Ronald Reagan and racial politics

A central requisite of my paper is trying to disentangle national and local politics as best I can.

Racial politics, however present in both forms, have to be more important in a city like Philadelphia, so much more diverse racially than the United States as a whole.

Last month, Paul Krugman wrote a commentary piece for the New York Times, discussing the role Ronald Reagan played in today’s racial climate politically.

He wrote of Reagan’s adeptness at winning over the white male vote, particularly in the South. Krugman makes an important distinction that is valuable in my own research, understanding the natural complexities of sub-groups in racial voting blocs.

For example, everyone knows that white men have turned away from the Democrats over God, guns, national security and so on. But what everyone knows isn’t true once you exclude the South from the picture. As the political scientist Larry Bartels points out, in the 1952 presidential election 40 percent of non-Southern white men voted Democratic; in 2004, that figure was virtually unchanged, at 39 percent.

If I were to draw a comparison, it is that I should be wary in speaking too generally about the black voting population in Philadelphia. I am working on collecting ward racial data for Philadelphia, to be compared with those ward’s voting patterns in order that I can best determine racial voting forms in the city, but there is much to keep in mind.

Photo courtesy of MSNBC.

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One Response to Ronald Reagan and racial politics

  1. Pingback: Pennsylvania: a review of racial politics displayed in Rendell and Swann battle of 2006 « Philadelphia Partisan Politics

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