Skip to comments.The Scots-Irish Voting Bloc
Posted on 05/28/2011 8:40:48 AM PDT by Kaslin
When national campaign strategists consider targeting an ethnic voting bloc to swing results in their direction, they typically consider blacks or Hispanics.
Yet, an ethnic group they often overlook -- the Scots-Irish -- are the voters the Republican Party convinced in 2010 to swing back to GOP candidates, after they swung toward the Democratic Party in 2006, experts say.
As the 2012 election approaches and both parties eye the White House and U.S. House and Senate seats, strategists from both parties say the Scots-Irish again could be critical to winning.
"They could be the margins in a tight race," said Tom McMahon, a Washington strategist who was executive director of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 through 2009. The DNC, he said, wanted to ensure these voters "would be open-minded to voting for a Democrat, because many are respected in their communities and could influence others.
"We found that when we talked about our core values as a party -- equality, fairness, social justice -- and how that applied to issues, we immediately made a connection to these voters, he said. Democrats have not been effective with the Scots-Irish voting bloc during the past two years and might need to employ that approach again, McMahon believes.
The Scots-Irish apparently became voters to watch and court without knowing it.
If they did know they were being focused on as part of a swing vote, they would probably vote in the exact opposite direction, said Brad Todd, a Republican strategist in Washington.
Several hundred thousand Scots-Irish, primarily Presbyterians and other Protestants from the Irish province of Ulster, came to North America during the colonial era. Fiercely independent, clannish and skeptical of government, many settled in Pennsylvania and helped shape its industrial growth. They understood hardship and hard work.
"By the end of the 17th century, this became the largest migration from Europe to America, said F. Thornton Miller, a professor of U.S. history at the University of Missouri.
These settlers preferred the hill country to coastal areas, building frontier communities across the ridges of the Allegheny Mountains, moving from Pennsylvania into Ohio, and then south into West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama. Often they became squatters, said Miller.
"They were known for fighting Indians, distilling and drinking whiskey. ... They became known as hillbillies," who didn't want to pay for land or to pay taxes, he said.
Today, political strategists might have some difficulty identifying these voters. Many don't identify with their ethnicity, and if they do, they are so distrustful of joining anything that they are hard to pin down, said McMahon and Todd.
They have maintained their non-conformist nature all through the generations. ... This culture is the bellwether of change in this country, for either party, said Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. Considered an authority on the Scots-Irish, Webb recently completed a documentary, Born Fighting, for the Smithsonian Channel and wrote several books on the subject.
Scots-Irish himself, Webb practices that non-conformist way of life: he was a Republican, and then ran as a Democrat for his Senate seat in 2006. He announced this year he would not seek reelection.
Todd determined the Scots-Irish were swing voters by poring over mapping data after the 2008 presidential election. He found a distinct voting pattern: people who rejected President Barack Obama, choosing Hillary Clinton in the primary election and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the general election.
When I looked at that map, I realized I was looking at where the Scots-Irish had settled, starting with Pennsylvania and Ohio (and moving) diagonally south along the spine of Appalachia, said Todd, who knows a little about these finicky voters because of his own Scottish and Irish bloodline.
He decided as a strategist that it made sense to target House seats Democrats held in areas settled by Scots-Irish families -- even if those congressional seats were considered to be "safe" Democratic incumbents.
His theory worked.
Republicans won eight of the 12 seats they targeted. Two GOP losses were in Pennsylvania, where Democratic Reps Jason Altmire of McCandless and Mark Critz of Johnstown held onto their seats by putting forth a message of maintaining independence from the Democratic Party and government regulation in Washington. That platform appealed to the populist nature of Scots-Irish voters in their districts.
I campaigned on the same values that my constituents have," said Critz. "That independence from Washington resonates around here. We believe if government leaves us alone and doesnt bother us, we will get the work done.
Seventeen U.S. presidents are of Scots-Irish descent, including Obama, who visited with distant Gaelic relatives in Ireland this week -- perhaps because his strategists are beginning to realize he should not ignore these voters.
Well, this is one Scots-Irish that won’t be doing any swinging back as I was never bamboozled by the Marxist-in-Chief to begin with, neigh, not only wasn’t I bamboozled, but even then, with Dumbo’s non-existent background, it was evident to me that Obozo was going to make Jimmah look like he was a damn fine Prez by comparison!
Very interesting. Thank you for the insight.
I think the first one of them to be president was Andrew Jackson; they are supposedy responsible for the design of the stars & bars flag, as the St. Andrew’s Cross is the flag of Scotland.
