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  • I want to talk about the election.

  • For the first time in the United States, a predominantly white group of voters

  • voted for an African-American candidate for President.

  • And in fact Barack Obama did quite well.

  • He won 375 electoral votes.

  • And he won about 70 million popular votes

  • more than any other presidential candidate --

  • of any race, of any party -- in history.

  • If you compare how Obama did against how John Kerry had done four years earlier --

  • Democrats really like seeing this transition here,

  • where almost every state becomes bluer, becomes more democratic --

  • even states Obama lost, like out west,

  • those states became more blue.

  • In the south, in the northeast, almost everywhere

  • but with a couple of exceptions here and there.

  • One exception is in Massachusetts.

  • That was John Kerry's home state.

  • No big surprise, Obama couldn't do better than Kerry there.

  • Or in Arizona, which is John McCain's home,

  • Obama didn't have much improvement.

  • But there is also this part of the country, kind of in the middle region here.

  • This kind of Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, West Virginia region.

  • Now if you look at '96, Bill Clinton --

  • the last Democrat to actually win -- how he did in '96,

  • you see real big differences in this part of the country right here,

  • the kind of Appalachians, Ozarks, highlands region, as I call it:

  • 20 or 30 point swings

  • from how Bill Clinton did in '96 to how Obama did

  • in 2008.

  • Yes Bill Clinton was from Arkansas, but these are very, very profound differences.

  • So, when we think about parts of the country like Arkansas, you know.

  • There is a book written called, "What's the Matter with Kansas?"

  • But really the question here -- Obama did relatively well in Kansas.

  • He lost badly but every Democrat does.

  • He lost no worse than most people do.

  • But yeah, what's the matter with Arkansas?

  • (Laughter)

  • And when we think of Arkansas we tend to have pretty negative connotations.

  • We think of a bunch of rednecks, quote, unquote, with guns.

  • And we think people like this probably don't want to vote

  • for people who look like this and are named Barack Obama.

  • We think it's a matter of race. And is this fair?

  • Are we kind of stigmatizing people from Arkansas, and this part of the country?

  • And the answer is: it is at least partially fair.

  • We know that race was a factor, and the reason why we know that

  • is because we asked those people.

  • Actually we didn't ask them, but when they conducted

  • exit polls in every state,

  • in 37 states, out of the 50,

  • they asked a question, that was pretty direct, about race.

  • They asked this question.

  • In deciding your vote for President today, was the race

  • of the candidate a factor?

  • We're looking for people that said, "Yes, race was a factor;

  • moreover it was an important factor, in my decision,"

  • and people who voted for John McCain

  • as a result of that factor,

  • maybe in combination with other factors, and maybe alone.

  • We're looking for this behavior among white voters

  • or, really, non-black voters.

  • So you see big differences in different parts

  • of the country on this question.

  • In Louisiana, about one in five white voters

  • said, "Yes, one of the big reasons why I voted against Barack Obama

  • is because he was an African-American."

  • If those people had voted for Obama,

  • even half of them, Obama would have won Louisiana safely.

  • Same is true with, I think, all of these states you see on the top of the list.

  • Meanwhile, California, New York, we can say, "Oh we're enlightened"

  • but you know, certainly a much lower incidence of this

  • admitted, I suppose,

  • manifestation of racially-based voting.

  • Here is the same data on a map.

  • You kind of see the relationship between

  • the redder states of where more people responded and said,

  • "Yes, Barack Obama's race was a problem for me."

  • You see, comparing the map to '96, you see an overlap here.

  • This really seems to explain

  • why Barack Obama did worse

  • in this one part of the country.

  • So we have to ask why.

  • Is racism predictable in some way?

  • Is there something driving this?

  • Is it just about some weird stuff that goes on in Arkansas

  • that we don't understand, and Kentucky?

  • Or are there more systematic factors at work?

  • And so we can look at a bunch of different variables.

  • These are things that economists and political scientists look at all the time --

  • things like income, and religion, education.

  • Which of these seem to drive

  • this manifestation of racism

  • in this big national experiment we had on November 4th?

  • And there are a couple of these that have

  • strong predictive relationships,

  • one of which is education,

  • where you see the states with the fewest years of schooling

  • per adult are in red,

  • and you see this part of the country, the kind of Appalachians region,

  • is less educated. It's just a fact.

  • And you see the relationship there

  • with the racially-based voting patterns.

  • The other variable that's important is

  • the type of neighborhood that you live in.

  • States that are more rural --

  • even to some extent of the states like New Hampshire and Maine --

  • they exhibit a little bit of

  • this racially-based voting against Barack Obama.

