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6 days ago

Is the South a different country? New York Times op-ed misreads election data

A provocative New York Times op-ed last week argued that political scientists oversimplify the great divide in American politics as an argument between rural denizens and urban residents.

Actually, the author says, the country’s politics fracture 11 different ways, the result of historical and cultural differences that split the nation into 11 distinct “countries.”

Portland (Maine) Press Herald reporter Colin Woodward, who developed the theory in the 2011 book “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America,” uses Mobile in the Times piece to bolster his argument. He lists the coastal Alabama city along with Boise, ID; Colorado Springs, CO; Knoxville, TN; Tulsa, OK, and Wichita, KS, as smaller cities that defy the conventional wisdom that cities are “reliable bastions of Democratic support.”

Woodward maintains that Mobile better reflects “Deep South,” one of his 11 nations. It encompasses parts of Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. He descries it as “modeled on slave states of the ancient world” and fights against federal power, taxes on the wealthy and labor and environmental regulations.

It historically has been diametrically opposed to the interests of “Yankeedom” — which covers New England and states in the supper Midwest. In “Deep South” and other culturally conservative regions, he writes, rural and urban majorities supported Republican candidates in all three [of the last national] elections, whether voters lived in central cities, wealthy suburbs, mountain hollers or the ranches of the high plains.”

Woodward’s theory holds when examining voting returns at the county level. All but 13 Alabama counties voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. In Massachusetts, the heart of “Yankeedom,” every county supported Democrat Hillary Clinton.

A more granular analysis of election results, however, suggests that urban voters in the North do not vote appreciably different than their cousins in the South or elsewhere.

A detailed map published by the Times just a few days before the op-ed makes it easy to test the hypothesis. Trump won Mobile County, for instance. But the Times map shows the vote broken down to the precinct level. There is plenty of Democratic blue in the city, itself.

The same goes for Huntsville, where Clinton carried many of the polling places in the city but lost overall in Madison County. Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, Anniston and Dothan all show the same pattern — little pockets of blue surrounded by precincts that grow a darker shade of red the further they are from the city center.

This pattern is evident in “Yankeedom,” as well. Although Clinton swept every Massachusetts county, at the precinct level, there is plenty of red in the rural areas in the middle of the state and in the southeast outside of Plymouth.

Clinton won Rhode Island by 15.5 percentage points, one of her best states. She carried two of the state’s three counties, and the one she lost, Kent County, she lost by just 548 votes. But the precinct map shows a sea of red in Rhode Island. Clinton’s victory statewide came from dark blue precincts in Providence and a lighter shade of blue in Newport and smaller cities.

The same urban-rural divide shows up again and again across America. Wherever large numbers of people live in proximity, Clinton precincts are sure to follow — even in overwhelmingly Republican states. The most densely populated parts of Salt Lake City, as well as the smaller cities of Park City and Ogden, are blue — even as the rest of Utah mostly was red.

That is not to say that regional differences are nonexistent. While black voters behave more or less the same everywhere — exit polls suggested Clinton won 92 percent of the African-American vote in Wisconsin and 89 percent in Georgia — there is variation among white voters.

The blue in Northern cities like Philadelphia, Boston and New York extends further into the suburbs than it does in Southern cities like Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville.

While 75 percent of white Georgians backed Trump, the president won only 53 percent of white voters in Wisconsin.

Still, the more urban the neighborhood, the more likely it is to vote Democrat — regardless of the ethnicity of its residents.

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.”

 

 

4 mins ago

WATCH: University of Alabama Police Department completes lip sync battle featuring ‘Sweet Home Alabama’

Monday, The University of Alabama posted a video of their campus police department participating in a lip sync battle against Clemson University.

UAPD chose “Sweet Home Alabama” as their song and, afterward, challenged all other SEC schools to join in on the competition.

Watch the full video here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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11 mins ago

Rep. Byrne: Illegal immigrants will not be housed in Baldwin County

Tuesday, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) announced that illegal immigrants would not be housed at Navy airfields in Baldwin County.

Congressman Byrne opposed the housing of 10,000 illegal immigrants at Naval Outlying Field Silverhill and Naval Outlying Field Wolf in south Baldwin County.

Byrne, along with other members of the Alabama and Florida Congressional delegation, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security Nielson expressing their concerns with the proposal.

Byrne released both a statement and a tweet on Tuesday regarding the decision of the proposal.

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“Housing illegal immigrants at ill-equipped airfields along the Gulf Coast was always a terrible idea, so I appreciate the confirmation that this plan is no longer being considered. We had a team effort to push back this flawed idea, and I especially want to thank Baldwin County Commissioners Chris Elliott and Tucker Dorsey and Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack for their advocacy on this issue,” said Byrne in a news release.

He added, “While I am glad this issue is resolved, we must continue working to secure the border and eliminate the need for additional housing for illegal immigrants altogether. I remain 100% committed to working with President Trump to build a border wall, hire additional border patrol officers, and ensure our border security is as strong as possible.”

