In response to the recent story about Donald Trump’s initial failure to disavow David Duke’s endorsement, Vox.com posted a map today showing points from the Southern Poverty Law Center representing active Ku Klux Klan chapters across the United States (as of 2014).
The article concludes that while, according to one study, around 41 states had active chapters of the KKK in 2014:
Trump’s comments, if they were intentional, [aren’t] a sound electoral strategy.
I wanted to take a closer look at how the “SEC primary” states compare to the distribution of hate groups across the US, so I made the following heat map showing the density of hate group points (using the same SPLC dataset as in the Vox.com map) against the “SEC primary” state boundaries (Alaska is omitted as the SPLC data only covers the contiguous US):
There does indeed appear to be a high density of hate groups in the “SEC primary” states as compared to the rest of the country.
Of course, the strategy of snuggling up to (or at least not immediately condemning) overt racists is not a sound one, but one can see from the above map that the perceived racist tendencies in these states (particularly amongst those not living there) could contribute to a campaign’s misguided belief that it would imperil them to reject the endorsement of a former grand wizard of the KKK.
The geographic correlation of these hate groups with the “Super Tuesday” states should not be mistaken for an indication that voters living in these states are politically aligned with them. On the contrary, residents of these states are more keenly aware of the horrors of racism and hate groups than most.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked of Trump’s campaign this morning:
Is he really so stupid that he thinks Southerners aren’t offended by the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke? Is he really so ignorant of Southern voters that he thinks this is the way to their heart?
Could be, but all indications are he’ll come out on top tomorrow regardless, which makes this all even more troubling. It would appear that even this isn’t offensive enough.