Minority Central

March 13, 2012
At first glance, the polls leading into the next set of Republican primaries -- a less "super" set of four primaries and caucuses on Tuesday -- look a bit baffling, and that's particularly true for Mississippi and Alabama. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is challenging in both states and that seems difficult for some to believe. After all, Romney has struggled with lower-income voters and more evangelicals. The answer lies in those states' makeup. While it may be tempting to simply think of Mississippi and Alabama as two states in the Deep South, that misses a lot of the subtle -- and not-so-subtle -- differences in them. Those differences are magnified by this GOP presidential field and they can be better understood using Patchwork Nation's] geographic/demographic breakdown of county types. ALABAMA'S MORE COMPLICATED MAP Of the two neighboring Southern states, Alabama has a more diverse and balanced map than Mississippi. Look at the map below...
March 2, 2012
Two months in, the 2012 battle for the Republican presidential nomination has become a more protracted fight than many had expected or wanted. But as analysts wonder what the drawn-out fight means, a critical point has been lost. The current scenario, with a fractured base on display, is not really surprising. In fact, in some ways it is the most obvious outcome. The Republican Party’s triumph in the 2010 midterms was a measure of Republican antipathy toward President Barack Obama, but not a statement about what the party stands for. And now, as the Republican Party searches for consensus, there are structural factors pushing its back-and-forth nominating fight. First, the party is trying to redefine itself. Without a president or a strong leader at its top, the various factions within the party are using the primaries to have a very public argument about its direction. Second, the way most of the primaries have divvied up convention delegates up to now –...
February 29, 2012
There have been more than a few twists and turns on the road to this year’s Republican presidential nomination, but one tried-and-true 2012 GOP storyline reemerged in Michigan on Tuesday night: Mitt Romney’s strength lies in wealthy communities and he has trouble most everywhere else. Out of Michigan there has been talk about things like Democratic voter hijinks, absentee voters and older voters, but when you really look at the results using Patchwork Nation, the dominant story remains one of wealthy, educated communities versus lower-income blue-collar ones. Using Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown of county types, former Massachusetts Gov. Romney won all the types that tend to be better educated and better off – the Monied Burbs, Boom Towns, Industrial Metropolis and Campus and Careers counties. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won all the other county types – the Emptying Nests, Evangelical Epicenters, Service Worker...
February 28, 2012
There are two primaries Tuesday, but the majority of the attention is going to be on the Michigan primary where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has surprisingly found himself in a real fight with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rock Santorum. Watch the Michigan Primary results come in live using Patchwork Nation's county breakdown HERE on WNYC'S site - polls close at 8pm Arizona also holds a contest, but the ballots have been streaming in for weeks there under that state’s rules and based on polling the belief is Romney has an insurmountable lead. Michigan, however, is Romney’s “home state” – or at least where he was born – and it was assumed it would be safe territory for him. He won Michigan in 2008, beating Sen. John McCain by 9 percentage points. That was a long time ago and Romney is in a very different campaign now. First, in 2008 Romney ran as the conservative alternative to McCain, that is territory Santorum has staked...
February 12, 2012
One of the early disappointments of Governor Bobby Jindal's first term was an ethics reform package that generated great headlines but lacked an effective enforcement mechanism.  The PR effort was nonetheless important as Louisiana has - much to its detriment - long suffered from an image as a corrupt backwater. The passage ethics reform with a strong PR push helped to change those perceptions and subsequently made Louisiana's economic development efforts more competitive.   Even so, the weakness of the reform package left many critics (myself included) disappointed with the disconnect between the policy's substance and its PR. I noted in a previous post that Governor Jindal's second term appears to be committed to bolder action and substantive policy shifts. His most recent move on ethics reform - clarifying the responsibilities of the ethics board and strengthening enforcement - is further evidence to this point.  Another positive sign and...
February 5, 2012
Now entering his second term, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal remains one of the nation’s most fascinating politicians. His reelection campaign in 2011 was a tour de force, a textbook study in how to run for reelection. Raise large sums of money, deter serious opposition, control your message, and take nothing for granted. In what may be his most understated achievement, he deflated Louisiana politics of its raucous carnival-like atmosphere and won easily in a “boring” election.  Indeed, with the outcome largely a foregone conclusion, only 37.4% of Louisiana’s voting age population bothered casting a ballot, a sign perhaps of both contentment and apathy. Despite his political success, however, there remains lingering criticisms from his first term. Jealously guarding his approval ratings and with his eyes focused squarely on national politics, he was too often cautious and risk averse.  With an incredible reservoir of political capital following...
January 23, 2012
Just like that, the Republican presidential race feels changed. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t just win in South Carolina, he won everywhere across the state. Looking at the results through Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown, Mr. Gingrich could not have done much better. There are five county types in South Carolina and Mr. Gingrich won them all – the wealthy Monied Burbs, the culturally conservative Evangelical Epicenters, the Military Bastions with many soldiers and veterans, the Boom Towns that grew rapidly in the last decade and the Minority Central counties with larger African-American populations. This map from WNYC shows how the vote went county-by-county in South Carolina using Patchwork Nation’s county types. In some ways, the numbers aren’t a shock. Going into the vote, most analysts talked about how different South Carolina is from New Hampshire where former...
January 11, 2012
Mitt Romney had a lot of advantages going into New Hampshire – from residency to voter demographics – and in the end it all showed up on Tuesday night. It was an impressive win. The former Massachusetts governor won nine of the state’s 10 counties. He won a larger percentage of the vote than he or Sen. John McCain won in 2008 – 39 percent to 37 percent for McCain. And using Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown of counties, he won in all of the state’s county types from the wealthy Monied Burbs to the small town Service Worker Centers. The meaning for the nominating process has already been hashed over and over. In winning both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary, Romney has pulled off a trick no non-incumbent GOP presidential candidate has even done. He looks well-prepared for the votes to come down the road in South Carolina and Florida this month and probably for the nomination. But the potentially bigger message...
January 11, 2012
Mitt Romney’s New Hampshire win was unsurprising but nevertheless significant.  Not only does he become the first Republican non-incumbent to win in both Iowa and New Hampshire, he moves one step closer to securing the Republican nomination. First, public opinion polls in South Carolina and Florida now show Romney with a comfortable lead. The most recent numbers from South Carolina (conducted from January 5 – January 7) put Romney up by 7 points.  In Florida, polling data shows Romney with a 12 point  lead.  Polling from before Romney’s eight vote Iowa victory showed Gingrich significantly ahead in South Carolina and Gingrich and Romney in a dead heat in Florida. Mitt Romney is now well-positioned to win in both states. Second, while much has been made about the not-Romney vote in this cycle, it has yet to coalesce around a single candidate. Rick Santorum’s second place finish in Iowa is unlikely to be replicated,...
December 27, 2011
Barack Obama has not had an easy ride as president. He took office as the economy was collapsing on many fronts -- spikes in home foreclosures and unemployment -- and the tone of the political debate, which was already harsh, has only grown more contentious. His approval rating plummeted. And yet going into 2012, the president is not in a bad place electorally. Polls show he's essentially running even with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one potential re-election rival, in head-to-head match-ups and doing much better against the rest of the GOP field. And as the calendar gets ready to flip over into the political hot season, Patchwork Nation sees the president actually doing well in the counties that matter most, according to an analysis of Pew Research Center polls from August to December. The percentage of voters approving of his performance sits above the percentage disapproving in four of Patchwork Nation's geographic/demographic breakdown of 12 county types...