Jewish World Review May 21, 2001 / 28 Iyar, 5761
"In America," said Gertrude Stein, "there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is -- that is what makes America what it is." George W. Bush carried 78 percent of America's counties. His counties constitute 81 percent of America's acreage. But he needs to do better in "metropolitan America," the space where people are densely packed.
Increasing his share of the Catholic vote five points from last year's 47 percent would add a point to his popular vote percentage. Increasing his 35 percent of the Hispanic vote to 49 percent would add another point, as would getting his 9 percent of the African American vote to about 20 percent (Ronald Reagan got 13 percent in 1980 and Gerald Ford got 15 percent in 1976). Already Bush is essentially breaking even with Asian Americans in California, where they were 49 to 48 for Gore, and in 48 other states. Gore's 55 to 41 advantage among Asian Americans nationally came almost entirely from Hawaii.
To avoid aggravating suburban Republicans, Bush's budget was written with a wary eye on "flak to jack" ratios, meaning: Although it would be sensible to cut the funding of, say, public television and the National Endowment for the Arts, the saving would not be worth the resulting uproar.
As each party becomes more ideologically monochrome, conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans dwindle and straight-ticket voting increases. In the forthcoming 2002 edition of "The Almanac of American Politics," JWR's Michael Barone says such voting is more pronounced than at any time since the 1940s.
Last year only 86 districts were won by a congressional candidate of the party opposite to the one whose presidential candidate carried the district. There were 103 such districts in 1992 and 110 in 1996. Bush won the popular vote in 228 of the congressional districts, Gore won in 207.
The only significant Gore domination of income groups was of those with incomes under $15,000 (57-37) and those $15,000-$30,000 (54-41). Perhaps a more telling way to disaggregate the voting data is by education. Bush won small pluralities among three groups -- those who graduated from high school, those with some college experience and those with college degrees. Gore won somewhat larger pluralities among those at the bottom and top in terms of education -- those who dropped out of high school and those who have advanced degrees. Barone's surmise:
"Clients of the state (non-high school graduates) and employees of the state (the teachers, social workers, health care workers and lawyers who make up most of those with graduate degrees) tend to prefer the party that favors a larger state, while those who depend less on the state (the large majority with middling levels of education) do not."
Perhaps it is not surprising that, having solved the economic problem, America has turned to cultural worries. Which explains why, as Barone says, "Americans increasingly vote as they pray -- or don't pray." Consider two 42 percents. The 42 percent of the electorate who attend religious services once or more weekly voted for Bush 59 to 39. The 42 percent who seldom or never attend voted for Gore 56 to 39.
Religious voters are not concentrated in "major metropolitan America." But fortunately for Bush, that portion of America cast slightly less of the 2000 vote (45 percent) than of the 1988 vote (46 percent). And Barone notes that some of Bush's strongest support is in places that recently were places where nobody is but that now are filling up fast. The burgeoning places are, Barone says, "formerly rural counties on the metropolitan fringe, beyond the edge city office centers."
You are flying over one when you see booming megachurches looking like ocean liners surrounded by huge seas of parking lots. These are in places like Collin County north of Dallas, which grew 86 percent in the 1990s and voted for Bush 73 to 24; Forsyth County north of Atlanta, which grew 55 percent in the 1990s and voted for Bush 78 to 19; Douglas County south of Denver, which grew 66 percent in the 1990s and voted 65 to 31 for Bush.
To much of the national media, such places are as foreign as Mongolia. To Barone, they are the future. If he is right, and the memory of man runneth not to when he was not, conservatism's future is