Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 2, 2011

LOOKING AT THE LANDSCAPE THROUGH A DEMOGRAPHIC LENS.... Ron Brownstein has one of the week's must-read pieces in National Journal, looking at "The Next America." The analysis covers one of the issues that likely keeps Republican strategists up at night: national demographic changes that are happening even faster than many expected.

The larger trends are probably pretty familiar to most -- the country's minority population is growing and making America more racially and ethnically diverse. Politically, this creates important challenges for the Republican Party, which is overwhelmingly white, and important opportunities for the Democratic Party, which enjoys far broader support among minority communities.

Three years ago, President Obama won an impressive victory -- with the highest popular vote percentage of any candidate of either party in 20 years, and the highest for a non-incumbent in a half-century -- but he did so with only 43% of the white vote. As demographic changes unfolding "ahead of schedule," as Brownstein put it, the president will seek re-election next year needing even less support from white voters to do just as well electorally.

With this in mind, Brownstein and National Journal started running some simulations.

First, we looked at the average annual increase in the state-by-state minority share of the voting-age population from 2000 through 2010 and projected that forward two years to produce an estimate of each state's total nonwhite population in the 2012 election year. Then we estimated how that population increase would affect the minority share of the vote in each state, using the relationship between the two variables in 2008 as a guide. (We assumed that for each state, the minority share of the vote in 2012 would equal the same proportion of the total minority population as it did in 2008.)

Once we established an estimated minority share of the vote for each state in 2012, we ran two simulations. One projected that Obama would win the same share of minority voters in each state that he did in 2008; the other assumed that he would lose 10 percent of his previous minority share. (That scenario approximates the falloff between the 80 percent of minorities that Obama won in 2008, and the 73 percent that Democrats captured in 2010, according to the exit polls.) In each case, we then calculated the share of the white vote that Obama would need to win each state.

The exercise shows that, compared with 2008, the road would bend toward Obama, at least slightly, just about everywhere. [...]

Obama, for instance, won Florida last time with 42 percent of the white vote; under this scenario, if he maintains his minority support he could win the Sunshine State with just under 40 percent of the white vote. With equal minority support in Nevada, the president could win with only 35 percent of the white vote, down from the 45 percent he garnered in 2008. Likewise, under these conditions, Obama could take Virginia with just 33.5 percent of whites, well down from the 39 percent he captured last time. In New Jersey, his winning number among whites would fall to just over 41 percent (compared with the 52 percent he won in 2008). In Pennsylvania, under these circumstances, 41 percent of white votes would be enough to put the state in Obama's column, down from the 48 percent he won in 2008.

In theory, the target list could conceivably even expand to include "red" states with quickly growing minority populations, such as Georgia, Arizona, and Texas. Even if those states aren't likely pick-ups, the demographics may force the Republican ticket to invest in these states, which they would otherwise expect to take for granted.

The GOP is definitely aware of all of this. The next question is what Republicans plan to do about it.

In light of Brownstein's analysis, and the fact that the GOP will need to "win an implausibly high percentage of whites to prevail" in 2012, while Dems rely on heavy minority turnout, Adam Serwer expects some very ugly campaign tactics in the very near future.

The Republican Party had a choice after 2008. They could continue to rely on a dwindling but still decisive share of the white vote to prevail, or they could try to bring more minorities into the party. While I'm not entirely sure how much of the decision was made by party leaders and how much is merely the unprecedented influence of Fox News, but whether it's pseudo scandals of the past two years, from birtherism to the NBPP case, the GOP's nationwide rush to ban sharia and institute draconian immigration laws, or characterizing nearly every administration policy as reparations, the conservative fixations of Obama's first term indicate that the GOP will end up relying at least in part on inflaming white racial resentment to close the gap. If Obama can't mobilize as many minority voters as last time, he'll have to make up the difference by picking up more white votes in those Rust-Belt swing states — giving the GOP even more reason to make Obama unpalatable to them. [...]

The personal qualities of whoever gets the Republican nomination probably won't matter. While McCain, to the chagrin of many Republican strategists, notably avoided dragging the views of Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, into the contest last time around, the next Republican nominee won't have much of a choice, because the GOP has spent most of the past two years alienating minority constituencies.

Jon Chait doesn't see it that way.

