October 8, 2008

Gelf Magazine's Guide to the American Electorate

Presenting our taxonomy of political stereotypes.

Adam Rosen and Vincent Valk

In 2004, there were the NASCAR Dads. In 1996, it was the Soccer Moms; in this year's election, there are the Waitress Moms and the Active Grannies. Who are these people? They are the voters who hold the keys to the White House in the palms of their All-American hands. That is, if you believe the conventional political wisdom.

The above stock characters are not alone—read a newspaper or blog, listen to talk radio or watch TV, and you're bound to learn about the groups and subgroups that form the loosely-knit patchwork of a nation caught in a perpetual culture war. How can the Elitists possibly understand Joe Six Pack? How can a hardworking Reagan Democrat break bread with a hippie-spawned Obamaniac? Will Latte-drinking Volvo-drivers from Portland and Security Moms from Texas ever sing kumbaya?

Fortunately for the punditry, Gelf Magazine's Guide to the American Electorate will not answer these questions. But it does organize the conflict between Red and Blue that is fought every day in the media's imagination.


Latte-Drinking Volvo Driver

Upscale liberal who insists his coffee comes from fair-trading Nicaraguan empowered-farmers' cooperatives and his car from Sweden, where things are that much more civilized. A Bobo in Paradise, he haunts Rush Limbaugh's nightmares.
Primary Habitat: Pacific Northwest, New England, Ann Arbor
Recent Sightings: Swamp Politics, Vail Daily News

Limousine Liberal

Really rich, frequently famous, liberal who is chauffeured around in a presumably eco-friendly limousine.
Primary Habitat: West Los Angeles
Recent Sightings: Time Magazine

Gulfstream Liberal

Really, really rich, but less famous, liberal who is piloted around in a somewhat less eco-friendly private jet.
Primary Habitat: Upper East Side
Recent Sightings: The Atlantic Monthly


Think holding an advanced degree shouldn’t be an embarrassment? Think blinking isn't such a bad thing to do? Employ condescending, sarcastic rhetorical questions to prove a point? You might be an elitist.
Primary Habitat: Urban centers, primarily those of the Northeast
Recent Sightings: The National Review

Click above to buy a poster-sized version of this map.


Young, liberal arts-educated white guy who believes Obama is some sort of post-racial Messiah who holds the power to abolish class strife, heal the economy, and reunite The Smiths.
Primary Habitat: Wesleyan University, Chicago
Recent Sightings: Slate

PUMA (Party Unity My Ass)

Working class, middle-aged white woman who loves Hillary Clinton so much she’d vote against Barack Obama twice.
Primary Habitat: Western Pennsylvania
Recent Sightings: AOL News


Joe Six Pack

The American male archetype: likes his beer Lite and his trucks heavy. He views foreign relations through the lens of Jerry Bruckheimer.
Primary Habitat: The "Heartland"
Recent Sightings: Seattle Times, Vice Presidential Debate

Reagan Democrat

Joe Six Pack's unionized cousin, he's caught somewhere between FDR and the Gipper. He can't decide who he mistrusts more—the liberal elite or Big Business.
Primary Habitat: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania
Recent Sightings: Boston Herald

Waitress mom

Working class soccer mom who’s tougher than a slice of five-day-old white bread, and primarily concerned with family-welfare issues such as health care.
Primary Habitat: The border South, Southwest
Recent Sightings: Christian Science Monitor

Active Granny

She golfs! She goes scuba-diving! She chases those damn kids off the lawn while baking them cookies! The progenitor of the soccer mom, she's found new ways to multi-task.
Primary Habitat: Florida, Ohio
Recent Sightings: Politico.com


Security Mom

Like soccer moms (sensing a pattern here?), only more afraid of terrorists than tetanus.
Primary Habitat: Texas
Recent Sightings: ABC News


Like Joe Six Pack, but Larry the Cable Guy-ier.
Primary Habitat: The Southeast
Recent Sightings: Duxbury Reporter

Culture Warrior

Someone who thinks gay marriage will destroy whatever shards are left of an America already shattered by abortion and the European ownership of Budweiser.
Primary Habitat: The Deep South, Kansas
Recent Sightings: The Daily News Tribune


Disgruntled conservative who has committed heresy; a sub-species of RINO.
Primary Habitat: NW Washington, D.C.
Recent Sightings: The New Republic

Hockey Mom

Like a soccer mom, but colder.
Primary habitats: Alaska, Minnesota
Recent Sightings: Rockefeller Center, YouTube

Check out the full-sized version of the map and buy it as a poster!

(See more of Mister Lister's Gelf graphics at inkforbrains.com.)

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Article by Adam Rosen and Vincent Valk

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