The following is a slightly shortened ‘bloggerized’ version of my column today at The American Spectator called “Demographers Playing with Blocs“:
The U.S. has a population of around 300 million people. For political candidates, their pollsters and the media, this huge collection of citizens must be categorically jammed into demographic cages for careful observation.
The demographics used to be easy to follow, because most elections saw only two distinct groups separated by the biggest issue of the day. For example, in the mid 1800Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, you were either Ã¢â‚¬Å“forÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“againstÃ¢â‚¬Â slavery. In the 1920s, when prohibition was the pressing issue of the day, you were either a Ã¢â‚¬Å“dryÃ¢â‚¬Â or a Ã¢â‚¬Å“wet.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Progressively, throughout the mid-20th century, voting blocs were increasingly fragmented and dissected Ã¢â‚¬â€œ mainly because it became possible to cull a lot of money and/or power by fragmenting and dissecting voting blocs.
More recent history saw the birth of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Reagan DemocratÃ¢â‚¬Â in 1980. This group can best be described as blue-collar folks who traditionally voted for Democrats, but had grown weary of the stagflation, unemployment, Ã¢â‚¬Å“general malaiseÃ¢â‚¬Â, not to mention the nightmare of disco, that surrounded the Carter years.
Some Reagan Democrats may have even turned into Ã¢â‚¬Å“YuppiesÃ¢â‚¬Â in the mid-Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ80s. Junk bonds, Ã¢â‚¬Å“black MondayÃ¢â‚¬Â and the cancellation of Miami Vice would soon help turn many Yuppies into what was dubbed Ã¢â‚¬Å“angry white males.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As 1996 approached, it was decided that the angry white males were too dangerous to be courted anymore, so the politicians moved on to their wives Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the Ã¢â‚¬Å“soccer moms.Ã¢â‚¬Â Bill Clinton winked, nodded, played the sax, and won this group of female, suburban minivan drivers, with 2.7 kids and 1.4 dogs, hands down.
In the succeeding four years, Ã¢â‚¬Å“waitress moms,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“technician dadsÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“minivan momsÃ¢â‚¬Â filled the gap. During this period, pollsters discouraged waitresses from driving minivans, especially if it carried a technician dad, since it threw off the data.
Then Ã¢â‚¬Å“NASCAR dadsÃ¢â‚¬Â zoomed into the picture. Many men in this group once fell into the Ã¢â‚¬Å“angry white maleÃ¢â‚¬Â category before inexplicably deciding to channel their rage toward auto race spectatorship.
The supposed opposite of the blue-collar Ã¢â‚¬Å“NASCAR dadsÃ¢â‚¬Â were called Ã¢â‚¬Å“office park dads.Ã¢â‚¬Â Forget the fact that many of us know office workers who are rabid NASCAR fans. You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get to be the largest spectator sport in the U.S. on just welders, truck drivers and line workers alone.
The year 2004 brought us many different demographic segments, including the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hip-hopÃ¢â‚¬Â bloc, with movements such the one headed by P. Diddy, called Ã¢â‚¬Å“Vote or DieÃ¢â‚¬Â. Unfortunately for John Kerry, most young people at whom this was targeted apparently chose the latter.
The fragmenting continues to the point of absurdity. It wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be long before politicians are crowing for the approval of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“equestrian dadsÃ¢â‚¬Â, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Zagnut lovers,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yahtzee moms,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“bowling auntsÃ¢â‚¬Â, and “Michael Moore Republicans” — GOPers who hate the war and love Krispy Kreme.
The only Americans, it seems, who are not cast into a demographic mold by pollsters and politicians, are pollsters and politicians Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which is amazing, since they now seem to outnumber the rest of us.