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Wondering what boosted Trump in Wisconsin? A look at the exit polls

Donald Trump prevailed in Wisconsin on Nov. 8 by rolling up overwhelming support from white men and political independents, while making inroads among groups that were vital for Hillary Clinton.

Here’s a look at preliminary results from exit polling conducted in Wisconsin for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.

 

RACE AND GENDER

Trump took about six in 10 votes among white men, while battling Clinton to a draw among white women.

Women overall favored Clinton, but more than four in 10 went with Trump.

About nine in 10 women and six in 10 Hispanics supported Clinton.

 

GENERATION GAP

Clinton won among voters ages 18-44 while Trump carried the 45-and-older group, which made up about 60 percent of the overall electorate.

Voters in the youngest subgroup — ages 18-24 — were evenly divided.

Clinton was strongest among ages 30-39, while Trump did best among ages 50-64.

 

ECONOMIC PESSIMISM

More than half of Wisconsin voters rated the economy as the top issue facing the nation, while smaller groups picked terrorism, foreign policy or immigration.

Trump did well among the six in 10 voters who described the economy as poor or “not good.”

He also carried a majority of the four in 10 who predicted things would go downhill for the next generation.

 

A MATTER OF CHARACTER

Nearly two-thirds of voters — and about one-quarter of his own supporters — said Trump was unqualified.

Most also said he lacked the needed temperament.

Clinton scored better in both areas.

But voters gave both candidates negative ratings and said they were dishonest.

 

INCOME AND EDUCATION

Education levels produced another stark contrast.

A majority of voters had no college degree and nearly six in 10 of them favored Trump.

Clinton won among college graduates, but they made up a smaller share of the total.

Voters in most income groups were about evenly divided.

But Trump prevailed among the one-third of voters in the $50,000-$100,000 bracket.

 

PARTY AND PHILOSOPHY

Roughly the same number of voters described themselves as Republicans or Democrats and about nine in 10 of those supported their nominee.

But Trump won easily among the three in 10 independents.

Moderates and liberals backed Clinton, while Trump carried more than eight in 10 conservatives.

 

RELIGION AND MARRIAGE

Trump won comfortably among the nearly three in 10 voters who attend religious services weekly or more often, while Clinton did well with the one-quarter who never attend.

About three-quarters of white evangelicals favored Trump.

Married men favored Trump by nearly two-to-one, while married women and unmarried men were about evenly divided.

Unmarried women favored Clinton.

 

RACE AND IMMIGRATION

About four in 10 Wisconsin voters said whites generally are favored in the United States, while one-quarter said minorities are favored and one-third said no group gets special treatment.

Nearly six in 10 said immigrants help the U.S., while about one-third said they hurt.

About seven in 10 said immigrants working illegally in the U.S. should be offered a chance to apply for legal status, while one-quarter said they should be deported.

 

HEALTH AND TRADE

Nearly half of the state’s voters said the 2010 health care law known as “Obamacare” had gone too far, while three in 10 said it hadn’t gone far enough.

About half said trade with other nations takes away American jobs, while about one-third said it creates jobs and about one in 10 said it makes no difference.

 

WHAT MATTERS MOST

About four in 10 Wisconsin voters said the most important quality for the next president was to bring about needed change, instead of having experience or good judgment.

More than eight in 10 of them backed Trump.

 

WHAT ABOUT OBAMA?

A slight majority voiced approval of Barack Obama’s job performance, but more than half said the next president should pursue more conservative policies.

Nearly three-quarters of voters gave the federal government a negative rating. They overwhelmingly backed Trump.

 

The survey of 3,047 Wisconsin voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 50 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 358 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 28 through Nov. 6. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.

Trump ‘got as much as he could and then pulled out’ of blighted Gary, Ind.

Donald Trump swooped into Gary, Indiana, on his private jet and pledged to make the down-on-its-luck city great again.

It was 1993, and the New York mogul was wooing officials in the mostly black city to support his bid to dock a showboat casino along a Lake Michigan shoreline littered with shuttered factories. Trump and his representatives later told state gaming officials he would leverage his “incomparable experience” to build a floating Shangri-La, with enough slot machines and blackjack tables to fill city coffers and local charities with tens of millions each year, while creating scores of well-paid jobs for minority residents.

“We are looking to make this a real peach here, a real success,” Trump said of the project.

Today, as the Republican presidential nominee pursues black voters with vows to fix inner-city troubles, many Gary residents say his pitch to solve the problems of crime and poverty is disturbingly familiar. Like others who have done business with Trump, they say their experience offers a cautionary tale.

