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by inoljt

I’m Proud That Obama’s Campaign Never Attacked Romney’s Faith

4:29 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/
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The 2012 presidential election is over, and Barack Obama has been re-elected president. There’s a lot of analysis being done on the election, and this blog doesn’t have any real insightful things to add to that.

With that said, there is one thing that I’m very proud that the Obama campaign did – or rather, that it didn’t do. Obama’s campaign never attacked Mitt Romney’s faith.

Mitt Romney, as almost everybody in America knows by now, belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a very firm believer in the Lord, much more so than most politicians. Of course, all American presidential candidates insist on their Christian faith, but much of that is mere rhetoric. Mitt Romney actually walked the talk, probably more than any presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter.

And he suffered for this. Because in America there is still an element of bigotry against the LDS Church, which insists that members of the church are not “real” Christians. In the Republican primaries, for instance, evangelical southerners consistently rejected Romney.

Barack Obama could have used this in his campaign. He could have used coded religious appeals, of the type that Herbert Hoover used against Catholic Al Smith in the 1928 presidential campaign.

He didn’t. I never once heard Barack Obama say the word “Mormon.” Nor did I ever hear anybody in Obama’s campaign refer to Mormonism, no matter how obliquely. That’s something for which Obama and the Democratic Party ought to be very proud of.

Now, of course there are caveats to this. There was indeed a current of anti-Mormonism running through many Obama supporters. Here a liberal journalist, unaffiliated with Obama’s campaign, would sneak in a reference to Mormonism. There, Obama supporters would whisper (or sometimes shout) about how the LDS Church is racist. But Obama’s campaign itself shied away from such bigotry.

In addition, for most of the campaign Obama led in the polls. At no point was he ever losing the electoral college. It’s easy for a winning campaign to behave civil. What if Obama had been losing by five points in the popular vote and behind in all the swing states? The temptation to resort to attacks on Romney’s religion would have been much greater.

What form would such attacks have taken? A normal candidate probably would have made his own church and his own Christian faith a big and continuous theme in each of his speeches and during the presidential debates. This would have been an implicit contrast to Romney’s “non-Christian” Mormonism. Given Obama’s troubles with his own church, that path was probably not available to him. But there are other possibilities. A super-PAC formally unaffiliated with Obama’s campaign could have released an ad attacking Romney on abortion. This ad could have accused Romney, while head of an LDS branch in Massachusetts, of forcing women not to have abortions. A super-PAC ad could have been released accusing Romney of draft-dodging, bringing up Romney’s missionary work in France. There are a number of such ads which could have been run, all subtly bringing up the LDS church. Obama’s campaign would then deny any to connection the super-PAC running the ads.

Fortunately, Obama’s campaign never did that. He and his campaign stayed on the high road. They did what was right. For that they deserve an enormous amount of credit.

by inoljt

The Demographics of America’s Governors: Religion

1:07 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This post will look at the demographics of America’s governors by age, as of August 2012. All in all, this series on the demographics of America’s governors examines:

  • Religion

Outside of place of birth, this was the hardest category to get information on. Unlike race and gender, which are pretty obvious, your face doesn’t indicate which religion you are.

There are a lot of varying Protestant denominations in the United States, but there’s not much meaningful difference between them. There’s a much greater difference between Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons. I put all governors belonging to a Protestant denomination as merely Protestant, which simplifies things by a lot.

Sometimes governors, especially Republicans, talk about how much religion has guided them in the lives while never actually revealing their denomination. It takes a bit of searching to confirm that they’re actually Protestant. John Kasich and Rick Scott are good examples of this.

Other times it’s extremely unclear what religious affiliation a governor actually holds. Wikipedia indicates John Kitzhaber of Oregon as being “Other Christian,” but other sources indicate him as Jewish. I put him as Jewish (feel free to inform me if I’m wrong). Information is also very scarce on Peter Shumlin of Vermont, who apparently is Agnostic or Atheist.

In any case, my research led to the following map. The map below indicates the religion of each governor of the United States as of August 2012:

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America, unsurprisingly, is a country dominated by Protestants and Catholics. Combined the two account for the governors of 46 out of 50 states. 28 states are governed by Protestants, while 18 states are governed by Catholics.

Read the rest of this entry →

by inoljt

Looking at Romney’s Voting Coalition

6:39 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

It’s quite probable that Romney will be the person facing Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire have provided detailed exit polls of the Republican electorate. These paint a good picture of the coalition that Romney is assembling.

Of course, exit polls are notoriously unreliable. If exit polls were trustworthy, President John Kerry would just be completing his second term right now. Any exit poll thus ought to be taken with an enormous grain of salt.

Nevertheless, there are some patterns that are appearing pretty consistently in the exit polls of the Republican primaries. These are large enough to be of some note.

