Monday, October 27, 2008

From the Front Lines Part V

Now that we are past Roman numeral 4 I feel confident I will get the numbers right, at least until it's time for 6.

Anyways, no leafleting this morning (thank god). Today we worked a historically Polish neighborhood. I wouldn't have thought this neighborhood would be much different in political orientation from the adjoining Italian and Irish neighborhoods we had already worked. In fact, we talked to nearly as many McCain backers as Obama folks today. First a trend, and then a pair of anecdotes.

There was especially high McCain support among those with what I think were Polish names. I have two theories as to why Polish people would be more McCain backing than white folks as a whole.

1: The neighborhood, like many ethnic enclaves, has become less ethnically identified over time. Thus the younger people are a more typical mix of Philadelphia ethnicities. As a result, the older folks who have been living in the neighborhood for 70+ years tend to be Polish. Thus, Poles in the neighborhood tend to be older. The McCain backing may have to do with age as much as anything.

2: The neighborhood is framed around a church (Catholic i think) and a Catholic school (dedicated to Pope John Paul). Perhaps the Poles we talked to were disproportionately Catholic.

It would make sense that Catholic+Old would produce more McCain friendly responses than the general population. As usual with these things it could also be a random distribution based on a small sample (we only spoke with 100 or so many of whom didn't wish to divulge their choice).

Now for some anecdotes.

We had lunch in a very tasty neighborhood pizza joint. After we tried to figure out what the deal was with her tatoos from afar, Herman bucked up and asked the waitress what they meant.

Herman: So, I hope I am not overstepping my bounds here, but what does your tattoo mean?
Waitress: (smiles, sheepishly) actually it says my name in another language.
ZT: Oh, neat what language.
W: From a movie, Lord of the Rings.
H: Oh. Is it Elvish?
W: (smiles, more genuinely) yeah. I looked it up online and translated my name and though, y'know, it looked cool. So I got it.

Wow, first time I have ever seen an Elvish tattoo.

I talked to a guy today, a young retiree, maybe 65, who was backing McCain. He made a few arguments that I hear a lot (better on taxes, Obama is a socialist, etc) but what surprised me is that he said he didn't like Democrats controlling all the branches of government. I'd be surprised if this guy had gone to college based on the sorts of words he used (big, probably unfair, and possibly incorrect guess) so I wonder if this is big on Faux news or the other conservative organs of information dissemination like talk radio. He went on to say that he thought that "Pelosi and that other guy, can't think of his name, are way to liberal."

All in all, a frustrating day. Lots of McCainies out there, some with a good analysis of the issues, some with creepy half-truths and slanders. This thing is far from over.

Update: The guy who mentioned the various socialist/mixed govt/etc points also prefaced them by saying "i'm not a racist or anything" and lastly added that he didn't like Obama's "attitude" and that he was "cocky." These are obviously important points. My grandpa Sam occasionally would offer streetwise advice. I remember him saying "don't ever trust someone more because they say trust me." I suppose there is a corallary for racism. Folks "who say I am not doing X because I am a racist" aren't necesarily racist or not racist but that is a claim that should raise the burden of proof necesary to demonstrate an appearingly racist position as reasonable.

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