Little more than a decade after investing in Gary, Trump’s casino company declared bankruptcy and cashed out his stake in the boat, leaving behind lawsuits and hard feelings in a city where more than one-third of residents live in poverty. Trump’s lawyers later argued in court that his pledges to the city were never legally binding. Trump told The Associated Press that his venture was good for Gary.

Local civic leaders disagree.

“What you had was a slick business dealer coming in,” said Roy Pratt, a Democratic former Gary city councilman. “He got as much as he could and then he pulled up and left.”

Charitable foundation promised

A company town founded by U.S. Steel just 30 miles southeast of Chicago, Gary peaked in size in the 1960s at nearly 200,000 as black residents arrived from the South looking for jobs and an on-ramp to the American dream.

Gary’s fortunes fell with the steel industry. The remaining 77,000 residents abide persistent crime and chronic unemployment. Broadway, the once-thriving main thoroughfare, is now lined with vacant buildings, a boarded-up wig shop here, a once-regal theater there.

In 1993, when Gary was to get Indiana’s first licenses for riverboat casinos, there was Trump, presenting a plan for a casino he claimed would revitalize the city’s waterfront.

Due to concerns over his finances after two then-recent corporate bankruptcies, city officials initially did not recommend Trump for a license, but he didn’t give up. Trump went directly to the Indiana Gaming Commission with a beefed-up proposal.

In a September 1994 presentation, Trump’s team touted his “superior marketing and advertising abilities” to pitch a 340-foot long vessel called Trump Princess with more than 1,500 slot machines and enough nearby parking for 3,000 cars. Trump also said he would revamp an “eyesore” hotel near City Hall, according to a transcript.

Trump’s team projected an annual take of $210 million by the fifth year the casino was operating. Gary’s cut would be 1 percent of the gross gaming revenues along with other taxes, a projected haul of about $19 million annually.

To sweeten the pot, Trump’s representatives said they would try to ensure that at least two-thirds of the casino’s staff would be minority residents from the surrounding area, according to the transcript.

He offered to fund a new charitable foundation endowed with a 7.5 percent stake of the casino’s stock, estimated by Trump’s company to be worth $11.5 million. His official proposal also listed eight “local minority participants” in the project, a diverse group of men in medicine, business and law.

“When we put our name on something it’s more than just recognition,” Trump told the commission. “It’s very important to us so we’re looking for a long-term, very solid relationship.”

Trump reneged after license approval

Based on the strength of Trump’s revamped proposal, the state gaming commission overruled Gary officials, awarding Trump one of the two casino licenses. A May 1996 agreement signed by the Trump organization said the developer would “endeavor” to fill 70 percent of its 1,200 full-time jobs with minorities, and more than half of them women. Trump was to invest $153 million, including $10 million on local redevelopment projects that included renovation of the sagging downtown hotel.

The eight business partners in Trump’s license application had been offered a chance to buy shares worth more than $1 million, but most didn’t have the money.

So both sides negotiated a deal. For no cash up front, they would be given 7.5 percent of the stock for the riverboat and another 7.5 percent was to go into a trust benefiting local charities, according to a summary of the deal Trump’s lawyers sent to one of the men, Buddy Yosha.

The men were to pay in promissory notes and would be repaid later in cash or dividends from the casino.

A brief outline of the agreement was in the original casino application. And Trump’s Indiana-based attorneys confirmed the investors’ role in a February 1994 letter, saying they were confident they would get the license, show “genuine interest in being a good corporate citizen” and “provide substantial benefit” to local residents.

However, the men said Trump reneged once the license was approved. None got stock in the casino, and the money for charity was less than promised.

All eight sued Trump for breach of contract, alleging they were used to “Hoosierize” Trump’s application with gaming officials and then dumped once the license was approved.

“We felt cheated,” Yosha told the AP. “He said he’d do one thing and then he changed. It’s like what he’s doing with every position. He changes in the middle of the stream.”

As construction on a dock for two side-by-side riverboats proceeded in spring 1996, Trump’s company began hiring in advance of the casino’s grand opening in June. But his commitments to hire minorities and local businesses never came to fruition, according to local leaders.

“Trump reneged on both of those commitments,” said Richard Hatcher, a Democrat who was Gary’s first African-American mayor. “It simply did not happen.”

