Category Archives: American Demographics

Weekly Poll: Your Opinion on Race in the U.S.

John Sununu’s racial comment on Colin Powell’s endorsement of President Obama has caused some to wonder if the nation has become more racially divided since Obama was elected in 2008. What do you think?


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Condescent of a Woman

Samantha Bee confirms that women dislike it when people argue on television and suggests measures to make the debates more palatable to female voters.

The Awesome Power of the Bully Pulpit

English: Barack Obama delivering his electoral...

A bully pulpit refers to a public office, specifically the presidency, which provides the holder a terrific platform for rallying support for a specific issue or simply to make one’s view public. Due to the stature of the presidency the bully pulpit can bring issues to the forefront that was not initially in debate. For example, Pres. Obama, with the power of the bully pulpit, was able to shift the debate concerning illegal immigration last week by declaring why his administration will stop deporting young illegal immigrants brought to the United States at no fault of their own. Specifically, the U.S. will no longer deport illegal immigrants who meet the following criteria:

  • Came to the U.S. before age 16
  • Lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years
  • In school, graduated, or a U.S. veteran
  • No felonies, not a threat to the U.S.
  • Not older than 30

As president, Obama has an unparalleled opportunity to make and set policies while the bully pulpit allows the president to announce those policies and rally support. Meanwhile, candidate Mitt Romney, Pres. Obama’s republican challenger, can only react to the agenda of the incumbent president and merely make untested and immaterial promises to the electorate. As a result, Mitt Romney is now faced with the politically difficult task of either alienating independent voters by holding firm with his previously stated hard-line stance on illegal immigration (e.g. self deportation, zero tolerance) or angering the conservative base by flip-flopping on the issue altogether. One reason why Romney is in this problematic situation is due in part to Obama’s ability to set policy as the sitting president and the awesome power of the bully pulpit afforded him.


The Hispanic Vote—Myth, Monolith, Mystery

Garth Brooks singing the Don McLean song "...

Garth Brooks singing the Don McLean song “American Pie” at the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial concert. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the race for the White House moves along Hispanic voters will show up on the radar for both democratic and republican candidates. More experienced and knowledgeable commentators will know enough to differentiate between largely republican Cubans and Cuban Americans in Florida, from the deeply divided Texas contingent of Mexican cowboys that listen to Garth Brooks and those that stencil Michoacan on the back windows of their trucks. The Hispanic vote also includes the diverse block of socially conservative Catholic and growing evangelical Christians across the nation who believe in marriage between one man and one woman and their relatives who marry and divorce often—and sometimes with the same people. And don’t forget the urban Latino professionals who have managed to make it out of college and graduate programs to take very good jobs in every industry you can imagine. The so-called Hispanic vote is there for the taking.

Aggregated, the Hispanic vote largely goes to democratic candidates in percentages that make the gender gap look ridiculously trivial (anywhere from sixty-five to over seventy percent). In a good year, a republican candidate can get close to forty percent of the Hispanic vote. That translates into an unpopular democratic candidate getting just over sixty percent of the Hispanic vote. Over a decade ago I worked as a researcher for the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (one of the most important Latino think tanks in the nation). Our research routinely led us to conclude that Hispanic voters shared many of the same characteristics as other democratic groups of voters. Some care more about social issues. Some care more about immigration issues. Some care quite a bit about crime and the environment. Most care an awful lot about the economy and jobs and their children’s education. To make a long story short, candidates on both sides are going to have to work this one out on their own. The term “Hispanic” was actually first used by the Census Bureau as a term to capture the growing Spanish surnamed population in the United States. It’s an arbitrary and largely artificial term used to identify a very real and very complicated assortment of peoples and experiences that have contributed greatly to the American experiment. What do you think? Will the Hispanic vote help determine the winner for 2012? Will democratic and republican candidates figure out how to play the Rubik’s Cube of the Hispanic vote?


The Christian Republic of America

Separation of church and state is one of many great attributes that separates the United States from Iran, the Taliban and Al Qaida. The concept of separation of church and state refers to the segregated relationship between organized religion and the institution of government. The term is originally derived from Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists Association in which Jefferson states:

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

Nevertheless, many Americans wholeheartedly believe the U.S. to be a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. Constitutionally the United States, while a nation of Christians, is not a Christian nation. However, even in the modern era political groups are openly carrying out a Christian theology litmus test to determine which candidate for office is authentically Christian and therefore legitimate. Obama is regarded by some as either a closeted Muslim or a radical black Christian. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith is viewed as not Christian enough.  Religious tests for holding public office are banned under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, yet politicians are compelled to disclose and discuss their personal faith ad nauseam.

Are we the United States of America or the Christian Republic of America?



Daily Show: West Wing Story

Barack Obama fulfills a campaign promise to return to Puerto Rico for four hours.

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MPSL VLog: Demography and Representation

Every 10 years, the government conducts a census to measure population changes.  How do population changes affect American Democracy?  Professor Gaffaney explains.