Gonna take more than a fake accent to sell me, Mr. O'Bama.
That is so interesting.. I knew that the Scot Irish were a significant force in the Revolutionary war and the civil war.. but somehow you assume they were assimilated ..
Although I am Scot, and I am very proud of my heritage, I am only 1/4 Scot.
My great-grandfather claimed Scots-Irish ancestery, but I do not know how that was connected or who they were.
We have always been Baptist as far back as we can trace. We have always been mistrustful of Government (local and central). We have always just wanted to be left alone to live our lives in peace. When that was not possible, we fought back.
Sounds pretty American in general to me.
Some of my ancestors were born in Texas during the Republic. Most of them came to Texas during Reconstruction. That was one of those time when we were not allowed to live our lives in peace. That had consequences, they were burned out of AL.
There is a lot of that attitude here in Texas, and I don’t think it is just Scots-Irish in origin.
I have never voted Dem in a national election. Almost never in a local election.
“There is a lot of that attitude here in Texas, and I dont think it is just Scots-Irish in origin.”
It isn’t; part of it springs from the fact that they won their war of independence against Mexico, and had their own republic, years before the Mexican-American War (and joining the United States). The fact that they left the Union so shortly after joining it doesn’t get much attention, but it should.
Is this really why the O’s are making nice in the UK? It boggles the mind how stupid the DNC can be. These are the same people O is always calling “racist.”
Hopefully, the Scots-Irish reclaim the philosophy of Thomas Reid which was integral in the Founding philosophy of the United States and all of Western Civilization. All Founders were taught and most believed in his school of thought.
Zero threw out Modern philosophy for his sick dehumanizing Postmodernism—he is a traitor to the Constitution, which is a combination of Reid and Locke and Montesquieu philosophies that decry the dialectic materialism that the truth of history easily exposes as a fraud (destroy history and knowledge in our public schools—socialist Dewey and you can reshape the little “plastic minds”!!!!!) Mass propaganda in schools and media has done a total transformation using covert methods to steal minds of children away from the worldview of parents and religion. Pavlov/Skinner methods easily work on minds of young children....why the age for entering school was lowered. Most brilliant people never enter school prior to age 7.....because when they do....mass conformity of thinking is forced—because of the Prussian design that Dewey instilled.... intentional to shape and form the emotional response of children to utilitarianism.....as written by that evil person, Marcuse—who is famous for “make love, not war”—who believed that intellectual responses are inferior to emotional ones.....so they can have Acorn members....flash mobs....mob rule....revolution and sex with boys (no sexual morality).
Zero is a fraud and liar and he is intentionally undermining everything in the Constitution and worse, instilling judges to codify the unconstitutional elements—just like Clinton did.
Sorry to be all over the place, but it is ALL connected and directed by those elite few who want to become god and are controlling the Foundations and banks who have posited psychology into curricula and media to shape thinking and force their utopia which will relegate us all to serfs. This is serious and we are getting to a no-turning-back point. Maybe we are there already. I hope not.
My ancestors have been here long enough to be thoroughly assimilated.
This Scot-Irish, German, Irish, Cherokee considers herself an American not a dam* voting bloc!
Such common sense is old school and not allowed in this PC world anymore!!!! Love it. We need to bring back Thomas Reid’s philosophy....which was a major formative philosophy of the Founders.....Common Sense.....
Scots-Irish are all over the rural mountainous south, they even get together now and then to throw logs around and play bagpipes and men wear skirts.
What's funny is how Jews in the entertainment business change their heritage names to Scots-Irish ones with royal overtones. Think of Jon Stewart, me foine laddie, and Mike Wallace.
I think this article highly exaggerates the cohesiveness of these "clannish" peoples--but I guess it's nicer than being called crackers, racists and rednecks.
Interesting, but coming from a S-I mixed with Cherokee (the common genetic makeup of the rural mountainous south), it's also kind of sill.
Mine, too - on my father's side. So we're being targeted, are we? Hmmmm
Michael Barone tread this same ground about 2 years ago. He calls this voting block the Jacksonians.
We pass on our cultural values to our children.. so even if we grew in the melting pots the virtues of independence and work would have been passed down
Mine too! On my father’s side I have traced them back to Scotland, apparently victims of the “clearings”. They were commoners, so the trail ends there. On her father’s side, Mrs. Submarineer is decended from Scotish royalty. Robert Bruce I Scotland was her 20th Great Grandfather.
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