Hatcher helped bring a 1996 lawsuit, weeks ahead of the casinos’ opening, alleging Trump’s organization failed to meet promised hiring goals for minority and local residents and businesses, and had only hired 20 percent minorities. Though more than half of Trump’s casino staff was eventually made up of racial minorities, the lawsuit said blacks were overwhelmingly relegated to minimum wage jobs, such as valets and janitors. The better-paying positions on the casino floor, such as table dealers and pit bosses, were reserved for whites, according to the lawsuit.

Trump’s lawyers said the minority hiring goals were not legally binding. They succeeded in getting the lawsuit dismissed on procedural grounds.

The other lawsuit, filed in federal court by the eight jilted business partners, continued. Six of the men dropped out of the case after Trump’s company agreed to pay them a combined $2.2 million, but Yosha and another man, William Mays, refused to settle.

When the case went to trial in March 1999, Trump testified he didn’t know the men.

“I have never even seen them until this morning,” Trump told jurors. “I never had a contract (with them). I never even met any of these people. I was shocked by this whole case. I had no idea who these people were.”

Yosha acknowledged that he had not met Trump but said he had negotiated extensively with Trump’s lawyers.

The jury awarded Yosha and Mays $1.3 million. But Trump appealed, and in 2001 a federal appeals panel overturned the jury’s award, saying the agreement between Trump’s company and the two men had not been legally binding.

The judge also said Trump had met his charitable obligations through The Trump Foundation, a more modest effort than originally proposed, which was to give $5,000 college scholarships to 10 graduating high school seniors in Gary each year.

Profiting from bankruptcy

In 2004, Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts Inc., the parent company of the Gary casino, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Trump sought to restructure $1.8 billion in debt, much of it tied to hotels and casinos in New Jersey and New York.

Don Barden, a prominent black businessman from Michigan who owned the casino boat moored next to Trump’s, bought out Trump’s stake in Gary the following year for $253 million. According to financial disclosures, the proceeds from the sale were used to shore up the financial condition of Trump’s other casino and resort properties.

Through his spokeswoman, Trump told the AP he stood by his record but declined repeated requests to discuss the details.

“It worked out very well and was very good for Gary, Indiana,” Trump said, according to his campaign.

Current Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, a Democrat, said there were some benefits to bringing gambling to the city. Gary still gets about $6 million a year in gambling revenues, but not the $19 million Trump originally predicted. Trump also brought his Miss USA Pageant to Gary twice, briefly providing some of the glitz and glamour he had promised.

What remains today is far from the world-class facilities Trump boasted he would create two decades ago.

A decade after Trump pulled out, the two original riverboats, now called The Majestic Star and Majestic Star II, are still docked in Gary’s industrial harbor, hemmed in by a gray vista of dirt piles and cold smokestacks visible from the dingy windows. The carpets are faded and interiors dated with mirrored ceilings and walls. On a recent workday, a sparse jeans-and-sweat-pants crowd lined up for the serve-yourself soda and coffee between games.

The dilapidated hotel by City Hall was never renovated and was demolished in 2014. As for promises of high-paying jobs, a study for the state gaming commission found the median annual salary of a Trump casino employee in 2004 was $25,000, worth about $31,800 today when adjusted for inflation. That amount is slightly higher than the city’s median household income.

“When a community brings in gaming to spur economic development, I think one of the things we look for are long-term partners,” Freeman-Wilson said. “That was not what we found in Donald Trump.”

Trump won the county that includes Gary in May’s Republican primary, but the area is expected to continue to be a Democratic stronghold in November. A GOP presidential candidate has not carried the county since Richard Nixon.

Headed into November, Trump hopes to win over black voters.

“What do you have to lose?” Trump asked at a recent rally in Florida. “It cannot get any worse. And, believe me, I’m going to fix it. I’m going to make it so good.”

Asked about Trump’s pitch, former Indiana gaming commissioner David Ross, who was on the board that awarded Trump the casino license, said it would be a bad bet.

“What you have to know is that Trump is for Trump and he’s not for any black voters or anybody,” said Ross, a physician in Gary and a Democrat. “He’s not a guy who’s looking to help people. What he’s looking for is to make some money for Trump.”

— By Sophia Tareen and Michael Biesecker, AP writers

 

DIVIDED AMERICA: Minorities missing in many legislatures

As Virginia’s only Latino state lawmaker, Alfonso Lopez made it his first order of business to push for a law granting in-state college tuition to immigrants living since childhood in the U.S. without legal documents.

The bill died in committee.

So Lopez tried again the next year. And the year after that.

Now, in his fifth year in office, Lopez is gearing up for one more attempt in 2017.

