Sunday, November 03, 2002

Those in academia or in Chicago might know, but others might not, that the University of Chicago is in a neighborhood called Hyde Park, several miles south of downtown and smack in the middle of Chicago's overwhelmingly black South Side. (Hyde Park itself is, statistically if not always socially, an exceptionally racially mixed neighborhood.) This has the odd-for-me effect that political direct mailings, presumably sorted by zip code or something similar, treat me as part of a political demographic very different from my actual one. In the last week I've gotten several Democratic mailings that were clearly of the rally-the-black-base-and-increase-turnout variety, not attempts to persuade swing voters. (As noted below, I am a swing voter in the only genuinely competitive election I'll be voting in, the dreadful race for Attorney General between an inexperienced corrupt hack an opponent of any reform in Illinois' death penalty system. I'm currently, unhappily, leaning toward the hack, even though she supports the death penalty, too; at least she's mildly pro-reform.) I've gotten robocalls from Jesse White, the black Democratic Secretary of State, and Bill Clinton who is in general being used to rally black turnout and being kept away from swing audiences, reminding me to get out and vote.

I've got no real point here, certainly no complaint. It's just a little odd. Living in Hyde Park has lots of moments like that, and as a white in America I've never before been even a local-minority in this way. I've certainly been both a partisan and a religious minority, and have often thought that I was surrounded by political advertising that couldn't possibly be targeted at me. But that was blanket television advertising, not micro-targeted mailings and phone calls. A new experience.

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