It’s widely known that the Democratic Party rests upon a voting base of minorities – those who don’t completely fit within the American mainstream. After the Civil War, the states in the former Confederacy voted Democratic. When Catholics were discriminated against, they voted Democratic.
Today the most well-known Democratic minorities constitute blacks and Latinos. President Barack Obama’s coalition rested firmly upon these votes – a problem in mid-term elections, when these voters tend not to turn out.
There are, however, a lot of very Democratic minorities out there other than just blacks and Hispanics. Asians and Native Americans, for instance, vote Democratic. Immigrants have always tended to vote Democratic. Women also lean Democratic.
This can lead to quite interesting voting patterns.
For more than a generation (1932 to 1964), for instance, both blacks and segregationists voted Democratic. The Democratic Party’s tent was so wide it covered both Martin Luther King Jr. and George Wallace. At one time, Democratic politicians included both Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. – the first black congressman from New York – and Mississippi Senator James Eastland, who once said:
In every stage of the [Montgomery] bus boycott we have been oppressed and degraded because of black, slimy, juicy, unbearably stinking niggers…African flesh-eaters. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to abolish the Negro race, proper methods should be used. Among these are guns, bows and arrows, slingshots and knives…All whites are created equal with certain rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers.
And to think both men called themselves Democrats!
Today the Democratic Party still creates strange alliances. It brings together groups which absolutely despise each other.
Take Jews. They have always voted extremely Democratic based upon social issues and discrimination from the main-stream. 77% of Jews voted for Obama.
So do Arabs. They have been alienated by former President Bush’s policies regarding the Middle East. In 2008 Zogby projected Democrats to win 68% of the Arab vote (I suspect that estimate low-balls the actual results).
When Jews and Arabs are both overwhelmingly voting the same way, that’s ironic. That’s the Democratic Party today.