“If we had a more diverse (legislature) and more Latinos in the House of Delegates,” he says, “I don’t think it would be as difficult.”

America’s government is a lot whiter than American itself and not just in Virginia.

While minorities have made some political gains in recent decades, they remain significantly underrepresented in Congress and nearly every state legislature though they comprise a growing share of the U.S. population, according to an analysis of demographic data by The Associated Press. The disparity in elected representation is especially large for Hispanics, even though they are now the nation’s largest ethnic minority.

A lack of political representation can carry real-life consequences, and not only on hot-button immigration issues. State spending for public schools, housing and social programs all can have big implications for minority communities. So can decisions on issues such as criminal justice reform, election laws or the printing of public documents in other languages besides English.

When the people elected don’t look, think, talk or act like the people they represent, it can deepen divisions that naturally exist in the U.S.

Campaigning door-to-door in the heavily Latino neighborhoods of south Omaha, Nebraska, first-time legislative candidate Tony Vargas has talked with numerous people afraid to participate in democracy. Some felt shunned or confused when they once attempted to vote. Others have misconceptions about the legal requirements to do so. Some simply believe their vote doesn’t matter.

“You can hear the fear in people’s voices, and you can hear that they feel like less of a member of society, less of an American,” says Vargas, whose parents came to the U.S. from Peru.

Though Hispanics now make up 10 percent of Nebraska’s population, there is not a single Latino lawmaker in its Legislature.

The Associated Press analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Congress and the National Conference of State Legislatures to determine the extent to which the nation’s thousands of lawmakers match the demographics of its hundreds of millions of residents. The result: Non-Hispanic whites make up a little over 60 percent of the U.S. population, but still hold more than 80 percent of all congressional and state legislative seats.

Among major minority groups:

  • Blacks are the least underrepresented but still face sizable gaps in some places. In Mississippi and Louisiana, about one-third of the population is black. Yet each state has a single black member of Congress and a disproportionately small number in their state legislatures.
  • More than half the states still have no lawmakers with Asian or Pacific Islander heritage, and just four states have any in Congress.
  • Hispanics comprise more than 17 percent of the U.S. population, yet they are fewer than 7 percent in Congress and fewer than 4 percent of state legislators. The gaps in representation exist even in California, New Mexico and Texas, with the largest Latino populations.

There are many reasons for the disparities.

The U.S. Hispanic population generally is younger and less likely to be eligible voters. And those who can vote often don’t. Voter turnout among Hispanics (as well as Asian Americans) dipped to just 27 percent in 2014, compared with 41 percent for blacks and 46 percent for whites, according to the Pew Research Center. Low voter involvement can make it harder to recruit minority candidates, and less likely for minority communities to be targeted by campaigns.

“It becomes sort of self-fulfilling _ they’re not likely voters, so you don’t talk to them, and because you don’t talk to them, they don’t become likely voters,” says political consultant Roger Salazar, whose clients include California’s legislative Latino caucus.

The power of incumbency also can work against minority representation. Decades of deeply ingrained name recognition have helped white lawmakers continue to get elected in some districts where population shifts have gradually made racial minorities the majority.

Another factor is the way legislative districts have been drawn. Racial gerrymandering can occur either when minority communities are divided among multiple districts to dilute their voting strength or when they are packed heavily into a single district to diminish the likelihood of minorities winning multiple seats.

In states that have elected a critical mass of minority legislators, they’ve claimed some policy successes.

In California, a new law expands the state’s Medi-Cal health care program for low-income residents to immigrant children, regardless of their legal status. The state budget includes $15 million for nonprofits to help immigrants gain U.S. citizenship or remain in the country. And a law that kicked in last year provided drivers’ licenses to more than 600,000 people living in the country illegally.

But minority legislators in numerous states told the AP that their priorities have been stymied partly due to a lack of others like them.

For 22 years, Delaware state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry has been the only black senator in a state where African-Americans comprise more than one-fifth of all residents. Henry says she has long sought to improve the educational opportunities for black children bused under a Wilmington desegregation plan to suburban schools. But recommendations from multiple studies have gone nowhere over the years.

Now, a new commission has recommended realigning Wilmington area school districts and revising the state funding formula to direct more money to schools with larger numbers of students who are low-income, learning English or at high risk of not completing school. Henry fears the plan will again be difficult to pass.

“If there were more black elected officials, we would have a better chance to get something done,” she says.

