Friday, November 24, 2006

Who's a racist now, punk?

“I never thought so many people in (X) county would vote for a ni...”

This sentence was completed in its politically incorrect fullness by a former Democratic county chair on election night while in the courthouse watching the numbers come in. The numbers in the Gubernatorial election in our rural county were roughly the opposite of the statewide numbers. People in our rural county had in fact voted for a black man. Perhaps the fact that there was a Klan rally in my county about 15 years ago had something to do with the idea that there was a lot of latent racism in central Pennsylvania. No matter. Those people are now officially a statistical blip. An anomaly. The exceptions that prove the rule: rural people are not racist.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania (http://www.ruralpa.org) defines a rural county as one with a population density of less than 274 persons per square mile. Using population density as the measure of “ruralness”, eight of the ten most rural counties in Pennsylvania produced a majority for Lynn Swann. Of the ten most urban counties, only two voted for Swann, and those the least dense of the densest. The ten best-efforts for Swann were all in rural counties. Of Rendell's best performing counties, only one was officially rural.

It should come as no surprise to anybody that rural counties voted Republican. Moreover, it should come as no surprise that we voted for a Republican who was black.

Swann didn't run a good campaign. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the perception that he didn't have a clear platform. He got clobbered statewide, but he managed to do well in “the sticks” among the people who were supposed to be racist. Never again do I want to hear that rural Pennsylvanians won't vote for a racial minority candidate, or even an “white ethnic” like Mike DelGrosso. Never.

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