The Missouri Compromise and the 2016 Democratic Primary

Democratic Primary 160323
From the NYT. This is a screen-grab from March 23rd.

Last night we added results of the voting in Utah and Arizona.

Why these clear distinctions in green (Sanders) and blue (Clinton) on this map?  Remember this map represents only people who chose to vote in the Democratic primaries.  Some contests are open (where Republicans and independents can cross party lines and vote in the Democratic primary) while others are closed (only Democrats can vote for their Democratic candidate of choice). However, given the stakes in the Republican contests, the people voting in the Democratic primaries are more than likely those that really care about the results.  In other words, more than likely those voting for a Democratic candidate are affirmatively voting for that candidate and not participating in some broader political game.

So what is going on here?  The easy answer is race, or more precisely the lack of racial diversity.  Bernie does better in largely homogeneously white states and districts.  But I don’t think it is that simple.  There is a great deal of cultural and historic context that I believe results in this very clear geographic divide in the Democratic Party.

To add a little of the context, here is the map of free and slave states including the demarcation of the 36th parallel which was meant to separate slave states to the south and free to the north as the nation was planning to expand.

From Wikipedia. Historic slave states in red and free states in blue. The line is the 36°30′ parallel – the line of the Missouri compromise which was meant to delineate future U.S. slave states

We’ll see where we go from here as the 2016 Democratic Primary votes roll in.  I just hope the Sanders and Warren wing of the Democratic Party is paying attention and figuring out how we can spread the message that there is something wrong in the heart of the Democratic Party.  And btw, that thing has absolutely nothing to do with race or ethnicity, it just seems to correlate well with it from the early maps of the 2016 Primary.  Imho.




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