 

 

Judge: Voting rules won’t change for August election

There will be no change to Wisconsin’s voting laws before the August primary, including the requirement that photo identification be shown at the polls, a federal judge hearing a challenge to more than a dozen election laws said in late May.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson told attorneys at the beginning of the final day of testimony in the two-week trial that he will make a ruling by the end of July, which won’t leave enough time to enact any changes he may order before the primary where the field of candidates running for a host of state and federal races will be winnowed.

“Obviously I feel urgency in getting the decision out,” Peterson said, adding that he didn’t think it would be realistic to have it done before the end of July. He scheduled final arguments for June 30.

Two liberal groups and voters are challenging more than a dozen voting-related laws signed by Gov. Scott Walker and passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in the past five years. That includes provisions of the voter ID requirement, particularly the process used to grant free IDs to people who don’t have the required documentation, limitations on early voting times and places and the elimination of straight-ticket voting.

The plaintiffs argue that the laws discriminate against the poor, racial minorities and younger voters who are more inclined to vote Democratic. The state Department of Justice, which is defending the laws, argues that they have not suppressed turnout and the state works hard to ensure everyone who needs a free ID to vote gets one.

At least five primaries in congressional races are expected in the Aug. 9 election, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican challenger Paul Nehlen and contests on both sides in the open 8th Congressional District in northern Wisconsin. There will also be at least 23 state Assembly districts and seven state Senate races. The deadline for candidates to submit required paperwork to get on the ballot was this week.

The winners will face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

“There’s no way the decision will have an impact on the August election,” Peterson said. He also said he expected his ruling to be appealed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but didn’t say whether he would put it on hold until there is a final determination, perhaps by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I’m sure whatever I do will make one side or the other unhappy,” Peterson said. “There’s a god chance everyone will be unhappy, which I guess will be justice.”

Testimony in the case has relied heavily on experts on both sides presenting conflicting evidence about the effect of the laws on turnout both generally and among minorities. The former chief of staff to then-Sen. Dale Schultz, a Republican, testified that GOP state senators were “giddy” about passing the voter ID law because they saw it as increasing their chances of winning elections.

Defenders of the law, including Walker and Republican lawmakers, have said publicly that their goal was to make elections more secure and combat voter fraud. But evidence presented at trial showed there are very few documented cases of voter fraud. Election clerks from Republican parts of the state also testified that they experienced no significant problems running elections under the new laws, including the photo ID requirement.

 

UW-Madison works to address racism on campus

University of Wisconsin graduate student Michael Davis says he feels isolated, excluded and afraid as a black student on the predominantly white campus, where he’s been called a racial slur multiple times.

“It hasn’t been a positive experience at all,” Davis said.

Davis is among an increasing number of students at the flagship Madison campus demanding the administration make changes for inclusivity’s sake. They also join college students around the United States who’ve expressed growing frustration with discrimination and racism on predominantly white campuses, especially in the wake of protests at the University of Missouri in November and the growing Black Lives Matter movement.

In response, UW administrators have agreed to cultural competency training, have added student support hours and are asking students how to improve the climate, but activists say the response is inadequate and intend to get some outside help.

“That’s going to be our focal point, is organizing people in the city of Madison to help bring outside pressure to hold the university accountable,” said Davis, who’s pushing for community control of university police.

Universities nationwide have conceded to various demands from protesters, including resignations of administrators at the University of Missouri. But it’s still unclear how many of the requested changes will be carried out. At the University of Kansas, plans for a multicultural student government are in doubt after the chancellor recently vetoed a proposed student fee meant for it.

There is usually no accountability for delivery on the promises administrators make, said Shaun Harper, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I’ve seen college presidents and other senior leaders skillfully sort of get students to calm down,” Harper said. “Students are starting to see that some of the assurances made to them are not real.”

At the University of Wisconsin, a series of racially charged incidents fueled the students’ pressure for change: photos of swastikas posted on a dorm room door, stereotypical war cry sounds shouted at a Ho-Chunk tribal elder and graffiti using other Nazi symbols.

For many students of color, though, it’s the smaller instances. Betty Nen, a freshman whose father is from Papua New Guinea, said a guy started touching her hair at a party to see what it would feel like. Nima Cheraghi, also a freshman, said a girl called him Aladdin because of his Iranian descent.

“I believe that many, especially white, students just don’t understand the privileges they’re given,” said Cheraghi, a spokesman for Associated Students of Madison, the student government.

About 76 percent of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s undergraduate population is white, making it the second-whitest campus among the 14 universities in the Big 10 conference. It also has the smallest percentage of black undergraduate students, at just over 2 percent.

