Michael Barone on the influence of the Scots/Irish Jacksonian heritage on presidential politics .

” Let me add a couple of thoughts to Sean Trende’s excellent Real Clear Politics column on Barack Obama’s weakness in the Scots-Irish zone of America. Trende uses Obama’s weak showings in the West Virginia, Kentucky and Arkansas primaries this month to make the larger point that this region, where Bill Clinton was competitive in 1992 and 1996, has now become very heavily Republican, offsetting or more than offsetting gains Democrats have made in the Mountain West states of New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and (maybe) Arizona.

The Scots-Irish zone represents parts of America settled by the Scots-Irish who came across the Atlantic in huge numbers in the years 1763-75, just before the Revolution, and settled in the Appalachian ridges from southwest Pennsylvania to Upcountry South Carolina and then for three generations in a sort of drang nach southwest settled country going southwest and west to Texas and Oklahoma. The Scots-Irish zone is plainly visible if you make a map highlighting the counties where Hillary Clinton thrashed Barack Obama by the widest margins in 2008 (this also includes Hispanic counties in south Texas) or a map showing the counties where John McCain won a higher percentage of the vote in 2008 than George W. Bush had in 2004. There’s a big overlap here with the counties where, in response to the Census Bureau’s question about ancestry, the largest number of responses were “American.”

This group has historically played a much larger role in the shaping of America than would be expected of a group of it’s size . They have been , as a rule , among the first to fight for America and tend to be of a ” leave us to our own devices ” type of attitude . Not generally fans of big government . For further background I highly recommend James Webb’s ” Born Fighting , How the Scots-Irish Shaped America ” 

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