The mid-term elections in the USA

By Razib Khan | November 3, 2010 1:05 pm

It looks like I was about right in regards to the House, and perhaps even mildly too pessimistic about Republican prospects. In relation to the Senate I was off. It is likely that there’ll be 53 Democrats (the late returns from the two states where Dems are leading come from liberal precincts) and de facto Democrats (Joe Lieberman + Bernie Sanders) and 47 Republicans and de facto Republicans (Lisa Murkowski will probably win her write-in bid, though it will be a while). Seeing that only about ~1/3 of the 100 Senate seats are up for a vote in a given election that’s a pretty big error, as I was off by 3 Senate seats. But then again, I was basically guessing, and not even making a particularly informed one at that. Just got lucky on the House prediction.


In the halls of weirdness, we now have two Punjabi American Republican governors in the Deep South (Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley). And Hansen Clarke won his Detroit area seat as expected. His late father was Bengali*, and his mother is African American. He was raised Muslim, and converted to Roman Catholicism as a young adult. His wife is Choi Palms-Cohen, a woman adopted from Korea at the age of three by an interfaith couple. She was raised both Jewish and Catholic, and considers herself an agnostic (I’d like to see survey data on kids who raised in two very different religions in terms of how many become detached from religion as adults).

* Hansen Clarke was born in 1957, so his father was a citizen of Pakistan. Additionally, the biographical details all say that his father died when Hansen Clarke was a child, so there’s a high likelihood that he predeceased the foundation of the state of Bangladesh. So calling Hansen Clarke a Bangladeshi American is anachronistic, though I think it is justifiable. But I’ve changed “Bangaldeshi” to “Bengali” just to be a bit more general.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Politics
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  • http://ecophysio.fieldofscience.com/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    Why is that so weird to you? Just because it’s never happened before, or for other reasons?

  • pconroy

    Fascinating!

    Especially the Nikki Haley story. I see her husband works for the US Army, and her brother is an active Officer in the US Army. This is interesting in light of the fact that she is a Sikh, and traditionally in India, Sikhs hold most of the military officer positions, and are seen as much most warlike than the majority Hindu population…

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Why is that so weird to you? Just because it’s never happened before, or for other reasons?

    as ethnic punjabi converts to christianity they’re a really small minority of indian americans. about half of indian americans are ethnic gujarati, about 25% punjabi. of these punjabis most are not christian. additionally, the deep south is really not a hotbed of asian american politics, and indian americans are overwhelmingly democrat.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    This is interesting in light of the fact that she is a Sikh

    she’s methodist, fyi. though if you dig deeper it doesn’t look like she shits on her childhood religion like bobby jindal. she used to claim she took her kids to sikh services during holidays.

  • omar

    Bobby’s conversion seems more genuine (or more determined to look genuine), complete with exorcism of demons (http://blow.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/28/bobby-jindal-the-exorcist-pro-or-con/). What do people think about the morality (or immorality) and desirability of converting to fit in and improve your chances in politics (lets say Nikki Haley) and really switching to a new religion because that mythology seems true to you and your old hindu mythology seems untrue (lets say Jindal)? Should we regard Nikki as the more sensible person or the more cynical one? does it matter? can we tell?

  • bioIgnoramus

    “additionally, the deep south is really not a hotbed of asian american politics”: perhaps that makes it easier for such candidates to be viewed as individuals, rather than as looters or extortionists on behalf of their racial or religious group.

    There would be some analogy with Biden’s implicit contrast of Obama with, I suppose, Jesse Jackson.

  • pconroy

    I was using Sikh in it’s ethnic context. I dated a girl from the Punjab decades ago and when I called her Punjabi, she corrected me and said she was a Jat Sikh, and mentioned the martial history in her family. While living in India she socialized in the “Officer’s Club” at the local military base, and many members of her family were military officers.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    the jatt part is more ethnic than the sikh one. in india almost all sikhs are ethnic punjabi. but there are white and black sikhs in the west. but jatts themselves are split between sikhs, hindus and muslims. but the sikh gurus were of the khatri caste if memory serves me right. and there are sikh dalits too, who have their own sect. in any case, hindus like to point out that many hindu groups would raise one of their sons as a sikh back in the day. the jatts make a big deal about their distinct identity. don’t know why, but they always do. i’d be curious if any sikh views their sikh identity as an ethnicity.