Sergio Gonzalez, co-president of the Teaching Assistants’ Association and a doctoral student in history, said people are realizing they don’t have to put up with discrimination just because they’re in the minority.

“I think that what’s happened is students have just gotten fed up,” said Gonzalez, whose parents are from Mexico.

UW students have interrupted Board of Regents meetings with lists of demands and have aired grievances and stories of discrimination on social media using #TheRealUW hashtag.

Hundreds also protested the in-class arrest of a 21-year-old senior for anti-racist graffiti, such as “White supremacy iz a disease,” painted around campus.

UW administrators say they are trying to be responsive to student needs and demands, and a university committee consisting of students and staff is evaluating more than 100 proposals from the community to improve the campus climate.

“My hope is that we are a campus that is really trying to do it differently,” said Lori Berquam, vice provost for student life. “We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to do it in a way that manifests the ideas of our students.”

The conversation includes a broader range of people than it has in the past, Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate Patrick Sims said. He said “majority” students — in other words, white students — are just now finding out about issues he’s been hearing about for 12 years.

“The burden cannot be on black and brown students and faculty,” Berquam said.

Disenfranchisement in Arizona, N.C. primaries

As we’ve seen in the Arizona and North Carolina primaries, the Shelby decision has ushered in a renaissance of voter disenfranchisement and Congress must step in to stop it before the general election.

The disenfranchisement taking place in these states since freed from Section 5 oversight is a canary in the coal mine, a sign of things to come, as we approach the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.

In Maricopa County, Arizona – which is 40 percent people of color, a much greater percentage than the rest of the state — some voters waited more than five hours to cast their ballots after polling places were reduced from 200 to 60.

Under North Carolina’s restrictive and discriminatory voter laws that were rushed through immediately after the VRA was gutted, many low-income, minority, student, and elderly voters lost the right to have their voice heard in our democracy.

In a country that so prides itself on being a beacon of democracy to the world, that is a national disgrace. Congress has a responsibility to hold hearings on this voting discrimination and on the two bipartisan VRA restoration bills languishing from inaction.

For the sake of the integrity of the upcoming general election, we urge Congress to act now.

Wade Henderson is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Editor’s note: Arizona and North Carolina previously were covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act due to long histories of voting discrimination against Latinos, Native Americans and African Americans and both have restricted access to the vote since the Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013. 

 

Damning study finds a ‘whitewashed’ Hollywood

In one of the most exhaustive and damning reports on diversity in Hollywood, a new study finds that the films and television produced by major media companies are “whitewashed,” and that an “epidemic of invisibility” runs top to bottom through the industry for women, minorities and LGBT people.

A study by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism offers one of the most wide-ranging examinations of the film and television industries, including a pointed “inclusivity index” of 10 major media companies — from Disney to Netflix — that gives a failing grade to every movie studio and most TV makers.

Coming days before an Academy Awards where a second straight year of all-white acting nominees has enflamed an industry-wide crisis, the report offers a new barrage of sobering statistics that further evidence a deep discrepancy between Hollywood and the American population it entertains, in gender, race and ethnicity.

“The prequel to OscarsSoWhite is HollywoodSoWhite,” said Stacy L. Smith, a USC professor and one of the study’s authors, in an interview. “We don’t have a diversity problem. We have an inclusion crisis.”

The study, the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity, examined the 109 films released by major studios in 2014 and 305 scripted, first-run TV and digital series across 31 networks and streaming services that aired from September 2014 to August 2015. More than 11,000 speaking characters were analyzed for gender, racial and ethnic representation and LGBT status. Some 10,000 directors, writers and show creators were examined, as was the gender of more than 1,500 executives.

The portrait is one of pervasive underrepresentation, no matter the media platform, from CEOs to minor characters. “Overall, the landscape of media content is still largely whitewashed,” the study concludes.

In the 414 studied films and series, only a third of speaking characters were female, and only 28.3 percent were from minority groups — about 10 percent less than the makeup of the U.S. population. Characters 40 years or older skew heavily male across film and TV: 74.3 percent male to 25.7 percent female.

Just 2 percent of speaking characters were LGBT-identified. Among the 11,306 speaking characters studied, only seven were transgendered (and four were from the same series). 

“When we start to step back to see this larger ecology, I think we see a picture of exclusion,” said Smith. “And it doesn’t match the norms of the population of the United States.”

Behind the camera, the discrepancy is even greater. Directors overall were 87 percent white. Broadcast TV directors (90.4 percent white) were the least diverse.

