Andrew Sullivan’s Tomfoolery about Obama, Race and the Confederacy

Andrew Sullivan is hoping for attention. That’s the best I can assume.

Who is Andrew Sullivan? He is a writer for the Daily Beast and a columnist for the (London) Sunday Times. He purports to be a Conservative but at many turns, that appears to be questionable.

What’s the deal with Sullivan?

He has advanced a theory about the white ‘Mitt’ vote being the new Confederacy, “I think America is currently in a Cold Civil War. The parties, of course, have switched sides since the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The party of the Union and Lincoln is now the Democratic party. The party of the Confederacy is now the GOP. And racial polarization is at record levels, with whites entirely responsible for reversing Obama’s 2008 inroads into the old Confederacy in three Southern states. You only have to look at the electoral map in 1992 and 1996, when Clinton won, to see how the consolidation of a Confederacy-based GOP and a Union-based Democratic party has intensified – and now even more under a black president from, ahem, Illinois.”

That’s quite a statement. In Sullivan’s eyes, the South’s gonna do it again.

Andrew must not spend much time in the South these days. According the Henry Louis Gates online portal, The Root, quoting an African American reverse migrator, “Racial progress has been made…that’s not to say the South still doesn’t have a long ways to go. But in certain respects, the South is ahead of the North.”

When Sullivan advanced his new theory, he was eviscerated by George Will on ABC’s This Week by Will stating that this Confederacy theory was ”empirically false” and that it was also “checkable and false”.

Andrew Sullivan’s defense? A map of the Confederate states and a map of the states that are leaning Romney. That’s it. Maps.

Data? In the response to Will via Sullivan’s his blog, Andrew stated, “I am not saying…that the only states that will switch from Obama to Romney this year were Confederate states. Indiana is the exception. I was saying that if Obama loses North Carolina, Virginia and Florida – which I suspect he will – then the 2012 map will more closely resemble the civil war map than 2008, when the same pattern was striking.”

Two maps?

This is a Single Cause Logical Fallacy. Or simply stated, an oversimplification.

We should note the state (Indiana) that may switch to Romney was cast aside in Sullivan’s theory. How selective. It must be for non-racial reasons?

Or by adding it in, it kills Sullivan’s map theory.

Sullivan’s published defense, of course, has a distinct lack of data. More over, a lack of data where a glut of information exists. Otherwise known as polling.

To be clear, where Sullivan is right, the 2012 election is turning back gains among white voters gained by the Democratic Party in 2008.

From Gallup, in 2012, 37% of voters are anticipated to vote for Democrat Obama. In 2008, 44% voted for then Candidate Obama. A net loss of 7%.

Mr. Sullivan’s assertion regarding the loss of white voters from 2012 is specifically, empirically correct. The question begs; does this data exist as an anomaly amongst all voters or more pointedly, among African Americans?

It is not an anomaly. In 2008, African Americans leaned Obama 99%. Understandable. The message was positive and the candidate was the culmination of a long struggle.

Still, we need the 2012 comparative. What is the current polling for African Americans? The current 2012 data indicates 90% of Registered African American voters indicate Obama.

A net loss of 9%. To be clear, and repetitive, that’s a 9% loss. As a side note, 1% of African Americans voted for McCain on ’08 and in 2012, trending is 5% for Romney.

If you only look at the data for white voters, the data could be used to support a shift and a causal connection of race would be suggested. Though weakly so. Actually using empirical data and context, Andrew Sullivan simply has no case. Just maps.

The so-called ‘Classic Conservative’ has fallen victim the the lure of racial demagoguery. All for the hope of liberal popularity and for a cute little ploy of asserting that the GOP is the new Confederacy. Perhaps this will become the new-style version of Godwin’s Law.

Cross posted at The Rightward Journal