“Mathematicians won the war. Mathematicians broke the Japanese codes, and built the A-bomb. Mathematicians . . . like you. The stated goal of the Soviets is global Communism. In medicine or economics, in technology or space, battle lines are being drawn. To triumph, we need results: publishable, applicable results. Now who among you will be the next Morse? The next Einstein? Who among you will be the vanguard of democracy, freedom, and discovery? Today, we bequeath America’s future into your able hands.”
—Judd Hirsch as Helinger in A Beautiful Mind
I said last Wednesday I didn’t want to get into the deep weeds trying to break down the numbers on what happened Tuesday night. There are plenty of theories out there, from a strong Hispanic vote, to a weak Republican base turnout, to Hurricane Sandy, etc. etc. I don’t have the strength for it, and I’m too many decades removed from college for that sort of detailed political science statistical analysis. And in any event, it won’t change the result.
That said, I did see something I thought was interesting. I don’t know what I make of it, but follow me on a little mathematical exercise here.
The AP had Obama taking 61,212,519 votes out of a total of 119,413,147. The black vote made up 13% of the total electorate, meaning black voters cast 15,523,709 ballots, using the AP’s numbers. Obama took 93% of those votes, or a total of 14,437,049 votes.
Now, my original thought in looking at this was I assumed we’d see Obama capturing what seems like an impossibly skewed percentage of the black vote, which would indicate raw racism (i.e., blacks voting for the black candidate because he’s black). The truth is, 93% isn’t far removed from the 95% of the black vote Obama garnered in 2008, and isn’t all that different from the 88% John Kerry (who is definitely not black) got in 2004, or the 90% Al Gore (who isn’t black but may have invented it) got in 2000. I don’t see anything to be made there.
But here’s what I thought was interesting.
We saw above that the math indicates about 15.5 million black votes were cast. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 there were 38.6 million blacks in the U.S. Of them, only 27.2 million were of voting age. Now, I understand that that data is a couple of years old, but I can’t imagine the numbers changed all that much in two years. So we’re talking about squeezing 15.5 million votes out of what is about a 27 million population.
Rusty, what’s the big deal?
Well, here’s the rub. We were bombarded over the last two years with studies, reports, and complaints about how the rules were rigged in such a way to suppress black voting.
- We’re told that, because of a racist criminal justice system, 7.7% of blacks are felons and thus ineligible to vote. That’s about 2.1 million, using the 2010 census figures.
- We’re told that as many as 25% of blacks lacked sufficient I.D. to comply with racist voter I.D. laws—the Brennan Center says that’s 5.5 million people, but using the Census figures it’s more like 6.8 million who, according to the victim panderers and race-baiters, were at risk of not being able to vote this year.
- As September of this year—too late in most circles to correct the problem—reports had the NAACP saying that another 6 million blacks were eligible to vote, but simply hadn’t registered.
As an initial point, let me say that all this complaining about racist voter suppression is interesting, when we see that blacks, who make up 12% of the population, actually made up 13% of the electorate. If The Man is conspiring to reinstate Jim Crow-style suppression of the black vote, I submit it isn’t working.
But back to our exercise. Taking these various complaints I listed above more or less at face value, what does that do to our 2012 electoral math?
Well, we started with a total possible black voting population of about 27.2 million. Subtract from that the roughly 2.1 million felons and you have 25.1 million. The Left’s complaint that between 5.5 million and 6.8 million blacks were adversely affected by voter I.D. laws is patently bogus, but let’s give them credit for 1 million kept home because they didn’t have the same I.D. needed to collect welfare; that drops your voting population from 25.1 million to 24.1 million. Then you back out the 6 million the NAACP says weren’t registered, and suddenly you’re down to a total voting population of only 18.1 million.
15.5 million votes out of a voting population of 18.1 million. That’s an astonishing 85% turnout.
And there’s the problem.
Voter turnout nationally in the U.S. in modern times is normally between 50 and 55%, and has trended steadily downward since 1960. Black turnout is normally a couple of points below the national average, although in 2008 it was a couple of points above the national figure at right at 60%. Even if voting enthusiasm in the black community was up from 2008—and every indication heading into Tuesday was that it wasn’t, and total turnout was considerably lower than 2008—that doesn’t explain an 85% figure. And even if we assume that, say, half of the 6 million who were unregistered according to the NAACP not only managed to correct that, but also to show up and vote, you’re still talking about a total voting population of only 21.1 million, which would mean a 74% turnout.
20 to 25 points (about 50%) more than normal, and 14 points above even 2008. That is, assuming much of what the race-baiters and fearmongers would have you believe is true.
Make of it what you will. I just thought you should know.
Yesterday (November 11) was Veteran’s Day, although the federal government will celebrate it today. To those of you who have served in our armed forces, thank you from the bottom of my heart.