Just 15.2 percent of directors, 28.9 percent of writers and 22.6 percent of series creators were female. In film, the gender gap is greatest: Only 3.4 percent of the films studied were directed by women, and only two directors out of the 109 were black women: Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) and Amma Asante (“Belle”).

Following a request made in May by the American Civil Liberties Union (which cited previous USC studies, as well as those by UCLA and the Directors Guild in claiming women have been “systematically excluded” from directing jobs), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year began investigating gender discrimination in Hollywood.

The federal investigation is just one element of growing scrutiny for the industry. But for protesters, finding a target for what some consider a systematic problem isn’t easy. Even many of those, like Spike Lee, who have criticized the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, have insisted the issue goes far deeper than Oscar nominees. When academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs recently announced dramatic steps to diversify the overwhelmingly white and male film academy, she said: “The academy is going to lead, and not wait for the industry to catch up.”

USC’s study, which the school has been publishing in various forms for the last 10 years, also seeks to add a new metric in the conversation. The “inclusivity index” is a report card for the performances of 21st Century Fox, CBS, NBC Universal, Sony, the Walt Disney Co., Time Warner, Viacom, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. Those companies encompass all the broadcast networks, most major cable channels, all of the major movie studios and three of the dominant streaming services. 

Each was rated by their percentage of female, minority and LGBT characters; and of female writers and directors. None of the six major studios rated better than 20 percent overall; Time Warner fared poorest of all with a score of zero. The report concludes that the film industry “still functions as a straight, white, boy’s club.”

Disney, Sony, Paramount, Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. didn’t immediate comment.

Some of the same companies, however, scored better when their TV and digital offerings were evaluated. Disney, the CW, Amazon and Hulu all scored 65 percent and above.

“When we turn to see where the problem is better or worse, the apex to this whole endeavor is: Everyone in film is failing, all of the companies investigated,” said Smith. “They’re impervious to change. But there are pockets of promise in television. There is a focus that change is possible. The very companies that are inclusive — Disney, CW, Hulu, Amazon to some degree — those companies, if they’re producing and distributing motion pictures, can do this. We now have evidence that they can, and they can thrive.”

USC researchers also, for the first time, added analysis of those 10 companies’ executives. Researchers didn’t have racial or ethnic background information, but found that women represent about 20 percent of corporate boards, chief executives and executive management teams.

“As prestige or power of the title increases, we see fewer women at the top,” said Katherine Pieper, who co-authored the study with Smith and Marc Choueiti. “Film still has a prestige to it, so we see fewer women filling those positions.”

The research offers the chance for comparison between mediums. Do streaming services adhere to the established patterns of traditional television or deviate from them?

In some cases, they do, but in many, they don’t. Netflix (20 percent on the inclusion index) scored about the same as NBC Universal, CBS and Fox. There were far fewer female directors working in digital series (11.8 percent) than in broadcast (17.1 percent), in the shows studied. Broadcast, cable and steaming series also all revel in sexualized female characters and nudity more than movies do.

But some of the study’s most troubling finds are simply absences. Roughly 50 percent of the examined content didn’t feature one Asian or Asian-American character; 20 percent didn’t include one black character. Researchers argue for change beyond “tokenism,” including making target goals public and creating a system of checks and balances in storytelling decisions.

“People are still erased. It’s 2016 and it’s time for a change,” said Smith. “We’ve laid out concrete actionable steps because we don’t want to do this again in 10 years.”

Bring it — to the ballot box

State election officials say “bring it” to the ballot box.

They mean your photo ID.

We say “bring it.”

And we mean your right, your vote, your democratic power.

Voting in the 2016 election cycle began this month, with much attention to the caucuses in Iowa and the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. Of course at WiG we’re as interested in — and vested in — the presidential race as you. But we also want to emphasize the importance of state and local elections and the role of each citizen in the democratic process.

Regardless of which party holds your allegiance or who you support on the ballot, pocket your photo ID and “bring it” to the polls on Feb. 16 to cast your choice in the Wisconsin primary, to be followed by the presidential preference primary, the spring election and the general election.

This is no endorsement of the photo ID law that the GOP enacted at the bidding of a right-wing movement to minimize the influence of voters who traditionally vote for  the Democratic Party. Like you, we wanted to see this discriminatory measure overturned by the courts. We still want to see the law repealed.

But, to get there, we must “bring it.”

We must abide by the photo ID law so we can elect those who support voting rights for all and oust those who advocate for a government that just serves them and their well-funded special interests.

