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The Republican Party’s National Death Rattle

November 12, 2008

Foresight was never a strength of the hard right, especially those of the chat show class. Apparently, neither is hindsight. Phil Valentine, Mona Charen and others are spreading the idea that “racial guilt” led to President-elect Obama’s win. Racial guilt, if you can’t sort it out, would be White folks feeling bad for slavery and such and thus, boink! Pulled the switch for Obama.

All it would take for these folks to read some numbers and try a little math. Obama improved on John Kerry’s 2004 results with White voters by a whopping 2%. Two whole percentage points. If racial guilt did play a role, it wasn’t much of one. Granted, as White voters make up 74% of the voters this year, 2% is not insignificant. At around 2 million votes, it was not the difference maker. Minus those gains from ‘04 Obama still wins.

Why? One reason, turnout. Yes turnout was less than predicted (owing to Obama’s consistent lead in the polls and a disaffected group of conservatives across the board). However, the issue isn’t that turnout wasn’t so hot, it is who came out to vote this time. Conservatives stayed home at a greater rate than in ’04, while African American turnout was slightly higher.

The other reason is the most important. Obama won significantly large margins among Latino and Asian American voters. These are the fastest growing minority groups in the country as we know, and they account for the well publicized majority-minority predictions we keep hearing about (and both groups are very culturally diverse, a sign that Obama’s win cut across many cultural lines). Obama dominated among the younger populations in these groups. Should Obama’s time in office prove successful (or simply if the economy improves or people perceive that it improves) and the Democratic controlled House and Senate keep it together over the next four to six years, it is very likely that these young voters will be implanted with the identity “Democrat,” as people usually keep party identification they gain at a young age (Pew Research tracks the trending of Latino voters to the Democratic party back to ’06).

This is why Obama’s win could signal a death knell for the GOP in terms of power sharing. With their most well known mouthpieces foaming with anti-immigrant rhetoric, trying to pass vapid “English First” type legislation and continually failing to recruit candidates of color (with their most famous defecting to the Democratic candidate this time), these political Luddites will consign themselves to an increasingly dwindling base. The growth of populations of color factor significantly, but when added to the growing numbers of people overall who identify themselves as liberal (old school name for progressive) you can see the GOP is in trouble.

A New York Times article called this GOP base rural, White, less educated and Southern. Many of the analysts in the article noted that this could be the end of Nixon’s Southern Strategy as a viable one. With the population trending urban/suburban, Democrats may no longer need to win Southern states to win a national election, and statewide candidates may no longer need to carry as many rural districts, that is, unless that statewide election is in the Deep South.

While a lot of McCain’s supporters in the South bristle at the idea that race played a role in Obama’s poor reception in the Deep South (it’s always the other guy that’s a racist, innit?), results suggest otherwise. But it isn’t only the vestige of Southern racism that will hold the GOP down, it is the popular appeal of Democratic candidates and platforms to growing segments of the population, not a negative reaction but an affirmative action.

PS: As an aside, Texas is known for a large Latino population (and a sizeable Southeast Asian population in Houston), but the numbers of Latino voters who turned out this year in TX remained stagnant. It suggests that Latinos are moving out of TX for opportunities in other states like New Mexico and Colorado.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2008 2:56 am

    Black, white, latini, asian. Yup, sounds post racial to me.

  2. November 12, 2008 3:22 am

    “Post-racial” doesn’t mean you never mention race, or consider race, or include race in statistical calculations. “Post-racial” is kind of a meaningless term that is imbued with meaning by the speaker/writer. For some, apparently, it means “we don’t have to hear about race anymore.”

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