The inside story

Posted: Nov 11, 2006 12:01 AM
The inside story

We aren't supposed to make any generalities based on race, color or creed, just to begin with. Invidious comparisons can be made, and indeed are every day made, by individuals. Still, institutions go to extraordinary lengths to avoid remarking differences. Indeed, many super-cautious universities even forbid applicants to submit photographs, on the basis of which an official at the Department of Admissions might say -- or whisper, or just think quietly -- that this applicant is black/Indian/Chinese ...

So what I want to know is: How is it that on page P-7 of The New York Times for Nov. 9, 2006, I can find out how many people voted Democratic and how many Republican, nationwide, among: whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians; men, women; 18- to 29-year-olds, 60 and older; didn't complete high school, did, some college, college graduate, postgraduate; Protestants, white Protestants, Catholics, white Catholics, Jews, white evangelicals; family income under $15,000, under $30,000, under $50,000, under $75,000, under $100,000, over $100,000; Easterners, Midwesterners, Southerners, Westerners; gays, lesbians, bisexuals.

Begin with truly sensitive questions, bearing on race, ethnicity, color.

What about Jewish voters? It is assumed, is it not, that cosmopolitan experience and education wipe out traditional tribal allegiances? Well, no group could be better educated and more cosmopolitan than the Jews, but they voted 88 percent Democratic.

Is it as easy as that Jews are especially well educated, and would incline to do the ... intelligent thing?

No. The least educated (did not complete high school) voted mostly (64 percent) Democratic. But the college graduates voted 50-50.

Surely we can assume a correlation between income and political affiliation?

Once again: Not quite. The poorest (family income under $15,000) did indeed go Democratic (69 percent). Those with incomes between $75,000 and $99,999 also went Democratic, though narrowly (52 percent). Only in the highest bracket ($100,000 and over) did Republicans edge out Democrats, 52 to 48 percent.

Suppose we look in on the black voters. They are right there with the Jews, 89 percent Democratic to 11 percent Republican. Compare Hispanics, 70 percent Democratic to 30 percent GOP, and Asians, 62 percent Democratic, 38 percent GOP. Only whites gave more votes to Republicans, 52 to 48 percent.

Another presumed great divide, age. There is a division, but it is not as deep as the divisions along racial and ethnic lines. The young people (18-29) voted Democratic, but only by 61 percent. That Democratic plurality reduced to 54 percent for voters 30 to 59 years old; and to just a couple of points (52 percent) among those who have attained or are approaching senior citizenship.

So then, with a couple of exceptions (Jews, blacks and Hispanics -- oh yes, and gay, lesbian or bisexual, who went 75 percent Democratic), you can get away with saying that the voters are pretty well mixed. This is so even geographically. The Democrats prevailed in the East by 64 percent, Midwest by 53 percent and West by 56 percent. In the South, Republicans led by 54 percent.

You can pick and ponder as you will, with discrete findings, e.g., Catholics went 56 percent Democratic, Protestants 55 percent Republican. There presumably exists somewhere a table that gives you the progression of these different groups over the past 50 years. But if so, it is hard to find. We have walked back into see-no-evil land.