If Republicans can't increase their share of the non-white vote, they'll need to ramp up their share of the white vote. Now, I assume they'll try to increase their share of the non-white vote, primarily Latinos.

But assume they don't do that. Assume they try to make up the gap entirely among white voters. That means they need to flip some white voters who supported Obama in 2008. How do you do that -- through a campaign of cultural division? Well, maybe, but remember these are voters on whom that didn't work in 2008, when Obama was more unfamiliar and potentially scarier. It seems to me that, if you're looking to pull in whites who voted for Obama in 2008, you need centrist issues, not right-wing issues. That probably means running on the economy and the debt, right.

Basically, I don't see how an electorate tilting leftward, and more heavily minority, shows that the GOP is going to delve further into right-wing culture war politics. That's how Republicans might respond to an electorate with a rising proportion of white working class voters, but these circumstances are just the opposite.

Chait's pitch makes perfect sense, but I don't think Republicans embrace the same kind of reason. After all, GOP strategists have seen these demographic shifts coming, and know full well what they're up against in 2012. But the party hasn't, and perhaps can't, change course. For more than two years now, Republicans at multiple levels have not only railed against immigrants, but have invested in right-wing obsessions with racial and ethnic undertones -- Park51, the New Black Panther Party, Birther nonsense, Fox News' coverage of "liberation theology" -- all with the intention of scaring the bejesus out of white people.

It would make sense for Republicans to consider Chait's reasoning, but the GOP has already jumped head first into "right-wing culture war politics," and I'm hard pressed to imagine how the party can sharply change direction now, even if it wanted to.

Steve Benen 11:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (60)

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"The GOP is definitely aware of all of this. The next question is what Republicans plan to do about it."

Thanks for Teeing that one up, Steve!

The Republicans plan to continue demonizing blacks, browns, immigrants, women, the handicapped- and anyone else with a valid voters registration card!

Like the scorpion crossing the stream- it's in their nature. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 2, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Look for a lot more James O'Keefe "stings" against anyone who tries to register non-white voters.

Posted by: T-Rex on April 2, 2011 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans can't see reason.
Not any more.
Not even from Sarah's window.
They left reason behind a long, long time ago.

They are committed, and have committed their followers to a hard right agenda.
To try to swich towards something more centrist and rational means that they may lose the religious and xenophobic true believers. And these are not just their vital ground troops, but also their storm troopers who keep the others in line.

And so, with blinders on, the elephant lurches always to the right.

Even when it's wrong.
And even if it's off a cliff.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of stupid, ignorant, hateful, racist, sexist, xenophobic morons.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 2, 2011 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Bush brought in the "Hispanic" vote (whatever that means) for the GOP, mostly by playing the Christ card, but clearly the new conservatives have squandered that.

The other thing that the GOP should be afraid of is an engaged, and left-leaning, base of young voters, those in their 20's and 30's.

And older voters who are annoyed by their poor fiscal policy...And attacks on the AARP.

And anchor babies, of course.

Posted by: bignose on April 2, 2011 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

When you own much of the media and have cowed the rest, when you control most of the redistricting decisions, when you are skilled at suppressing democratic votes by a wide variety of legal and illegal mechanisms, when no one ever effectively calls you on your lies or punishes you for them, when your money sources are deep and anonymous, when a large fraction of the voters are at best uninformed if not downright nuts, and when you own the judiciary in case any of your tactics or close races come up for judicial review, then who cares about what a bunch of voters think?

Posted by: N.Wells on April 2, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

What N. Wells' said.

Posted by: Ned Roberts on April 2, 2011 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

You have to wonder why Republicans are attacking unionized whites in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere.

Posted by: Mike on April 2, 2011 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Another fast growing minority that leans Dem are the atheist/agnostic/no religion crowd. The GOP has done its best to antagonize them, too.

Posted by: Daryl P Cobranchi on April 2, 2011 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm becoming more and more convinced that the Republicans, at least the teabaggery ones, believe in their heart that their nutty agenda is "what Americans want". They believe they were mandated by an overwhelming majority of voters in November specifically to repeal Health Care Reform, ban Sharia, defund NPR, destroy the unions, and to take an axe to the budget.
Since all they listen to are like-minded folk, and all they see at their town hall meetings are old, white people, they think that is representative not just of the overall electorate but of the poplace as well. I don't see the teabag type Repubs backing down, because they won't believe this demographic trend could possibly be true.