  • Romney’s support increases steadily as a voter’s age increases.
  • Similarly, support for Romney increases steadily as income increases.
  • Very conservative voters are not fans of Romney.
  • Neither are born-again Christians. Which is not to say that their support is nonexistent; plenty of born-again Christians are still voting for Romney.
  • Those with college degrees appear slightly more disposed to voting for Romney.
  • Similarly, so are Catholics.
  • There is one final pattern which the exit polls don’t show, but which also appears consistently in the results: rural voters do not like Romney. He has done the worst in the rural parts of Iowa and New Hampshire.

    Not all of these patterns occurred in the last 2008 Republican primaries. During 2008, for instance, very conservative voters gradually became the strongest supporters of Romney. In fact, while there are great similarities between the voters Romney is winning now and those he won in 2004, there are also substantial differences. These are fascinating enough to be the subject of another, much more detailed, post.

    Nor should one expect all these patterns to hold throughout the primary season. This is particularly true with respect to religion. In 2008 Catholics were more likely than Protestants to vote for Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire. In later states such as California and Florida, however, Protestants were more favorable to Romney than Catholics (this was true even counting only white Catholics and white Protestants). Why this is so is somewhat of a mystery.

    There is one very important consideration which has not appeared yet: race. So far, the voters in the 2012 Republican primary have been overwhelmingly white. Asians and blacks do not vote in Republican primaries in numbers large enough to be counted by exit polls. Hispanics, however, do. In 2008 Romney won 14% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, compared to the 31% he took statewide; he failed to break single digits amongst Cubans. It will be very revealing to see whether Romney can do better than that this year.

    Implications for the General Election

    Romney appears to do best in the more traditional wing of the Republican Party. His support is concentrated amongst the wealthier, more urbane voters in the party – the part of the party that is commonly represented by the sophisticated businessman. This, I know, will come as a shock to everybody who has been following politics these past few years.

    During the general election, Romney will probably do well in places filled with people of the above description. These include areas such as suburban Philadelphia and the northern exurbs of Atlanta. He may struggle to raise much excitement amongst the rural evangelical crowd, the red-hot conservatives who in bygone days voted loyally Democratic. Unfortunately for the president, these voters probably loathe Obama more than any other segment of the electorate.

    Probably most useful for a political analyst is the fact that Romney’s support increases in proportion to a voter’s wealth, age, and closeness to a major urban center. These are things about Romney’s coalition which political analysts haven’t known about before (especially the facts about voter income and age).

    It will be interesting to see if Romney’s coalition remains the same throughout the next few primaries, or whether it changes. Indeed, Romney’s coalition is actually somewhat different from the one he assembled in the 2008 Republican primaries. The next few posts will compare the exit polls from those primaries and those from the current primaries.

    They will examine:

    Iowa

    –inoljt

    by inoljt

    The Conservative Pope and the Secular Media

    2:24 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

    By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

    Over the past few weeks, the Catholic Church has found itself mired in controversy, plagued by an ever-growing sexual abuse scandal unfolding in Europe. The pope himself has come under substantial criticism, to such an extent that a leading German magazine titled a report, “The Failed Papacy of Benedict XVI.”

    Yet the media’s growing chorus of criticism reveals as much about itself as it does about the mishaps of Pope Benedict XVI. It reveals much about how the media thinks about itself, and about the media’s worldview of what society ought to be like.

    Historically, the Catholic Church and the Western media have always had moments of tension. The two are almost naturally at odds; their philosophical foundations constitute polar opposites. The church is fundamentally a conservative institution, hierarchy-bound and traditional. It embodies a force – religion – which often works in a conservative direction.

    The modern Western media could not be more different from this. If liberalism were to be characterized, describing the media could do the job well. The media sees itself as an agent of change, uncovering society’s injustices and working towards reform. Under this view, the world is consistently getting better, and media lies on the vanguard of the forces of progress. Religion, on the other hand, constitutes an obstacle standing in the path to a better world.

    To many holders of this belief (i.e. the media), Pope Benedict XVI is moving the church backwards in the 21st century. Unlike his predecessor, Benedict XVI is not considered a hero, nor is he adept at media relations (or particularly photogenic, for that matter). Instead, Benedict XVI is an intellectual traditionalist who spent much of his career attacking liberal reformists in the church before becoming pope.

    In many ways, therefore, the media’s negative coverage of the pope is not only due to the current sexual abuse scandal. Rather, it is a critique of everything the media dislikes about the pope – his conservative worldview, his reintroduction of the Tridentine Mass, his apathy towards dialogue with other religions, his lifting of Holocaust denier Richard Williamson’s excommunication, and his many writings condemning the forces of secularism which created the media.

    This is not to defend Pope Benedict XVI nor to attack the media. The church’s mishandling of the abuse scandal does indeed merit substantial criticism; its response has been defensive and clumsy. There is plenty of material to justify the media’s criticism; the cases of sexual abuse appear quite outrageous. On the church’s side, the pope’s traditionalist views are genuinely felt while his critiques against moral relativism are often quite legitimate.

    Rather, this is to look beneath the surface of the sexual abuse controversy. Its widespread negative coverage constitutes part of a deeper, long-standing conflict between a conservative church and a liberal media. It won’t be the last time the church and the media come into conflict.