Thursday, April 17, 2008

# Posted 10:20 AM by Patrick Porter  

CLINGING TO GUNS AND RELIGION: There doesn't seem anything intrinsically offensive in Obama's remarks about the political ecology of small towns. But it might be empirically wrong.

Getting fired up about wedge issues at election time might not be what struggling folk from small towns do more than others.

According to Larry Bartels, it is college-educated urbanites who are far more attached to social issues when it comes to their voting behaviour:

Small-town people of modest means and limited education are not fixated on cultural issues. Rather, it is affluent, college-educated people living in cities and suburbs who are most exercised by guns and religion. In contemporary American politics, social issues are the opiate of the elites.

Moreover, it is Ivy-League educated Presidential candidates, both Hillary and Obama, who see small-town America in this distorting way. Hillary by pandering to it, and Obama by despairing of it.
(4) opinions -- Add your opinion

You don't see anything offensive about the generalizations and assumptions of Obama towards people who live in small towns and the obviously patronizing way he epxressed it? And to the extent they are true (particualrly religion and gun rights), you don't see anything offensive about his labelling some of their most cherished values a soul sickness caused by helplessness?

Larry Bartels is probably right in so far as this stuff is a form of identity politics, which is more the stomping ground of the liberal elite, but whether small town people vote on these issues is besides the point. Many will take offense at being insulted and that offense will show up in the voting booth. Maybe not in November throughout the country, but next week in Pennsylvania.

Welcome back, BTW. Good to see you posting again. Don't be a stranger.
Cheers, nice to be back.

I don't see much wrong in suggesting the theory that when people in small towns are distressed by economic slump, they hold things like guns and faith more sacred, and that illegal immigration gets more of their attention.

In other words, their identity sharpens when they think it is under siege by poverty, the government or outsiders.

What really interests me is whether in fact it is true. As it turns out, probably not.

You are right though, that once Clinton/McCain are finished with him, Obama will be presented as a lofty elitist and this will hurt him electorally.
So long as he doesn't make a mistake like this again, I don't think it will hurt him much come November. I think party loyalty will trump any residual anger by that time.

But right now I think the Democrats' worst convention nightmare is almost guaranteed. Obama will come in with the popular vote and the most committed delegates, but will have lost every major state except his own and probably will have lost by a wide margin in Pennsylvania, the last of the big states. They will be faced with the choice of either nominating the fading candidate or undermining the whole process by nominating the one that lost the primary.
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