Monday, March 14, 2016

Votes And Violence

There's a lot of speculation about where the voters are going this November, and pundits are looking at different scenarios--a game that's fun but mostly pointless.

An argument I've heard more than once is that violent racial unrest helps the GOP.  And now here's a piece by poli sci prof John Sides in The Washington Post with confirmation.  He quotes from findings of Omar Wasow, a professor at Princeton:

Examining county-level voting patterns, I find that black-led protests in which some violence occurs are associated with a statistically significant decline in Democratic vote-share in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 president elections.  Black-led nonviolent protests, but contrast, exhibit a statistically significant positive relationship with county-level Democratic vote-share in the same period.

Sides notes in his piece that what was true then isn't necessarily true today, and that the protests of the 60s were (so far) considerably bigger than the ones we're seeing today.  And I'm curious about how the study looks at things county by county--couldn't everyone, at least in the next county, if not state or nationwide, hear about the protests?  Then there's always the "correlation is not causation" problem.

But the odd thing is I've seen some Republicans use this sort of data to suggest they're in good shape.  Really?  Look at that study again--protests allegedly hurt Democrats in 1964.  This is the election where Lyndon Johnson got 61% of the popular vote. Imagine how well he'd done if the protestors had just kept quiet.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting- I would argue that the protects prior to the 1964 election were far less violent and than anything happened in the 8 years after- also the issues of the war and of hippies and the whole idea of the culture changing was more pronounced in 65 and after. That may also be the case today (though I don't think its anywhere as big) and also those seemingly upset by the culture changes are a smaller portion of the population. Plenty of opportunity for mayhem but don't see it as definitive.

6:20 AM, March 14, 2016  

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