your tax returns !!!!!!

    by Bush Bites on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 06:52:43 PM PST

  •  Alright, so just cut Appalachia loose then... (0+ / 0-)

    nothin' to see here folks, just a massive labor uprising.

    by WesEverest on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 07:03:28 PM PST

  •  I'd Recommend This Diary 100 Times If I Could n/t (6+ / 0-)

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 07:10:23 PM PST

  •  Odd: Alabama and Mississippi look fairly blue. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SquirmyRooter

    But then you look at the results and Obama lost AL by 22 points and MS by 12.

    Those counties must not be very dense.

    Show us your tax returns !!!!!!

    by Bush Bites on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 07:20:49 PM PST

  •  Idaho (4+ / 0-)

    Some results:

    Madison County, Idaho

    Romney - 13,445 (93%)
    Obama -       832 (6%)

    Franklin County, Idaho

    Romney - 5,195  (93%)
    Obama -      325  (6%)

    Caribou County, Idaho

    Romney - 2,608  (88%)
    Obama -     385  (13%)

    Bear Lake County, Idaho

    Romney - 2,489  (88%)
    Obama -     302  (11%)

    Jefferson County, Idaho

    Romney - 9,895 (87%)
    Obama -   1,303 (11%)

    Cassia County, Idaho

    Romney - 7,150  (85%)
    Obama - 1, 093  (13%)

    Oneida County, Idaho

    Romney - 1,838  (88%)
    Obama -     217  (10%)

    Jefferson County, Idaho

    Romney - 9,895  (87%)
    Obama -  1,303  (11%)

    These margins (and there are others like them in the west in some plains states) are bigger than in virtually any southern county yet we don't get books telling us how we should cut Idaho loose.

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 07:23:35 PM PST

  •  Nice work. I seldom rec (10+ / 0-)

    diaries with this much vitriol directed at a fellow progressive -- but, after reading his interview here a few weeks ago (after which I had to take a break from the site to avoid flaming out), I'd say it's well deserved.

    I've never seen overt racism from the South bashers. However, their arguments often carry tacit premises that have unpleasant racial undertones when unpacked. The classic one about Texas always goes something like:

    Yeah, fuck 'em. Let 'em secede or fall into the Gulf or whatever. We can keep Austin, though. It's a small sea of sanity amid a big red cesspool of human filth.
    Why Austin, though? Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso all voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012; so what distinguishes Austin from them? Oh yeah -- it's the only one with a preponderance of White Democrats. If you don't accept the racial implication, then perhaps it's the only one with large numbers of college-educated Democrats, or hipsters, or whatever. But that still sounds pretty douchey.

    Grew a mustache and a mullet / Got a job at Chick-Fil-A

    by cardinal on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 07:43:25 PM PST

    •  Thanks. I agree (4+ / 0-)

      The Austin analysis is very interesting.

      I think there's a definite sense among some progressives of what a Democrat is at heart, and it doesn't always square with, say, an overweight person who eats fast food, goes to a Baptist church, and couldn't care less about "sustainability." Or what Ed Schultz calls the "gun toting, meat-eating lefties."

      But those are the votes that turn red states to swing states, and a lot of progressives can get very snobby when it comes to someone who might, say, shop at Walmart and actually like it.

    •  I seldom rec ... vitriol at a fellow progressive (3+ / 0-)

      But anyone who throws about the idea of secession is not a progressive - they're an isolationist elitist.

      Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?

      by ConfusedSkyes on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:55:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think you're overcorrecting a bit... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    I agree with you that the book is asinine, but it seems to me like you're overreacting at certain points here. For instance, when looking at the county map:

    The South becomes awfully purplish, with a lot of light blue and light red;
    Well, of course. The counties in the black belt with - with majority African-American populations - have voted for Democrats since the 70's/80's (look at any county-level map of a presidential election).
    The Midwest -- from mid-central Texas north through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and west through Wyoming, Utah and Nevada -- damn, now that's the deep red in America 2012.
    This is a little mistaken, I think. The Midwest in common parlance refers to none of these states other than maybe Kansas and Nebraska. Even then, I think it's better to refer to this area as "Great Plains" or West states.
    In fact, the Upper Midwest has some of the bluest rural and white areas outside of the Northeast. And culturally, north Texas and Oklahoma are fairly southern, no? At least partially?
    But I agree when you bring up that the white populations in the South and West are probably equally Republican.
    99.99 percent of southerners want nothing to do with a real secession. They just like to wave their slave state flags and talk about rising again and accuse the president of being a Muslim radical.
    It is obviously not factually correct when Thompson writes this, but I think it's pretty obvious he isn't referring to African-Americans here. That said, the fact that some Republican county chairs are talking of seceding in Texas and Alabama and the fact that a disproportionate number of southern Whites think Obama is Muslim seems like a confirmation of some kind of Southern revanchism.
    I'd suggest that the Democratic party go back to Howard Dean's 50-state strategy and start reaching out more to these non "cherry-picked morons"
    It's interesting that some counties in the Deep South had some movement toward Obama in 2012 from 2008. But what is that due to? Increased minority turnout? Growing numbers of Latinos? Or more white people voting for Obama? I think he kind of bottomed out in those areas in 2008, so there was nowhere really to go but up.
    I'm hopeful about Georgia in the next 2 or 3 cycles; I think metro Atlanta can keep trending blue. But otherwise the southern (and western) white populations seem to be heavily, heavily Republican.
  •  CT's book was provocative, but there's truth in (0+ / 0-)