Posted by: uncle toby on April 2, 2011 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm hard pressed to imagine how the party can sharply change direction now, even if it wanted to.

What N. Wells said. But also, too, there's eighteen months until the election. That's forever! And Republicans have a primary this year, and primaries are always crazy season.

They'll nominate a crazy for VP and a "sane sensible moderate" for Prez. They'll showcase the crazy at the convention and in mouth-breather country, and the "sane sensible moderate" will go on TV and utter platitudes about jobs and the deficit and taxes. The plutocratic media will duly follow the script -- no airtime for the crazy, lots of serious chin-scratching for the SSM -- and, as usual, the scared suburban rabbits will be caught between. Add a tiny pinch of racist inflammation, and the whites will come home to the Republicans.

I still think Obama will win unless there's another economic catastrophe -- which the Republicans are doing their level best to cause -- so a lot of this is pointless tinkering.

Posted by: bleh on April 2, 2011 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Jon Chait said, "Now, I assume they'll try to increase their share of the non-white vote, primarily Latinos."

That will be interesting. Aside from their long record of demonizing Hispanics as illegal immigrants, now they're front-covering on National Review Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as their next rising star, counting on him being their intro to the Latino vote.

The problem with that is that while the white folks in the GOP may see Mr. Rubio as Hispanic and assume that they all vote as a bloc, within the Hispanic community they see it differently. Mr. Rubio is Cuban, and as any Cuban will tell you, they don't see themselves as part of the Hispanic community along with those from Mexico or Central and South America, and vice versa.

So if the Anglo GOP thinks that putting Mr. Rubio on the ticket is their way of getting the Latino vote, es una tonteria tremenda.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on April 2, 2011 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I second uncle toby. They only listen to people who agree with them, and stay as far away from those brown people as they can. That's why they think Obama must have stolen the election of 2008 - nobody they know voted for him, so it must have been stolen by Acorn and the NBPP. And until we can keep the Koch brothers from buying unlimited ads to convince these people they're right, it's going to be a long road.

Posted by: Gretchen on April 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Nonetheless, despite all you say being true, the Republicans cleaned up in the midterms. The challenge for Democrats is to turn out minorities in offyear elections -- otherwise, the proportion of conservative whites voting goes way up, as it did in 2010, and we get the congressional mess we have now. A PR campaign is needed to help get more minorities in the habit of voting every year, not just every four. Some seemed to think they had done enough by electing Obama, that it meant the promised land was coming. I hope they know better now, and what to do about it.

Posted by: Bat of Moon on April 2, 2011 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

What Mustang Bobby said,,,
but more concisely;
...they think their shit don't stink.

Posted by: cwolf on April 2, 2011 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Only to liberals is it news that brown people breed like rabbits. I have five children but that's only because I was married three times and my exes all just had to do the "mother thing." Of course now I'm glad I did my part to keep the white race going.

Posted by: Mlke K on April 2, 2011 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

When I was doing census work- around Reading, PA, which has become a heavily 'hispanic' city since the last census- we were instructed to- and took great pains to- tell the respondents that "Hispanic" was NOT a race. Then much confusion followed.

As Mustang Bobby says, there are many, many variations on a theme. And we had a looong list of possible answers, and our respondents were encouraged to list more than one. Mestizo Indian and African, and Chamorro, for example.
What the Census will do with the information is anybody's guess. One fact is assured: it is much too complicated and "Nuanced" for the GOP to fathom- or use!

Posted by: DAY on April 2, 2011 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

If the Republicans gain control of the Congress and the Presidency in 2012, which I consider to be possible, then I would bet they try to gut or repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the name of "freedom of choice" with something like the "Freedom of Choice Act of 2013." Then, they will target the Voting Rights Act. And the Supreme Court will gut "one man/one vote." Then, all this demographic thumb-sucking can head for the dumpster.

Posted by: E L on April 2, 2011 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

One thing they will surely do is to sponsor a plethora of polls showing that Hispanics, women and blacks are dissatisfied with Obama's limited job creation, foreign policy, etc. Then the media will parrot these, while conducting more polls showing how effective the previous polls are in convincing minorities that Obama is innefectual. The goal is to lower turnout.

