November 09, 2008

Persily and Fougere: A Comparison of the Racial Composition of Support for Democratic Presidential Candidates in 2004 and 2008

Nate Persily and Joshua Fougere have written this guest post for the blog:

Although the body of the extraordinary election we just experienced is still warm, the autopsy of the vote has already begun. Some interpret the election returns as signaling a potential realignment, while others see the vote as an aberration born of unique political circumstances or an outmatched campaign. For those who study voting rights law, this election presents an unprecedented opportunity to examine the correlations between race and vote choice throughout all fifty states. We attempt to begin that conversation here by presenting a rough first cut of the electoral data at the county level and its correlation with the African American population share in selected states.

With all of the caveats one should make as to the available data three days after an election and the problems of analyzing counties of dramatically different sizes, we present the simple bivariate relationships between the total estimated African American population of counties in selected states as of 2007 and the vote share received by both Obama and Kerry in those counties. We use aggregate population, not voting age population or registered voter population, because we have those estimates for 2007 readily available from the Census Bureau. Of course, those data are "late" for the 2004 election and "early" for the 2008 election, but they give us some sense of the correlation between the racial percentages of a county and Obama's share of the vote. As a check on our work, we also present the CNN exit poll data from 2004 and 2008. For the most part, they confirm the patterns in the county level data.

You can read the entire post, including the tables, here.

Posted by Rick Hasen at November 9, 2008 08:05 PM