    his assertion that willful stupidity about facts, along with a great deal of hate/disrespect for women, gays, non-whites, poor, non-Xtian people drive their politics. I was glad someone wrote a book that sticks it to the people who make almost any anti-liberal, -north, -Obama, -Democratic Party book a bestseller.

  •  Besides... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gutterboy

    Multiple times in the book, Thompson concedes that secession is more trouble than it's worth. He's using the idea of secession as a framing device to confront some very real, very dangerous differences we have with ourselves.

    Moreover, He doesn'y hate the South, or the people there. It's the idea he's against, the warped reality that exists there. For example, he mentions a George Washington statue outside the statehouse in South Carolina. It was vandalized by Union troops during the war, and South Carolinans have decided to leave there, damaged and defaced, instead of repairing it.

    I mean, it's only a monument to one of the greatest men to come from the greatest nation on Earth. Repairing it can wait; the message of "look how badly those yankees treat us!" is more important convey.

    Although, I agree entirely on the "Football" chapter. @#$% the SEC.

    “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” - Hanlon's Razor

    by Mister Black on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:26:37 PM PST

    •  Respectfully saying... (4+ / 0-)
      Multiple times in the book, Thompson concedes that secession is more trouble than it's worth. He's using the idea of secession as a framing device to confront some very real, very dangerous differences we have with ourselves.
      ... if Ann Coulter wrote a book about kicking San Francisco out of the United States, and then magnanimously declared the action to be "more trouble than it was worth," I don't think we'd be calling it "a framing device to confront some very real, very dangerous differences we have with ourselves."
      For example, he mentions a George Washington statue outside the statehouse in South Carolina. It was vandalized by Union troops during the war, and South Carolinans have decided to leave there, damaged and defaced, instead of repairing it.
      That's true, and it stinks. I'm neither arguing or defending either the horrible offenses committed by the South or some of the headslapping decisions politicians continue to make.

      I'm making an electoral comparison, and that map up top shows that two out of three people around that statehouse voted for Barack Obama on Tuesday -- and when you sift the red states with some granularity, you come up with some more meaningful information than a binary red-blue construct.

      •  I understand the equivalency. (0+ / 0-)

        But then again, there's a tangible difference. Coulter would be perfectly happy if everyone in San Francisco was rounded up and shot. Thompson is willing to embrace Repbulicans, just not insanity. It's a shame they're a package deal these days.

        Now to be fair, it's splitting hairs, and being against the book is fine. But I will ask you this...what other way do we have to confront these people? Talking them seems pointless. Throught experiments via silly premises in hardcover doiesn't seem to be that bad of a plan.

        “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” - Hanlon's Razor

        by Mister Black on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:32:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Donald Trump is the Honey Boo Boo of the North, (4+ / 0-)

    let us not forget. He's gone bankrupt more than once and has said more stupid things than one human being has a right to say, and yet people treat him like an oracle. His Tweets election night advocated revolution.

    Yes, there is a high concentration of teh crazy here in the South, and sadly, many people's vote matches their skin color, but not all white people in the South vote Republican and not all black people vote Democrat. Herman Cain is from Georgia.

    Cain and Trump are, of course, anecdotal cases, but the statistics show a bright blue fringe in South Texas with Atlanta as a bright blue dot. There is hope and I put my trust in Howard Dean's fifty state strategy.

    Yeah, stupid racist things get me down, and my neighbors are a generally scary bunch of misinformed religious zealots, but there are many Democrats around me who keep a low profile because of the entitled attitude of the right wing crazies. We won't give up, though.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 04:07:58 AM PST

  •  [ clap, clap, clap ] (5+ / 0-)

    Nicely done. Once things settled down around here post-election, I had intended to write something similar. You've done a better job than I...

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:02:25 AM PST

  •  You make some good points, but... (0+ / 0-)

    Southern states tended to vote much more Republican than they normally do.  Pre-Obama, Missouri was usually somewhat of a swing state, but the lost both times. Romney won West Virginia by over 60%.  

  •  The reddest places (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gutterboy, SquirmyRooter

    are those where megachurches have a lock on the cultural and political landscape.  Granted many of those places are in the South, especially the rural South, but also the so-called "heartland".

    What this speaks to is a failure to understand rural life, and a willingness to give over rural counties to right wing religious organizers.  

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:46:46 AM PST

  •  Republished to Virginia KOS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, SquirmyRooter

    In honor of the state that just went blue as heaven.

    Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?

    by ConfusedSkyes on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:58:22 AM PST

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