Posted by: Danp on April 2, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Chait is assuming that Republicans are willing to soften their ideology in order to win elections. However, in the 2010 elections, that assumption was simply not true-- see, e.g., Delaware and Nevada. So, yeah, he's right (obviously!) but his correctness does not appear to apply to events in the space-time continuum that we actually live in.

Posted by: MattF on April 2, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm becoming more and more convinced that the Republicans, at least the teabaggery ones, believe in their heart that their nutty agenda is "what Americans want"."

The tea baggers believe they ARE the only Americans, the real, legitimate Americans.That's where they're anger and bitterness comes from: what is rightfully belongs to them is being taken away.

Posted by: SaintZak on April 2, 2011 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

The next question is what Republicans plan to do about it

more voter id bills [the one in ohio pointly leaves off college id cards as valid] and more citizen's united enabled attack ads..

Posted by: dj spellchecka on April 2, 2011 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

ps: here's how the gop in texas is doing hispanic outreach..... via npr

State Rep. Leo Berman is leading the charge on immigration. One of his bills would "stop giving automatic citizenship to children born in Texas."

There's also a voter ID bill; a bill that would require elementary school children to prove their citizenship upon enrolling — data that would then be turned over to state and federal authorities; and another Berman bill that would make English the official state language.

"That will shut off the state printing anything in any language but English," he says, "and that's going to save millions of dollars right there."

"Most Hispanics right now do vote Democrat; there's no question about it. So what vote are we going after? We're going after a vote that doesn't vote Republican anyway."
this in a state where george w bush got almost 50% of the hispanic vote in his reelection as governor in 1998.

Posted by: dj spellchecka on April 2, 2011 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

And ending same-day registration. If you're the GOP, you don't want anyone voting who didn't vote in '10.

Maine's GOP are trying to end a decades-long same-day-registration process, despite any creditable accusations of fraud, and a history -- due in no small part to same-day-registration and other things making it easy to vote -- of having the country's highest, second-highest, or third-highest turnouts.

Democracy works best, apparently, when you make sure only the right people vote, and only the right way.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on April 2, 2011 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Chait is never right. No, the Republicans won't really try for a centrist white voter not animated by racial animus or religious hysteria. They've sucked that demographic dry and alienated all the sane white voters. They will double down on racism and, as davis X machina points out, on simply trying to disenfranchise both white students (the youth vote) and minority voters (everyone non white and urban). To the extent that the money boys are aware of the demographic problem they will try to put forward light skinned/assimilated latino minority candidates a la Rubio or an Obama lookalike like a Harold Ford type hoping that their racist base accepts a minority in a suit with capitalist bona fides. But that guy will never win an Iowa primary. This is going to be a brusing, bone breaking, fight between the racist religious bigot white block and its handlers and I don't think the republican party will "win" exactly.


Posted by: aimai on April 2, 2011 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

I'd also like to point out that contra everything sane the money wing of the Republican party has gone after the middle class and blue collar white voter with a vengeance. The Brownstein article talks about the "metal bending" white workers of the rust belt as though they were naturally Republican voters. Certainly the race war of the post sixty era pushed some percentage of union voters into the republican camp but as far as I can see the recent Wisconsin/ohio/michigan war on workers is pushing them very heavily back into Democratic arms. The problem the Republicans are going to have going forward isn't that they can keep the white voters they had locked up and "need to attract" a few centrist ones its that they are rapidly defenestrating their own voters. What on earth does going after the AARP say to older white voters? I'm happy to say that the Republicans seem very intent on shooting themselves in the foot before the next election and if they keep on this way they not only won't pose a threat to Democratic dominance over the minority vote they won't even be able to hire redneck white cops to police their loser parties after they've lost the entire white worker vote.


Posted by: aimai on April 2, 2011 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

This is where many of the loopy strands of right-wing thought all come together. Republicans, and many whites in general, are certainly aware of the long-term demographic trends; this explains much of their interest in secessionism, the Tenth Amendment and other antediluvian interpretations of the Constitution. They know that long-term of the federal government is going to be difficult, so what they are really after is creating a sort of home rule for whites by devolving as much power as they can to state and local governments, where it will be much easier to capture majorities that will uphold their agenda. The goal is to create as many "safe havens" for white people and let the rest of the country go to hell; having one of the two major political parties in the hands of radical nativists makes the job that much easier.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on April 2, 2011 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Article: "The GOP is definitely aware of all of this. The next question is what Republicans plan to do about it."

