Friday, January 8, 2021

Some Personal Thoughts

A preface to this post: although these words, thoughts, and experiences are written by Michael Bitzer, the other members of the ONSP team support and agree with the sentiments expressed in this statement. This is a tough time in American politics, and it is going to take clear eyes to find a better way forward. As Political Scientists, we are committed to working towards a better functioning democracy. We can do better.

By Michael Bitzer

I write this on behalf of myself, but after consultation, the blog's fellow contributors have indicated their support for the following. We make clear, however, that we do so in our personal capacities and do not speak for our respective institutions.

I posted the following on Twitter, because I felt, at the end of this very long and tragic week, I needed to try and express my thoughts as simply and directly as I could. It’s long and is not intended to be a scholarly piece, but rather a summation of personal beliefs and experiences. I was intentional in crafting the piece's structure. I want the words to speak for themselves. It will offend some. It will give hope to others. I hope, for most, it will make you think. 

For me, it’s the only way that I can truly make sense of what we are experiencing. This is how I am feeling, as someone who has read, studied, thought, and ultimately tried to convey what it means to be an American, both historically and politically, for literally the past thirty years. And after this week’s events, we need to each ask ourselves something. And thus, the beginning of this thread. 

A question for every American: 

Do you support fascism or do you support freedom? 

And yes, it's that simple. 

If you can't answer that question, or pick the side that represents America and American values, then you've decided.

It is simply time to take account. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

A First Look at 2020's Election Turnout: GOP & Suburban Voters Dominated

By Michael Bitzer

Thursday, January 7 at 12:52 PM: I had written this blog post yesterday morning, on January 6, thinking that I would get it done before the joint Congressional session for the Electoral Count began, watch the proceedings unfold, and return to this piece this morning for one last glance and editing. Here's what I had as an original opening:

It's been an interesting start to the new year, or what some might describe (with everything going on) as '2020 version 2.1.'

Little did I realize what would transpire during the Electoral Count would fundamentally shake me to my core--as both a political scientist and historian and as an American citizen. But 24 hours later, with the physical illness feeling gone and in its place, a smoldering sense of professional and personal rage, I returned back to this blog piece to see if I had the stomach to hit "Publish" in the midst of everything else going on. 

And I paused. Staring at the blinking cursor. 

But then I realized: after everything that transpired, Congress went on its business last night. They reconvened after the insurrection had been removed from the Capitol, even amidst the destruction, disheveled desks and lecterns, and likely lingering tear gas. They proceeded to do their job, their constitutional duty and the responsibility they hold as elected officials under their oath of office. 

And so should I, although nowhere near the importance that they had. 

So, I posit the above as it may be a bit 'jarring' to the reader to then dive into my analysis of voter turnout rates and electoral composition. But as such, even with the continued constitutional crisis playing out as I type this sentence (and I realize that some may feel I am a bit hyperbolic in my word choices--trust me when I say, I am not), we must proceed on. 

Therefore, taking the above original opening with a grain of salt following the past 24 hours, here's the analysis.


But for those of us who are data geeks, the end of 2020 finally brought some welcomed news. North Carolina's voter history data file is now updated with 5.5 million records from the 2020 general election, giving us the definitive insight into who showed up last November in the record breaking election. 

For this post, I'll be looking at the turnout rates for various groups, based on the December 5, 2020 voter registration data file (allowing some counties to finalize voter registrations, but isolating those few voters who registered after early voting was completed). Out of the 7.4 million registered voters, 5.5 million cast a ballot, making North Carolina history with a 75 percent turnout rate in a presidential year in the past fifty years.