We know there’s confusion among voters about whether a photo ID is needed to vote and which IDs are acceptable. We found this guidance from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, the ACLU of Wisconsin and Common Cause.

ACCEPTABLE IDS: Include a Wisconsin driver’s license, a state ID card, a tribal ID card, an unexpired receipt for a driver’s license or state ID, a certificate of naturalization issued within the past two years, a U.S. military photo ID, a U.S. passport or a college photo ID card from a state-accredited college that contains an expiration date and signature.

WHAT IF THE ADDRESS ISN’T CURRENT ON THE ID? An acceptable photo ID does not have to include a current address.

THE NAME ISN’T AN EXACT MATCH: The name on a photo ID need not exactly match the name used to vote. For example, an ID that says “Sue Doe” can be used by registered voter “Susan Doe.” However, a person who’s legally changed his or her name must present an ID with the new name.

NO PHOTO ID: A resident can get a free voter photo ID from the local Division of Motor Vehicles by providing a Social Security number as well as an original document (birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, certificate of naturalization, Social Security card, military discharge papers, utility bills, pay stubs, insurance policies, mortgage papers, court order for adoption, divorce, name or gender change) containing the person’s name, date of birth, identity, proof of U.S. citizenship and residency. 

LACKING REQUIRED DOCS FOR ID: Complete a short form at the DMV stating that the documents needed to prove U.S. citizenship, name and date of birth are unavailable and require a fee to obtain.

PROVISIONAL BALLOT: If you get to the polls and don’t have a photo ID, don’t leave without voting. Voters have the right to request a provisional ballot and to show an ID by the end of the week.

Got it?

Now, “bring it.” 

Wisconsin Gazette’s mission is to help build a strong, informed community; promote social equality and justice; support immigration and electoral reform; expose government secrets and call out political corruption; celebrate and support the arts; and foster appreciation and respect for the state’s extraordinary natural resources.

Republican lawmakers target voter registration drives in Wisconsin

The Republican-controlled State Senate may consider legislation as early as Feb. 9 that would effectively undermine organized voter registration drives in Wisconsin.

Last week, on a 3-2 party-line vote, Republicans on the State Senate Elections Committee approved Senate Bill 295, along with an “11th-hour” amendment authored by the committee’s chair, Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg. Among other things, SB 295 would allow (some) Wisconsinites to register to vote online, but would eliminate “the authority to appoint and use special registration deputies.”

While we vigorously support online voter registration, we do not support this version or this legislation.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, and many other good government groups in Wisconsin, oppose Senate Bill 295 in its present form as well.

The GOP proposal allows only those with a Wisconsin drivers license or state-issued ID access to the online system. As a result, those individuals less likely to have those forms of ID (minorities, the elderly, low-income persons, and students) — the very people most likely to be served by special registration deputies — will be left out in the cold, having far fewer options to be able to register to vote.

This legislation would make Wisconsin the only state in the country to offer online voter registration at a cost that outweighs the benefits of instituting such a system.

Currently, special registration deputies are appointed by a municipal clerk to register fellow citizens at many venues within their municipality. You will often see SRDs during election season at libraries, community centers, nursing homes, farmer’s markets, outside of banks, at supermarkets, and on college campuses. The success of voter registration drives — conducted by groups like the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, Voces de la Frontera, and the American Association of University Women — hinges on the SRD’s authority to register voters.

SRDs have been registering voters in Wisconsin for more than 40 years without any problem whatsoever, and there is no valid reason to eliminate them.

Please help us stop this latest attempt to make it harder for thousands of Wisconsinites to be able to register and to vote. Call or email your state senator and urge your senator to oppose SB 295! If you don’t know who your state senator is, go here.

Wisconsin elections board pushes voter ID information

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board is pushing to inform people about new voter photo ID requirements with less than two weeks left before the spring primary.

The board held a news conference on Feb. 1 to re-launch its “Bring It to the Ballot” campaign, which it started in 2011 when the law passed.

The photo ID requirement was in effect for the first time during the 2012 spring primary election, but a court soon halted its implementation due to ongoing legal challenges. It will take full effect this year, starting with the Feb. 16 primary.

Republicans introduced the voter ID requirements as part of an effort to discourage voting among demagraphic groups that tradionally vote Democratic. The GOP has also scaled back on popular early voting programs and reduced the number of polling sites.

Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy says the board spent about $700,000 in 2011 and 2012 to develop videos, brochures and radio ads.

This year, however, legislators didn’t provide funding for the campaign, because the law was on hold.

Republicans have voted to get rid of the accountability board because it investigates political corruption.