  • So it's the combination of these two things: it's education

  • and the type of neighbors that you have,

  • which we'll talk about more in a moment.

  • And the thing about states like Arkansas and Tennessee

  • is that they're both very rural,

  • and they are educationally impoverished.

  • So yes, racism is predictable.

  • These things, among maybe other variables,

  • but these things seem to predict it.

  • We're going to drill down a little bit more now,

  • into something called the General Social Survey.

  • This is conducted by the University of Chicago

  • every other year.

  • And they ask a series of really interesting questions.

  • In 2000 they had particularly interesting questions

  • about racial attitudes.

  • One simple question they asked is,

  • "Does anyone of the opposite race live in your neighborhood?"

  • We can see in different types of communities that the results are quite different.

  • In cites, about 80 percent of people

  • have someone whom they consider a neighbor of another race,

  • but in rural communities, only about 30 percent.

  • Probably because if you live on a farm, you might not have a lot of neighbors, period.

  • But nevertheless, you're not having a lot of interaction with people

  • who are unlike you.

  • So what we're going to do now is take the white people in the survey

  • and split them between those who have black neighbors --

  • or, really, some neighbor of another race --

  • and people who have only white neighbors.

  • And we see in some variables

  • in terms of political attitudes, not a lot of difference.

  • This was eight years ago, some people were more Republican back then.

  • But you see Democrats versus Republican,

  • not a big difference based on who your neighbors are.

  • And even some questions about race -- for example

  • affirmative action, which is kind of a political question,

  • a policy question about race, if you will --

  • not much difference here.

  • Affirmative action is not very popular frankly, with white voters, period.

  • But people with black neighbors and people with mono-racial neighborhoods

  • feel no differently about it really.

  • But if you probe a bit deeper and get a bit more personal if you will,

  • "Do you favor a law banning interracial marriage?"

  • There is a big difference.

  • People who don't have neighbors of a different race

  • are about twice as likely

  • to oppose interracial marriage as people who do.

  • Just based on who lives in your immediate neighborhood around you.

  • And likewise they asked, not in 2000, but in the same survey in 1996,

  • "Would you not vote for a qualified black president?"

  • You see people without neighbors who are African-American who

  • were much more likely to say, "That would give me a problem."

  • So it's really not even about urban versus rural.

  • It's about who you live with.

  • Racism is predictable. And it's predicted by

  • interaction or lack thereof with people unlike you, people of other races.

  • So if you want to address it,

  • the goal is to facilitate interaction with people of other races.

  • I have a couple of very obvious, I suppose,

  • ideas for maybe how to do that.

  • I'm a big fan of cities.

  • Especially if we have cites that are diverse and sustainable,

  • and can support people of different ethnicities and different income groups.

  • I think cities facilitate more of the kind of networking,

  • the kind of casual interaction than you might have on a daily basis.

  • But also not everyone wants to live in a city, certainly not a city like New York.

  • So we can think more about things like street grids.

  • This is the neighborhood where I grew up in East Lansing, Michigan.

  • It's a traditional Midwestern community, which means you have real grid.

  • You have real neighborhoods and real trees, and real streets you can walk on.

  • And you interact a lot with your neighbors --

  • people you like, people you might not know.

  • And as a result it's a very tolerant community,

  • which is different, I think, than something like this,

  • which is in Schaumburg, Illinois,

  • where every little set of houses has their own cul-de-sac

  • and drive-through Starbucks and stuff like that.

  • I think that actually this type of urban design,

  • which became more prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s --

  • I think there is a relationship between that and the country becoming

  • more conservative under Ronald Reagan.

  • But also here is another idea we have --

  • is an intercollegiate exchange program

  • where you have students going from New York abroad.

  • But frankly there are enough differences within the country now

  • where maybe you can take a bunch of kids from NYU,

  • have them go study for a semester at the University of Arkansas,

  • and vice versa. Do it at the high school level.

  • Literally there are people who might be in school in Arkansas or Tennessee

  • and might never interact in a positive affirmative way

  • with someone from another part of the country, or of another racial group.

  • I think part of the education variable we talked about before

  • is the networking experience you get when you go to college

  • where you do get a mix of people that you might not interact with otherwise.

  • But the point is, this is all good news,

  • because when something is predictable,

  • it is what I call designable.

  • You can start thinking about solutions to solving that problem,

  • even if the problem is pernicious and as intractable as racism.

  • If we understand the root causes of the behavior

  • and where it manifests itself and where it doesn't,

  • we can start to design solutions to it.

  • So that's all I have to say. Thank you very much.

  • (Applause)

I want to talk about the election.

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【TED】Nate Silver: How does race affect votes?

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    kimkon1108 posted on 2015/12/23
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