Writing

The Candidates and the Four American Folkways

Michael Barone had a fascinating column on August 11, in which he looked at how the candidates are running in the four historic regions of migration laid out in David Hackett Fischer’s masterpiece book “Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America.”  What he found is fascinating:

McCain is running stronger than Bush did in two broad swaths of the county:

  1. “One is the route of the westward surge of the New England Yankees across Upstate New York, northern Ohio, southern Michigan, and into northern Illinois…. Historically, this Yankee-settled region has been turned off by southern accents, like Bush’s Texas twang.”
  2. The other area is “the set of states settled by the Scots-Irish stock who thronged to the Appalachians in colonial days…. Obama, who has lived in university communities all his adult life, did very poorly in primaries here.” McCain runs ahead of Bush in TN and AR and about even in KY, MO and OK.

Obama is distinctly ahead of John Kerry in two differently settled areas”:

  1. “One is what was once called the Old Northwest but could be called Germano-Scandinavian America” — WI, IA, MN, NE, the Dakotas and the northern Rocky Mountain states. “Historically, this was a dovish, even pacific region…. There are also local factors at work.  These states have never had very many blacks and have no history of divisive racial politics.”
  2. The other region is “the string of states originally settled by southern planters — and their slaves” — from VA south through the Carolinas and GA and west to AL and MS.

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