Race and SuperPACS

This weekend on UP w/ Chris, the panels covered two topics that are quickly becoming part of a narrative that I think is on the wrong trajectory. The first one is dividing and analyzing the electorate by race. The other is the failure of SuperPAC spending.

Race and the electorate
All the networks (MSNBC included) are dividing the electorate by race. The common narrative is that blacks and Latinos propelled Barack Obama into the White House, gave the Senate a wider majority and picked up more House seats. But I think it is correlative, not causal. The Asian vote is an indicator that something else is acting here.

For some, race will always be an issue. Some whites won’t vote for a black candidate and some blacks will vote for the black candidate if he/she is on the ballot. I think that describes a minority, though and there is something greater that moved the electorate toward Barack Obama.

That greater thing is human dignity. People want respect as human beings, not as budgets lines on a spreadsheet. People want to hear that they are worth caring for when sick, not hear how much they are worth in dollars on a voucher. People want to hear they contribute to the growth of a country, not they are a drain on the social services just because they are not “documented.”

Human dignity unites us more than than race divides us.

I keep getting nagged by a basic fact about race in America. In 2010, 9 million Americans self-idenitfied as belonging to more than one race. In 2000, 6 million did. Consider that many people who are factually multi-racial (like Barack Obama) did NOT self-identify as multi-racial. In 2020, we’ll probably see 12-20 million people self-identify as multi-racial.

It is perilous for media and the political parties to continue to delineate the electorate by race in light of this trajectory. At best, race is becoming increasingly non-conseqnetial as an electoral grouping. At worst, reporting along racial lines will just becomes very convoluted and just incorrect.

SuperPAC Spending
The other narrative going around the cable shows is what a colossal failure SuperPAC spending was, that Karl Rove will have lots of explaining to do with his donors and that we will probably see a collapse of SuperPAC dollars as billionaires did not get what they thought they bought.

I think this is wrong and short-sighted.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was decided January 22, 2010. The industry is in its infancy where the spending channels available were limited. They could create ads then stuff them on television and the Internet. That was pretty much it; there simply were no other channels to buy.

I think what we will eventually see — or not actually see — is the creation of alternate channels that will go underground which will influence the electorate in “invisible” ways using consumer big data, much like retailers use for targeted ads. Given time, the SuperPAC industry will create these channels as mole tunnels into down-ballot races like school boards, state legislatures, city councils, etc. It will be deep and it will have wide tentacles. As the media smugly writes off the 2012 SuperPAC as a failure, it will simply not pay attention until the channels become entrenched.

Karl Rove knows this. So do his supporters. And they are patient.



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