Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nate Silver: Does race affect votes?

By Jake Mc.

In this talk, math whiz, Nate Silver, has answers and conclusions to controversial questions of how race affects politics. The stats from previous elections and myths collide in this talk that leaves you puzzled about how race affects votes? However it seems to bring another question out of this topic.

Nate Silver opens by telling us that he wants to talk about the election involving John McCain and Barrack Obama. He presents stats from the election results; mostly about the victor, Barrack Obama. He compares Obama's results to the election of Democrat, John Kennedy, by showing us political maps of the victors of each state and also the election map of 1996 when the Democrats were last in power of the White House. He draws his first comparisons when he shows the 2008 election map is more controlled by the Democrats as the map is mostly blue, from the 2004 map that is mostly dominated by the red Republicans and the 1996 map controlled by the Democrats. He shows this comparison so later on in the presentation he can refer to it and make conclusions about why he believes that some factors could perhaps contribute to how race affects votes. Silver then tells us "We know that race was a factor." He backs this up by telling us that out of 50 states 37 conducted polls and ask,"In deciding your vote for President today, was the race of the candidate a factor?". This is a fairly direct question about race and overall many votes were directed towards either candidate because of race; however since Barrack Obama being the victor and an African American he was the focus of many votes being not directed toward him. Silver back this up by sharing with us: "In Louisiana, about one in five white voters said", "Yes, one of the big reasons why I voted against Barack Obama is because he was an African-American." So Silver does have primary sources from the people of Louisiana. Silver then starts to compares the 1996 election map results to the results of the 2008 map. He first tells us that the democrats both won the elections but he's more focused on the Southern States where Obama did slightly worst then the 1996 election. From this Silver pulls out many factors of why race in fact could affect Barrack Obama's running in the election. First he states "states like Arkansas and Tennessee is that they're both very rural, and they are educationally-impoverished." Silver backs up this statement by telling us that "you see the states with the fewest years of schooling per adult, are in red," Silver believes that more rural neighborhoods with less diversified races are more likely to adapt these trends of racial based voting, and with neighborhoods that are more diversified, like a Smarties box, tend to most likely not adopt these trends. This brings Silver to his next question, "is racism really predictable?" Silver then tells us that this is great news that racism is as predictable as he stated. " You can start thinking about solutions to solving that problem." This is very encouraging for all races so everybody in America can live in harmony. Silver gives suggestions how we can solve the problem from the roots and solve the behaviour trends of racism based voting. Overall, Nate Silver uses past election results to compare to the most recent to see if there is a race trend.

What I thought first about this talk was the question in the title, dose race affect votes? Yes it certainly affects votes. What I also agreed with was that racism base voting was found in the Southern States like Tennessee, Alabama and Louisiana. What made me believe this is the history of those States, from the first Klan to the private organization's that still exist today expressing their beliefs of white supremacy. I also felt that Nate Silvers delivery of this presentation was quick to the plate as he tells us straight away " I want to talk about the election"

Overall I felt Nate Silver had taken on a subject that didn't interest him like his favourite sport baseball, but he uses techniques and facts just like his baseball fantasy games to help him draw conclusions and watch myths collide in the exciting game of politics. If you are interested in politics and how one's race can effect the results of any election I suggest watching this video.

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