They will do what they always do - try to find enough people who will vote against their own economic interests, and if they see a slam dunk coming for the Democrats they have other options like vote fraud, or worse (e.g., the Bobby Kennedy solution). They are extremely good at the first option, e.g., dividing cafeteria Catholics from strict Catholics, Orthodox Jews from reformed, white from black, white from Hispanic, black from Hispanic, harvesting single issue voters for issues like gun rights and abortion, etc. It will take another very high turnout and a lot of private donations for Obama to get re-elected. Fortunately, several Republican governors and the tea party are laying the groundwork for a Democratic victory in 2012.

Posted by: max on April 2, 2011 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

There's a lot of truth in what N.Wells said. The GOP is aware of the demographic changes, which is why so much of what they've been doing lately is gaming the system to lock in their current gains for as long as they can. This process really started with the 2003 Texas redistricting (the goal there was not just reducing the number of Democrats in Austin, but making sure those who remained were minorities--there are now only a handful of white Democrats in the Texas legislature); the Citizens United decision and the antics in Wisconsin are in the same vein.

Nothing that's happened in American politics in my history as a voter ever moves the Republicans toward the center. Wins prompt them to become more conservative, but losses (1992, 2008) seem to make them even more conservative. I don't think they will change their ways until they have a double pounding along the lines of 1980 and 1984. The problem is that the electoral college makes it virtually impossible for any Republican to ever lose by that wide a margin.

My guess? Once they realize they can no longer win Texas with just white votes, they're going to have no choice but to adapt.

Posted by: ChuckT on April 2, 2011 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK


Shooting in the foot is no longer the appropriate metaphor. They are aiming higher than that.

And after they pull the trigger, they will brag about their marksmanship.

Posted by: jrosen on April 2, 2011 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

"The GOP is definitely aware of all of this. The next question is what Republicans plan to do about it."

They HAVE been doing plenty about it. Scorched earth (shred the safety net, ban unions), dead end stalling tactics (filibusters), poisoning the wells (pushing through extreme right wing judges), and misdirection (culture wars, Teabaggers) just as any army that's retreating wants to do to - inflict maximum damage without engaging in a a set piece battle where the direct tests of strength favor the advancing army.
In the low ebb time of their movement they want to make the new victors re-win territory that's been rightfully the new victors for a century.

That's what they will do about it. The 2010 chance they got is not being wasted, the leaders (not the useful idiots doing their bidding) understand exactly what they are doing and why. Preparing the terrain as best they can when they are back in the permanent minority (see 1933-1993).

Posted by: LosGatosCA on April 2, 2011 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

They are and will continue to do anything and everything in their power legal and illegal, ethical and unethical to suppress the 'non' white-elete voters right to vote.

Posted by: g'moms on April 2, 2011 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

FOR what they plan to do about it, see my toon: http://twitgoo.com/22i1qt. Titled, "and now a word from our sponsor" it shows a legal, prison and construction industry lobbyist who says, "... We need to create a new class of criminal." If SB 1070 (AZ's anti-immigration law) is upheld, there will be more and more of these types of laws and more and more people disenfranchised from voting because they will be members of the new underclass a category of US residents used as serfs by the upper classes and corporations whose income depends on low skilled labor.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 2, 2011 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ah Steve... if you haven't noticed, the Republicans have been consistently supporting a march towards their ultimate end-game: fascism- where the number of votes you get is directly proportional to how much money you have. Once we get their, "demographics" won't mean shit.

Posted by: spiny on April 2, 2011 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

What are the Republicans going to do about it? The same thing they've been doing for years -- they are going to lie. The masses will then vote against their own best interests and the interests of the country.

Posted by: Regis on April 2, 2011 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican party has had three impactful ideas in it's existence: abolition at it's inception, creating the Western states prematurely to ensure their electoral college dominance post-civil war and competitiveness ever since, and the Southern strategy.

If America was actually run like a business, most of the states in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states would be consolidated into fewer states and limiting their electoral college and Senate distortion. The Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas should be one state. Arizona, New Mexico another. Colorado, Wyoming, Utah a third. That would make America a fairer place through better representation and virtually decimate the Republicans who would lose somewhere between 10-14 senators without any change in individual voter preferences and the remaining senators would STILL represent fewer voters than senators from CA, NY, TX, FL, IL.