Click here to read the full letter ICE Deputy Director Ronald Vitiello sent to Rep. Byrne regarding the decision.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

40 mins ago

Liberal heckler hurls object, expletives at Doug Jones — Jones says ‘there’s just as many people passionate on the other side’

After a liberal heckler hurled an object and expletives at Sen. Doug Jones at a town hall Monday, Alabama’s junior senator compared the incident, which ended with police officers hauling the agitator out, to peaceful conservative efforts to persuade Jones to vote to confirm President Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

AL.com’s Howard Koplowitz reported that Jones indicated at the town hall that “conservatives in the state are trying to apply the same pressure on him as the woman at the Birmingham event,” referring to the protester.

Jones said, “There’s just as many people passionate on the other side, so that doesn’t make it real easy.”

While the pressure on Jones from the left has stooped to this kind of antic, conservative efforts have all been peaceful and respectful to this point. They are backed by the fact that a majority of Alabamians polled support Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

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The Judicial Crisis Network’s massive ad buy has been flooding Alabama’s airwaves since July 9, and the NRA started their own ambitious television campaign last week.

Concerned Women for America, a Christian women’s organization, is also focusing grassroots efforts on the state.

Sen. Richard Shelby voiced his strong support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation after meeting with him recently, but Jones remains undecided.

“Senator Doug Jones’ inability to make a decision on casting an Alabama vote for Judge Kavanaugh is disconcerting,” Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan told Yellowhammer News.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

49 mins ago

Arab High School to dump ‘Dixie’ tradition at football games

A rural Alabama high school is ending its tradition of playing “Dixie” at football games.

John Mullins, superintendent of city schools in Arab, said he made the decision to quit playing the song at Arab (AY-rab) High School, but not because of any “external pressure.”

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Leaders in the educational system and the school board have talked for months about dropping the song, he said, and local news outlets reported in June that the longtime band director was retiring.

“While I fully understand the difficulty of changing a tradition, the song has negative connotations that contradict our school district’s core values of unity, integrity, and relationships,” Mullins said in a statement reported by WHNT-TV.

School bands throughout the South used to play “Dixie,” but the practice ended as the region got further away from legalized racial segregation.

The Arab High School Band has played “Dixie” after touchdowns for decades.

Students and staff at the school will vote on a new fight song after this football season.

In the meantime, the band will play an instrumental soul song that’s popular among marching bands, “The Horse.”

Census statistics show the town of about 8,200 people, located in northeastern Alabama, is more than 96 percent white.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Rep. Byrne: ‘Great value’ found in traveling around district, speaking with local leaders

Each August, the House of Representatives typically enters a period of recess known as the August District Work Period. This is time set aside for Members of Congress to travel across their home districts visiting with the people they represent.

For me, this is incredibly valuable time that I can spend listening to my constituents and gaining a better understanding of the issues impacting our area. Here is just a quick highlight of my August District Work Period so far.

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As you probably already know, I love to hold town hall meetings throughout the First District to hear directly from the people I represent. This August, I am holding a “Better Off Now” Town Hall Tour with twelve stops in all six counties that make up the First District. So far, we have held town hall meetings in Salipta, Atmore, Brewton, Dauphin Island, Millry, Citronelle and Mobile. Later this month, we will make stops in Grand Bay, Monroeville, Seminole, Loxley and Spanish Fort. You can get all the details about the town halls online at Byrne.House.Gov/BetterOffTour.

Visiting local businesses and talking with employees is another priority for me in August. For example, I have already visited Olin in McIntosh, the Louisiana Pacific facility in Clarke County, Serda Brewing in Mobile, and Metal Shark Boats and Master Marine in Bayou La Batre, just to name a few. The visits help me learn firsthand how federal issues are directly impacting employers and employees in Southwest Alabama.

A really special opportunity was being able to ride along with UPS to help deliver packages on the Eastern Shore. I dressed up in the full UPS uniform, rode in the truck, and personally delivered packages. It really helped to step in the driver’s shoes and see the difficult work they do every day. I am especially grateful to Chris Dorgan for showing me the ropes.

Just last week, I hosted Chris Oliver, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, down on Dauphin Island for a Red Snapper research trip. As one of the leading federal officials responsible for our fisheries, I welcomed the opportunity to show off the health of the Red Snapper stock in the Gulf, as well as the very impressive research being done locally by the University of South Alabama and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

Also last week, I traveled to the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi to meet with the director and get an update on services for our veterans. As you may know, the Biloxi VA oversees most of our local VA facilities. It was a productive visit as I work to hold the VA accountable and ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve.

We had the annual Women’s Forum in downtown Mobile, which is organized by the Community Foundation of South Alabama. We had another outstanding crowd as local women had the opportunity to network and hear from speakers and panelists about issues important to them.

I find great value in holding roundtable discussions to hear directly from leaders about specific issues. With this in mind, we held separate roundtables with local school superintendents, economic developers from our area, and community leaders from Chatom. Each of these roundtables were very informative, and we have more scheduled later this month.

As you can probably tell, this August District Work Period has already been a huge success. The good news is that we are just getting started. I look forward to spending more time around Southwest Alabama throughout August to help me be the best Congressman possible.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.