Obama Lost Confederacy
Several folks are picking up on this Strange Maps overlay of cotton production in 1860 and the voting patterns in this month’s presidential contest between Barack Obama and John McCain:
While the title “From Pickin’ Cotton to Pickin’ Presidents” is rather amusing, it’s precisely wrong. Indeed, the Strange Maps blogger makes this clear:
The link between these two maps is not causal, but correlational, and the correlation is African-Americans. Once they were the slaves on whom the cotton economy had to rely for harvesting. Despite an outward migration towards the Northern cities, their settlement pattern now still closely corresponds to that of those days.
During the Democratic primary, many African-American voters supported Hillary Clinton, thinking it unlikely Barack Obama would win the nomination, let alone the presidency. When it became apparent that Obama had a good shot at the nomination (and thereafter at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue itself), their support for Obama became near monolithic. As it turns out, president-elect Obama won with the an overall support of 53%, but that includes over 90% of black voters (1).
Andrew Sullivan links without comment and Steve Bainbridge observes, in a post entitled “Obama won the Cotton Belt,” “As much as Obama’s policy positions pain me, this final comeuppance for the Confederate traitors and vindication of the rights of their slaves pleases me greatly.”
Yes, black descendants of former slaves voted for a half-black descendant of people who could have owned slaves and people who might have sold their own kind into slavery. Then again, they have historically voted for the Democrat, regardless of skin color and heritage, anyway. And the white Republican carried most of these states, as usual.
Were the last two presidential elections — and 7 of the last 10 — in which the Republicans won vindication of the Confederates who lost the fight for national sovereignty and a comeuppance for the former slaves who had full voting and citizenship rights in each of those elections? If the GOP wins again in the future — or, heaven forfend, beats Obama in 2012 — will it signal that the South has in fact risen again and that holding onto that Confederate currency was prudent advice after all?
And what of the 0-for-2 streak of national tickets featuring female vice presidential nominees? Were they a slap in the face of the suffragettes and a not-so-subtle message to get back into the damn kitchen?
Or is ascribing deep-seated historical motivations to elections decided over peculiar circumstances and personalties rather silly?