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There are several major takeaways from this election. The first is the obvious one. Like other folks, I relied on local and state polls. They were better in 2016, but not by much. The polling errors are even worse this year. Whether this is people on purpose lying to pollsters, or their methods don’t work. This means that polling companies are no longer capturing voting preferences. They did much better in the midterms. Why I was more trusting of them. The national poll balance usually means that the person ahead will have an easier time. This year…we are still waiting.

This means that in 2024 I will not consume polls for breakfast. I don’t care if they are the Sienna polls, or Gallup, or for that matter Rasmussen. I don’t think we can trust the polls. At one point in our history, we had no polls. We are back to that. Polls were a 20th-century innovation, but it is the methodology stupid.

I apologize, I expected a tsunami. The reason for that is quite frankly an industry that once was reliable. At this point, I will join the crowd that will never again trust polls. This means that I lack the tools to make an educated guess. This uncertainty is both puzzling and earth-shattering. I am used to having a certain comfort in knowing, more or less, that you could know with some certainty where a race was heading. We can’t anymore.

On the bright side, this means no readings polls anymore. They are a time sink. Whether pollsters can fix this, or not, I am not sure. But for the moment we cannot trust these polls. This is a process gripe. It is the death of a system that gave us some certainty for many decades. However, before the rise of the polls, the country survived, but election night, and at times weeks, was far less predictable. I fear we are back there.

We are Divided

The second take away is that we live in an utterly divided nation. The lines are somewhat north-south, but it is mostly urban versus rural. We have dynamic forward-looking urban metros and suburbs on the one hand. The other is conservative, looking backward, aging, more white rural areas. This is not a nation that holds similar values. There is no doubt about this at this point.

We can blame Russian misinformation, but for it to work you need that culture. What I will say about this divide will be harsh, but it needs to be said. Rural America is not only more conservative, it is increasingly rejecting what made this country a global leader. Chiefly, science is not something they care for. It is the elites, coastal and urban that they despise, that believe in this. It goes like this for multiple other things. Urban areas are diverse and forward-looking. This is a threat to rural America.

There is also another important factor. Religion. While younger, more diverse, and browner America, are becoming less religious…Rural America is still very religious. Which brings me to a crazy observation. They will not hold people who are Republican accountable for lying to them. Why? Because they see them as defending their way of life. They also do not care if people get sick and die either. We saw some of this early in the pandemic. As it ravaged New York City, people in Rural America called that a blue state disease.

Then there is racism. We knew we had a problem. The last four years have made it utterly clear. At this time white supremacy is a core value of rural America. So is owning the libs. It is transparent that the values of this half of the nation do not include openness or inclusiveness. Many of us tried to be nice and blame the economy for their sense of grievance in 2016. It is now clear that it’s not the economy, but the utter sense of grievance over changing demographics. They are afraid, I suppose, of the backlash from people they despise.

We have seen a lot of othering over the last four years. I expect this to continue. It does not matter at this point who wins. There are way too many white people who are racist and antisemitic. There is no other way to put it. Of course, if the president should prevail, this will go on steroids. If Joe Biden prevails, they will not be quiet. They will not hold people accountable when they outright lie to them because they want to go back to a country where everybody knew their place. This was a clear caste society.

The fact is that cities need rural America for things like food. But the cities have radically different values. For starters, we are talking of more diverse populations that are also younger. They are the future. But that past is trying hard to hold back any progress. They also want something else. They want action on the climate emergency. They see a future that will threaten human survival.

Florida, Arizona

While Arizona is trending blue due to a demographic change, I will now consider Florida an increasingly reliable Republican state. This is the reason, Dade-County. Yes, it is still a Democratic county, but less so. This needs explaining.

While red-baiting is hardly working in most urban areas, in Miami-Dade it works. Why? Venezuelan-Americans and Cuban-Americans, with a smattering of Nicaraguans. This is also a story of the immigrant family and their first generation. First, let me explain something about Latin-America. Just like the United States, these are caste societies. Implicit structural racism, as well as open racism, is common. Why? It is partly a colonial leftover. The people who left Castro’s Cuba, and Venezuela, with a smattering of Nicaraguans, were middle class…and mostly white.

The revolutions that made them flee were bottom revolutions. They were also left-wing. This is why they fear a leftward turn in the United States. Oh never mind the American left is nowhere close to Fidel Castro’s Cuba, or Chavismo. Both revolutions also overturned the caste system. This is why red-baiting works. It is not baffling. They don’t want a repeat of family histories.

Latinos coming from Mexico are split. The lower class, working class are more fearful of right-wing governments, and dirty wars. The wealthier, whiter, and better-educated trend right wing. They also prefer right-wing governments and less government control. This is the common language from right-wing parties in Mexico, with the issue of abortion as well.

Those that came from El Salvador have a similar split. So here is a pro-tip, do not put all Latinos in a single basket. You simply cannot do that. Incidentally, we are starting to see a similar variance among Blacks, and I suspect this has to do with social class.

But racism! Yes. There is also a history of people who are willing to look down on their own in-groups. In the case of Latinos, there is a history of racism within their home societies. So absorbing our own biases is not hard. There is also an expectation that white Latinos will soon be just white, as they become part of a nation where that has obvious benefits.

For these reasons, I think Florida is going to become increasingly Republican. This will only change as places like Miami-Dade slip under the waters and people are forced to move. Given the projections of ocean rise and the present reality, we will see this evolve during the next few decades. The irony is that Republicans make it a point of pride not to trust experts This includes a deep denial of climate science, even when Miami is already getting affected by the rising sea.

On the other hand, Arizona will remain a battleground but will start to be a reliable blue state. Why? It’s the recent influx of people into the state. These are more diverse, some with Mexican-American heritage, and far more progressive.

Final Takeaway

  • Following electoral polls are is worth the time and work at this point. They have very little value
  • This makes the prediction of elections incredibly difficult.
  • We are seeing population shifts that are affecting how states will vote. This is self-sorting
  • We cannot talk of minorities as monoliths.
  • We are incredibly divided, and we need to find a way back from that darkness. This is clear between rural and urban areas. The cultures are very different
  • White supremacy and racism are integral to American elections

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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