  • omar

    Guru Nanak was a indeed a Khatri (of the clan Bedi, still an honored name in Sikhs) as were most of the Gurus who followed. Jatt used to be just the Punjabi word for peasant but over time many clans of Punjab specifically acquired that name. Ranjit Singh (first Sikh ruler of Punjab) was a Jatt and in his administration Jatts became very prominent. They formed the cream of his highly professional and competent army and pride in “Jattness” seems to have accelerated in his time. Interestingly, there is some of the usual thing between Jatt and Khatri Sikhs in East Punjab, with Jatts considering themselves more “authentic” and manly than the khatris. It seems that among Jatt Sikhs, Jatt pride (and the martial overtones inherited from Ranjit Singh’s time in particular) have overcome the Khatris claim to closer kinship with the Gurus….

  • http://ironrailsironweights.wordpress.com/ Peter

    I don’t see much if any African ancestry in that photo of Hansen Clarke. My guess is that his mother is a mixed-race person of largely white ancestry and appearance, who is considered black as a result of the one-drop rule.

  • Katharine

    What do people think about the morality (or immorality) and desirability of converting to fit in and improve your chances in politics (lets say Nikki Haley) and really switching to a new religion because that mythology seems true to you and your old hindu mythology seems untrue (lets say Jindal)? Should we regard Nikki as the more sensible person or the more cynical one? does it matter? can we tell?

    I consider it more a well-deserved condemnation of the third-worlders down south than anything.

  • atyl

    Speaking of Nikki Haley, I don’t know why not many analysts are discussing this, but I thought her election result was one of the strangest. She was Sarah Palin’s first measure of success as king/queen-maker, she ran in prime GOP territory, and overall the Republican’s ended up with one of their best nights in history. But Haley only won by 4%. True, a win is a win. But how did that particular race get to be so close?

  • pconroy

    In terms of Jatts, I just saw this graphic, that someone had posted on DNAForums, from the DODECAD Project, which compares a range of South Asians:

    1. DOD078 – Unknown
    2. DOD075 – Razib
    3. DOD088 – Reddy
    4. DOD089 – Jatt
    5. DOD090 – Jatt
    6. DOD029 – 50%Gypsy/50% Austrian

    Interestingly the 2 Jatts here seem to have no East Asian ancestry, and double the West Asian ancestry, plus some Northern Europe. The girl I dated knew she had some Persian ancestry, and thought she might have some East Asian ancestry – as her nose was too small – but she looked like
    Norah Jones. I though she was a Latina when I met her first.

    Her lastname was Jaijee.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    atyl, the media has covered her scandals. just go to google news.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    paul, the northern european components seems to drop off much faster than the west asian one is south asia. also, some punjabis have the central eurasian lactase persistence allele, but other indians do not (according to extended sharing on 23andme). my bet is this

    1) the west asian is coming from ANI

    2) the northern european is disproportionately from the indo-aryan pulse

    by the time the indo-aryans came india was in the agricultural mode of production, so their demographic impact was more muted vis-a-vis the “west asian” agriculturalists (who as you know seem to be skewed toward anatolians, caucasians, central asians).

  • pconroy

    Razib,

    Yeah, I think your right.

    The West Asian reaches its highest proportion among Georgians, and this is very near the home of the first agriculturalists in the Middle East. Dienekes has speculated previously that J2 males brought agriculture to North West India/Pakistan, and that R1a1a were later Indo-Aryan males.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    well, i buy the idea that r1a1a in india is divided between old and new lineages. the latter would be indo-aryans. i’m r1a1a, and notice that i have a hardly any northern european.

  • pconroy

    I guess time will tell.

    There is a hotspot of R1a1a in Northern India’s Gangetic plain, and another in and around Poland – more testing may yields the answer.

    Though if both hotspots derived from a source in Central Asia, it most likely has dispersed today, due to the waves of horsemen sweeping back and forth over the centuries – so we may never really know for sure.

  • atyl

    atyl, the media has covered her scandals. just go to google news.

    Do you mean the alleged affairs? I thought that was all played out and dismissed during the primary. The Republican electorate didn’t seem to take it to heart, so would it really have an effect on the rest of the general public?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    no, more. taxes and other financial irregularities. kept dripping in SC after the national media looked away. many establishment repubs. came out for shaheen in september.

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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