Blacks and Prop 8

I haven’t really waded into the debate over the role African Americans played in passing Prop 8, mostly because I get tired of arguing data points to no one in particular, but since Ta-Nehisi asked, I’ll go ahead and break this report down from a political angle.

Now I don’t know what exactly prompted some people to latch onto the idea that black voters were uniquely pro-Prop 8, but thus far I haven’t really seen much data to back that up. Using this set, black voters went for Prop 8 at a clip of 58%, while Lationo voters supported it at 59%. So if we account for margin of error and declare parity between black and lation support, what becomes important is that Latinos made up twice as much of the electorate than did black voters. Which isn’t in any way meant to impune Latinos, so much sa it is to point out that there’s not really much of a variable in support based on race. Asian-American, for example, supported the measure 48% of the time, while white voters, who made up 68% of the electorate, supported it at a clip of 49%. Obviously those are lower than the balck and latino communities, but all in all they’re still pretty close to 50%, and there’s a fairly small discrepancy of support based on race.

This is important, because as a political strategist/organizer you want to find the demographic characteristic that creates the most discrepancy, because that’s most likely to be your  driving factor in determining your vote. And in this case, the driving factor is clearly the intensity of your religious beliefs. Voters who self-identify as being “weekly” church goers make up 45% of the California electorate, and support Prop 8 at a staggering 70%. No other frequency-of-attendance group cracks 50%, and both “holidays and special occassions” and “hardly ever” come in below 45%.

People looking for a case to make, as well as your run of the mill make believe strategists in the media an blogosphere will inevitably seek out the most “interesting” numbers to play up for headlines, but the truth of the matter is that these things usually just aren’t that interesting. Saying that fairly religious voters passed Prop 8 isn’t particularly surprising, so it’s not really interesting and it doesn’t make for very good stories or blog posts. But the simple reality is that, if I’m a strategist trying to pass Prop 8 with a fairly typical budget, my main targets are white people who go to church regularly. Not a particularly unusual insight or strategy, but in the real world these things rarely are.

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