Service Worker Centers

December 18, 2012
The election is behind them and the holidays are here, but Americans are in a dour mood about the future, particularly where the economy is concerned. More than half of them, 53%, think the country is headed in the “wrong direction” and more than a quarter, 28%, say they expect the economy will be worse next year than it is now, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. Those numbers won’t likely bring smiles to the White House, but what they actually mean and represent requires a little digging. Four years of economic ups and (mostly) downs seem to have taken a toll on the traditionally sunny American perspective. And, as one might expect, there is subdued enthusiasm for a year ahead that essentially returns an unpopular status quo to Washington to govern. But there are also deep partisan divides in evidence in this poll. And there is at least some evidence that those attitudes are having an exaggerated effect on how those people perceive the...
November 29, 2012
As the votes from the 2012 election have trickled in, the size of President Obama’s victory has grown – it’s now more than 4 million votes. That count should signify two things to Republicans who wanted to portray President Obama’s win as a squeaker. One, while this margin is no mandate, it is bigger than either of George W. Bush’s presidential wins in 2000 (in which he actually lost the popular vote) or 2004. Two, despite some GOP critiques that Mr. Obama won by capturing small slices of the electorate, the net result was a pretty broad win. But looked at through Patchwork Nation, there is one larger overriding concern for the Republicans in the 2012 election results: despite all the talk of minority voters and demographic segments, there are signs they are losing the political middle. That shift reveals itself when you look at the 2012 vote counts and margins compared to previous elections, particularly 2004, in the wealthy Monied Burbs, the...
November 6, 2012
As we have often noted here at Patchwork Nation, when you look at national elections at the county level it’s not usually about different types of communities swinging from one party to the other, it’s about changes in margins of support. As Election Day 2012 arrives that appears to be as true as ever. A Patchwork Nation analysis of two new surveys, coming in just before the polls open, finds complete agreement about which presidential candidate is going to win in each of our 12 county/community types. The differences in the numbers, from the Pew Research Center and the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, are in the margins. Some of those differences are big, but the end result of both seems to be the same, an edge to President Barack Obama. To be clear the numbers are not the same. Mr. Obama seems to be in better shape with the Pew figures – nationally he leads in that poll by 3 points and that lead manifests itself in the crucial Monied Burbs in their data. And Mr...
October 15, 2012
Every few years America’s major political parties get very interested in getting people registered to vote – or maybe more accurately, in getting the “right” people registered to vote. It’s a lot easier to come up with a winning hand on Election Day when the deck is stacked in your favor. So, for months now, supporters of President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have been knocking on doors and standing corners trying to register like-minded people. In a close election every vote may count, particularly in the swing states. To get an idea of who’s ahead in the registration game, Politics Counts looked at the tallies in key states where voters register as Democrats or Republicans – Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. We then compared those figures to previous voter registration counts in 2008 and 2004. Who’s winning? That depends on the state you look at and the...
October 10, 2012
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, unemployment has driven much of the national conversation, and with good reason. Even as the stock market has recovered, the struggles of ordinary Americans in the job market continues, with the latest unemployment report showing the jobless rate finally dipping below 8 percent for the first time since early 2009. But what does the unemployment conversation look like? While the national media and campaign rhetoric often boil the issue down to numbers or anecdotes, it is a much broader topic that carries with it a host of different concerns and fears in people — losing one's pension, losing one's home, losing one's future. To get an understanding of just how different those conversations are, the Jefferson Institute analyzed 20 months' worth of blogs, news stories and story comments in communities around the country, focusing on three crucial presidential swing states: Florida, Ohio and Virginia. We combed...
September 27, 2012
In a campaign full of notable unfortunate comments – from “you didn’t build that” to “the 47 percent” – Tuesday’s comments by a Romney campaign staffer that “we don't have to go in and package a message to different groups” seems like small potatoes. The comments from political director Rich Beeson sound high-minded. No niche targeting for them. They have one message about the economy for everyone and they don’t need the duplicitous practice of telling different groups what they want to hear. At least that’s one view. Patchwork Nation would argue it’s not the right one. We come today to speak in defense of niche messaging. Wrapped in Beeson’s statements are a few misunderstandings about American elections. Regardless of what he said, niche marketing is part of all modern campaigns. However,  in a broader sense, there is something of a “one message for all” approach in the...
September 18, 2012
Of all the news generated in Mitt Romney’s thought-to-be private comments from a fundraiser that surfaced Monday – and there was plenty of it – the most eye-catching element, from the perspective of Patchwork Nation, was how misguided the premise behind the comments was. In his comments Mr. Romney not only ignored some basic facts about the way people in different kinds of places actually vote, he also seemed to fundamentally misunderstand a crucial piece of his base, according to polls: social conservatives. Many different datasets were used to identify and differentiate Patchwork Nation’s 12 types of counties – everything from occupation to ethnicity to religious affiliation to, yes, income – and the numbers here are striking. When in the video Mr. Romney talks about 47 percent of the population that does not pay taxes, he is presumably speaking of less-wealthy households. And if you use income as your main divider of our 12 types, the...
September 17, 2012
By some measures, the U.S. unemployment-scape looks like it is locked in a very slow recovery. The August jobs number – 96,000 created – is nowhere what’s needed to shrink the unemployment rolls — and it follows after months of similarly anemic figures. But if you split the numbers differently, they actually look much worse. America’s public sector is still in a recession. In August 7,000 public sector jobs were lost and that follows 9,000 public sector jobs that were lost in July. Local government payrolls have been especially hard hit. Since 2009, more than 500,000 local government jobs have been lost. That’s fewer teachers in the classroom and fewer police and road crews on the streets. But maybe more important in an election year, it makes for real economic hardship as jobs and the economy dominate the political discussion. That economic pain has not been spread evenly, and the way it’s been spread may have real implications in...
September 6, 2012
CHARLOTTE, NC - This city may be filled with Democrats this week, but the border region offers some good news for Mitt Romney. As Patchwork Nation noted in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, drive just a half hour west on Interstate 85 and you will run into Gastonia (and Gaston County), where his support runs very deep. We can’t share that full piece on the Patchwork Nation site because the Journal charges a subscription fee. But a few of the most relevant paragraphs and points: In 2008, Mr. Obama won 62% of the vote in Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, on the way to carrying North Carolina by 0.3 percentage points. To win again, Mr. Obama is looking to Mecklenburg and other North Carolina counties like it—such as Wake and Durham—with similar growth, income levels and relatively high educational attainment. Mr. Obama's 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain, carried 62% of the vote in Gaston County, which includes Gastonia. But in 2004, then-...
August 31, 2012
With one convention down and one to go, the great game of bounce analysis is afoot. Over the next few days and weeks the media will scour polls to try to figure who “won” the political convention battle. The better question may be how much it all matters in the end. Conventions are important events in presidential campaigns. They provide each of the two major parties the chance to have the media largely to themselves and lay out their beliefs, as they see them, to the public. And they give the major candidates at least one night where can have an hour or so to speak directly to the American people in a presidential setting – or at least a semi-presidential setting, an arena filled with supporters cheering him on. And, as we noted on Thursday in this space, when you get inside the numbers using the geographic/demographic Patchwork Nationbreakdown of counties, there are some post-convention trends worth watching. In the coming weeks one critical...