Friday, November 21, 2008

Presidential Votes

UConn has published the results of the election with breakdowns by town. It's interesting to see that Waterbury and Naugatuck are very nearly surrounded by a sea of red, while almost the entire rest of the state is blue.

More election maps are online at


Peter said...

I'm puzzled by those results too. The Waterbury area and the Naugatuck Valley in general is about the most Republican part of the state according to this map, you'd think the more affluent parts of Fairfield County would have that distinction.

Waterbury Girl said...

I'm not surprised by how Wolcott voted. My dad has lunch at a diner there nearly every day, and he's told me about how they nearly always have Fox News on, and the waitstaff and other customers believe everything they hear from Fox. He tried to persuade them to see other sides, but they wouldn't listen. I've heard other, less pleasant, stories about Wolcott, in which some Wolcott residents are apparently ignorant racists (according to people who have shared their experiences with me).

I can sort of see Middlebury fitting a Republican stereotype, since that's where Waterbury's wealthy elite live.

As for the other towns, I just don't know. But, while I'm talking stereotypes, at some point before the election, I read that intellectual white women in New England were pretty much guaranteed to vote for Obama, so maybe all those red towns have a disproportionately small number of intellectual white women!

On a more serious note, I really do think it's interesting to see how neighboring towns can vote so differently. We often think in terms of regional differences on a national level (New Englanders, Southerners, etc.), but if you've lived in the Waterbury area long enough, you can sometimes tell right away (or at least think you can) if someone is from Waterbury, Wolcott, Watertown, Cheshire or Middlebury. It's almost tribal.

Jim said...

As a frequent visitor and fan of your blog, I felt compelled to comment here. I am no apologist for the republicans, but I think it's awful that you automatically assume anyone who votes republican is either wealthy and/or a bigot. It seems as though you have this notion of Waterbury as this blue oasis in the region, but if you compare the city to the other urban areas in the northeast (excluding Stamford, which is in a class of its own), you'll see that it trends considerably more to the right. The people of the Valley, including the democrats in Waterbury, have always been more conservative. Note that Kerry barely won the City in 2004.

I'm sure that you would agree that the people in the Valley are for the most part good-natured, salt-of-the-earth folk. For you to brand a whole town as racist because they disagree with your politics makes you sound ignorant. Instead of focusing on what's wrong with people who voted republican, perhaps you can be truly objective and ask what good qualities they may share in common with their candidate.

The problem with your argument is that you start with the assumption that only bigots and selfish rich people vote republican. Such hateful and absurd rhetoric is what drives us apart and distracts us from what's really going on.

Also, don't expect much change from the new administration. With the exception of wanting a more intrusive government than Bush has given us, he really doesn't sound much different than Bush or McCain.

Waterbury Girl said...

Wow. I think you really misunderstood what I wrote. But I am very glad that you wrote a comment! The one thing I don't like about this blog is how few comments are posted. I rarely get to know what my readers are thinking, or get feedback on whether or not I'm making sense. One of the most curious things about writing is that, while the writer might think her message is obvious, the readers will bring their own individual interpretations to what has been written. It's sort of like the cliched experiment in which a classroom full of students are asked to describe an event they just witnessed, and every single one of them writes down a completely different description.

First off, let me just reassure you that I do not have anything against Republicans. In fact, many of my friends and closest family members are Republicans, and I have voted for Republican candidates when I felt that they were good choices. I don't vote along party lines, I vote for individuals. Many months ago, I seriously considered voting for McCain. If he had been the candidate four years ago, I almost certainly would have voted for him. Since I am not a bigot and DEFINITELY not wealthy, your assumption that I assume anyone voting Republican is either a bigot or rich is false and can, perhaps, be classified as hateful and absurd rhetoric, to use your words.

As to the specific points, hopefully the following will clarify things:

When I look at the map and see that the strongest support for McCain and Palin is in the towns surrounding Waterbury, I wonder why those towns are different from most of the rest of the state. Since all I have to go by is the map, without any commentary by experts in elections, all I have to work with in a very loose attempt to interpret the data is anecdotal evidence and the stereotypes perpetuated by the news and entertainment media.

I did not brand any town as racist. I wrote that I have heard stories about Wolcott residents who appear to be ignorant racists. Racism exists everywhere. There are many racists who are otherwise very good people. There are plenty of racists in Waterbury. It is not exclusive to Wolcott, but it is something that is worth looking at. If, for example (this is one of the stories that has been related to me over the years), a black athlete can jog through the streets of Waterbury without any trouble, but as soon as she crosses into Wolcott is harassed by drivers yelling racial slurs while forcing her off the road, well, I think this is a serious problem and is potentially suggestive of the nature of the town. I think it is a valid point to consider when attempting to interpret the election data. A town where blacks are accosted by whites is a town that is less likely to show a lot of support for a black candidate.

As for the comment about the wealthy, it is supposedly a well-documented "fact" that wealthier people tend to vote Republican. Please note that I did write that I can "sort of" see Middlebury fitting that stereotype. The definition of a stereotype is something that is exaggerated, oversimplified, and possibly mistaken. I know many Middlebury residents who are staunch Democrats and Liberals, and I know many Middlebury residents who fit the stereotype of the wealthy Republican. In an effort to understand the map data, I conjectured that the wealthy Republican stereotype might be a way to explain how Middlebury voted.

I was hoping that my comments might inspire someone who is more knowledgeable than myself in Connecticut politics to explain why the state's densest concentration of McCain-Palin voters is in the Naugatuck River Valley. I am still hoping that might happen.

Jim said...

Let me start by saying that I never implied that you were rich or racist. I enjoy your blog, and you seem like an interesting and delightful person.

I was really hoping that you would respond with something positive. My comment was defensive because you weren't just speculating about people in some distant place. You were using unfavorable stereotypes to characterize people in the Valley. We are culturally different around here as you suggested at the end of your first comment, and some of us might even be proud of that fact.

If you base all of your opinions on anecdotal evidence and what the media tells you, then you really should make a conscious effort to either avoid all media or get your news from every angle to minimize the impact of bias. You'll be a much better person for it. Remember that they're out there to get ratings. If you can, check out google news and read the same story from different perspectives.

If you really want an explanation of the map, here is another possible way to look at it. The dense concentration of McCain-Palin voters in the Naugatuck Valley is related to the population density in the area and the cultural differences from people in the Hartford and New Haven areas. People around the Valley are proud of their working class roots. They respect family values and the notion of patriotism. The majority of them are Catholics, of which many of those are pro-life. They might also just disagree with President-Elect Obama's economic views.

Also, there was a time not too long ago when the whole state went republican. CT voters supported Ford, Reagan and Bush I. I'm sure there were a number of people who became republicans because they liked Reagan, who visited Waterbury, and they just stayed that way. The same is often said on the other side of FDR and JFK.

I would just like to add that I really do like your paintings.