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Virginia 2017 Election Provides Yet More Evidence that Voters “mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues”

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The following graphics, courtesy of VPAP, mostly reinforce what I’ve suspected for a long time: a) there is a strongly – albeit not 100% by any means – positive correlation between one’s race (in this case being white) and voting Republican; b) there’s also a strongly positive correlation between being Latino (I’m assuming that most non-English speakers in Virginia are Latino, with some Asian-Americans as well) and voting Democratic; c) there’s a moderately positive correlation between having a college education and voting Democratic; d) there seems to be minimal if any correlation between socioeconomic level and voting patterns.

Put it all together and I’d say this is more evidence that identity politics, not “the issues,” are largely what drives people’s voting behavior in this country. For more on this subject, I strongly recommend the book Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government, which “deploy[s] a wealth of social-scientific evidence” to “demonstrate that voters―even those who are well informed and politically engaged―mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues,” and that “voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties.” That’s certainly been my experience in politics — that people mostly choose their parties and/or candidates first (or actually, don’t really “choose” them at all, since the “choice” is overdetermined), then come up with arguments why everyone else should support those parties/candidates.

P.S. Just saw a tweet by Paul Krugman which is relevant to this article: “The central fact of U.S. political economy, the source of our exceptionalism, is that lower-income whites vote for politicians who redistribute income upward and weaken the safety net because they think the welfare state is for nonwhites 1/ Now, the truth is that they’re wrong: consider how much, say, West Virginia — a depressed state with a very white population — benefits from Medicaid and food stamps. Yet it voted overwhelmingly for Trump 2/ And by voting against its own interests, the white working class isn’t just making itself poorer, it’s literally killing itself 3/ Will this ever change? I have no idea. Things looking pretty good for Democrats this year, but it’s mainly because of nonwhite turnout and educated whites, especially white women. We shouldn’t give up on persuasion, but don’t expect miracles 4/”