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“A Legacy Of The Old Democratic Pre-Civil Rights South”: Reagan Democrats Of Kentucky, Oklahoma And West Virginia

To no one’s surprise, Bernie Sanders won the Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia yesterday and has so far picked up 16 delegates to Clinton’s 11. While that is not enough to change the trajectory of the race, it produced some interesting information.

As exit polls were released, there was some surprise in a couple of categories. Thirty-five percent of voters in the Democratic primary plan to vote for Donald Trump in the general election. Of those, 63% voted for Sanders. Similarly, a plurality of voters (41%) want the next president to be less liberal than Obama. Of those, 51% voted for Sanders.

Initially pundits attempted to ascribe these results to Clinton’s remarks in March about how she’d “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” But given that Sanders’ position on coal is the same as Clinton’s, that doesn’t seem plausible. Rye Spaeth provided some information that is probably more pertinent.

“No state has lower approval ratings for the president than West Virginia,” Philip Bump pointed out in February. And unlike embattled Democrats in West Virginia, Clinton has embraced Obama’s legacy and diverse coalition.

It is also worth noting that the population of West Virginia is 93% non-Hispanic white.

Nate Cohn provides some data suggesting that Reagan Democrats (a term that has been dismissed by a lot of people, including me) are actually a large part of the electorate in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky (which holds its primary next Tuesday).

Coal County, Okla., is one of the most extreme examples. There, 80 percent of voters are registered Democrats, yet President Obama won just 27 percent of the vote in 2012. Mrs. Clinton has performed very poorly where the share of voters who are registered Democrats is much greater than the share of voters who supported Mr. Obama…

These conservative Democrats are a legacy of the old Democratic strength among white voters in the South, where many white conservatives nonetheless remain registered as Democrats.

Cohn provided this map to demonstrate.

The conservative registered Democrats helping Sanders have helped him elsewhere, especially Oklahoma

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) May 11, 2016

These voters have tended to remain registered as Democrats and support local candidates like Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia. But they mostly resemble white Democrats of the pre-Civil Rights South. When it comes to presidential elections, they ensure that their states are firmly red. That’s a pretty classic definition of the term Reagan Democrat.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 11, 2016

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Big Coal, Reagan Democrats | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Company Vote”: Republican Bully Bosses Threaten Democracy

The Company Store, a pre-union institution wherein underpaid workers were all but required to buy items from a shop owned by their employer, is thankfully gone. The 21st century version is far more insidious: the Company Vote.

There were the coal miners in Ohio who were required to attend a rally for Mitt Romney—without pay, even though they had been taken off the job to do it. Footage of the rally was used in a Romney TV ad. Bizarrely, Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore explained that the miners were required to come, except that they weren’t. He told a local radio station:

We had managers that communicated [to employees] that the attendance was mandatory. But no one was forced to attend the event.

The New Republic later reported an even worse transgression—that Moore, a Romney donor, had pressured the company’s workers to donate to the Republican nominee.

And if pressure doesn’t work, try threats. That’s what David Siegel, the billionaire owner of a massive time-share company, did in a memo to employees, in which he stated:

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. You see, I can longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities.

If Siegel’s name sound familiar, it’s because he’s in the movies—showcasing his greed, not displaying his talent. Siegel and his wife—who perfects the Real Housewives technique of looking like she spends a great deal of money to look cheap—are the subjects of the acclaimed The Queen of Versailles, a documentary film about the couple’s efforts to build the largest privately-owned home in the country. That displays a level of self-centeredness and insecurity that is almost clinical in scale. But Siegel’s effort to intimidate workers is appalling.

Remarkably, Siegel told Reuters that his firm was doing quite well during the recession—he told the news agency his company, Westgate, was the most profitable it had been in its 30-year history, was hiring 1,500 new employees this year, and that banks were “throwing money at us.”

And yet, Siegel was more foreboding in his memo to workers, saying:

The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration.

There’s a serious threat here, but it’s not to Siegel’s obscene wealth and even more profane greed. The threat is to representative democracy. Siegel’s a successful businessman, and he’s entitled to do (mostly) what he wants with his money—perhaps even building monuments to himself. He is not entitled to extort votes.


By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, October 11, 2012

October 12, 2012 Posted by | Democracy, Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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