Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Does the GOP’s Demographic Death Spiral End in a Texas Graveyard?

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If Democratic voters were rapidly increasing in number and Republican voters rapidly decreasing, it should be pretty big news, shouldn’t it?

Not when at issue is a third rail of American social commentary: race.

Recently I wrote a piece on race and voting patterns, using as a lede the story about how white births now account for less than 50 percent of the U.S. total for the first time in history. And while most respondents agreed with my analysis, some reacted predictably: Uncomfortable even hearing about race and/or frightened by what lies ahead, they rationalized away obvious facts.

And here is one: You cannot understand where our nation is headed ideologically without grasping the link between racial identification and voting patterns — and demographic changes that will yield Democratic hegemony.

One response to my piece was that “it’s not about race.” This is true — in a sense. It’s about how group identification correlates with many other factors. For instance, Scandinavian immigrants are very liberal, and Jews vote Democratic upwards of 80 percent of the time. Thus, if these two white populations were increasing rapidly, it would make sense to discuss their future impact on the political landscape. But they’re not.

Another response was that I was confusing race with culture. Actually, though, this confuses the “what” with the “why.”

And here is a significant “what”: Republicans derive 90 percent of their presidential-election vote from whites. Democrats win the non-white vote by, on average, more than 70 percent.

Here is another “what”: One of these constituencies is shrinking, and the other is growing — rapidly.

How rapidly? Non-Hispanic whites shrank from almost 90 percent of the U.S. population in 1965 to 69 percent in 2000. And between 2000 and 2010, their share dropped another six points — faster than analysts expected.

Given the last statistic, it’s safe to say that, all other things being equal, the GOP will have a tougher time winning the 2012 election than it did the razor-thin-margin 2000 election. And all other things aren’t equal: Today Republicans face an incumbent.

Regardless, isn’t such a significant factor in electoral fortunes grist for election analysis? Or must we flee to the Land of Why and then relegate the discussion to the Land of Bye-bye?

This means distracting ourselves by jumping from observing statistical facts to mentioning a possible socially acceptable explanation for them before hastily ending the discussion. But avoiding a problem doesn’t make it go away. And, sure, we could play social scientist and discuss reasons for behavior — nature vs. nurture, culture, etc. — but this is secondary: We cannot intelligently and honestly analyze the “why” unless we’re willing to honestly acknowledge the “what.” “What” comes before “why.”

And the fact is that when analyzing color, America, and the electoral map, diminishing white correlates to diminishing red. For example, consider that while California went Republican every election but one (1964) from 1952 through 1988, it’s now solidly Democratic — mainly due to demographic changes. Why, its most famous Governor, Ronald Reagan, couldn’t win the state today.

So consider the two major parties’ electoral starting point. Every election now, Republicans have to spot the Democrats Calif. and N.Y. and their combined 84 electoral votes. Adding the votes of reliably Democrat Mass., Hawaii, Vt. and D.C. — and we can include Ill. in there now — brings the total to 125. And I’m being generous: A few more states probably belong in that guaranteed-Dem. column.

Yet it gets worse. If you look at the electoral map, states reliably or likely for Mitt Romney account for only 170 electoral votes while states reliably or likely for Barack Obama account for 243.

Only 270 are needed to win.

So now I’ll analyze this under the very safe assumption that each candidate will win states solidly in his corner. If Obama holds states leaning his way — not an unlikely scenario — he only has to capture Florida to win reelection. Combining just two other states, such as Ohio and Wis., Colo., Ariz., Mo., N.C. or Va.; or N.C. and Va., would also do it. And some of these possibilities are quite likely.

For Romney to win, however, he must not only hold states leaning his way, he must almost run the table with the toss-ups or peel off some likely Obama states. He has little margin for error.

Some will say that this is only one election. But Obama is the most radical leftist ever to assume the presidency; a 2007 study showed that he had the Senate’s most left-wing voting record (avowed socialist Bernie Sanders was number two). And Massachusetts Mitt is a moderate on a good day — a liberal on a bad one. So I ask: What conservative GOP candidate could possibly change the electoral equation? A minority such as Marco Rubio?

Perhaps somewhat, but short-term victories (and possibly deceptive polls) aside, the long-term pattern is clear. Richard Nixon won every state but Mass. in 1972, Reagan won 44 states in '80 and 49 in ’84, George H.W. Bush won by a 315 electoral-vote margin in '88, but the days of Republican landslides are over. GOP candidates’ road to the White House is now narrow, and fewer shall pass as time wears on.

As to the “why,” demographics aren’t the only reason. There is, of course, the leftist ideology preached through academia, the media, and entertainment. And there are exceptions to the racial voting correlation such solidly blue Vt., which is 95 percent white. But the demographic patterns and influence are unmistakable — and, among conservatives, largely unmentionable.

When it is discussed, however, we sometimes hear the term “tipping point.” So is there a GOP-Dem. electoral tipping point? Well, this brings us to my title. When Texas — which is experiencing huge demographic changes — finally flips and puts its 38 electoral votes in the Democratic column, what realistic path will Republicans have to presidential victory?

Of course, political parties adapt, so the GOP could move left with the electorate and survive. But authentic Americanism would not. And, then, the question is, with the way we’re being balkanized, will America join Americanism in the dustbin of history?


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