Until that demographic changes, the other stuff is really just interesting reading because the Democrats have missed three big issues over the long run:

1. Republicans are more committed than Democrats. They just are. Whether it's more money, age demographics, or the mission from god thing, they can be or they are, makes no difference, them's the facts. The gap has closed, but 2010 shows it can widen at any time.

2. The rich class war on the other classes. Plenty of analysis available.

3. The Anti-democratic electoral college demographics. Because of #1, greater commitment, Republicans have no fear of counter measures when they pull stuff like 2000 or determine that 'up or down' vote only means something when a Republican is president. Democrats don't know how to engage on this front. They have been suckered into the DC statehood thing which is a perfect foil for Republicans- it's a minority city, the founders founded it just they wanted it, and Republicans are able to sabotage it at every opportunity.

The reality, DC won't ever get statehood and even if it did, they get 2 senators. But if the Democrats were to simply to embrace the regional conflict and start delegitimizing say the Great Plains states and pointing out repetitively, hourly, that in fact the origins of these states are suspect, the economics of these states as political entities make no sense, and they seriously distort the founders vision of fairness, then the Republicans would not only have to defend the legitimacy of the filibuster for instance, but the legitimacy of the political standing that these senators are exploiting.

Downsizing government shouldn't be allowed to be limited to just laying off union workers, it should include the elimination of entire states overhead through consolidation. Just like private enterprise would.

Make Republicans play a little defense. That may sound radical to some out of the box, but that sort of discussion could lead to reform of the filibuster as the COMPROMISE solution.

Posted by: LosGatosCA on April 2, 2011 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I also think it is interesting to ask what Democrats plan to do about this demographic change.

One of the statistics that I've seen recently is that only 36% of whites plan to vote for Obama in 2012. I wish that figure were higher. I wonder what it would take to persuade some of the 64% of Republican-leaning white Americans that a multi-racial/ethnic America is a significantly better place for them than the Republican alternative.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 2, 2011 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

LosGatosCA: "if the Democrats were to simply to embrace the regional conflict and start delegitimizing say the Great Plains states and pointing out repetitively, hourly, that in fact the origins of these states are suspect, the economics of these states as political entities make no sense, and they seriously distort the founders vision of fairness...."

Wow, this is brilliant! Thanks!

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 2, 2011 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Simple really. They'll cheat.

Rigged ballots, rigged voting machines, fear of the "other" - the democrat is a liar/muslim/socialist/gay/foreigner/spy/terrorist/anti-christ, he's going to take away your guns, he's building a secret army/internment camps/death panels/machines to put flouride in your water and rob you of your essence.

The democrat's on drugs/did drugs/wants to do drugs/is a drug lord/works for the cartels/has sex with animals/pals around with terrorists.

The democrat is an elite/a hollywood liberal/a member of the washington cocktail circuit/an insider/has no experience/has too much experience/doesn't hunt like real murikans/hunts the wrong size animal/hunts in the wrong place/eats the wrong kind of lettuce.

Ok I could go on but you get the idea. Don't be surprised by any of it. It started in the last election fight.

Posted by: Polaris on April 2, 2011 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

While LosGatosCA raises some interesting points, I can't see any value and I can see much disadvantage to talking about de-legitimizing the Plains states. There is no one who wouldn't think that talk is crazy. Now I can see trying to tie representation to population and thus modifying the effects of the plains states, but not trying to bring up ancient (sic) history and trying to remove statehood.

Posted by: JoyousMN on April 2, 2011 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Daryl P, why wouldn't they think that? After all, they *did* win hugely back in November. America is stupid.

Posted by: impik on April 2, 2011 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Now all we need is for perfectionists to get out and vote Democratic to avoid complete disaster. (I even agree with many of their complaints, it's just that staying home or voting third-party *most places* leads to Republicans getting elected - that's the reality of life, like it or not.) And sure, if too many stupid members of the lower and middle classes don't get who is most against their interests, "demographics" won't help much. More stupid people around outweighs more Hispanics, blacks, educated, whatever.

Posted by: Neil B on April 2, 2011 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

The republicans have a two word strategy to deal with this problem: "Voter suppression"

Posted by: Robert Moskowitz on April 2, 2011 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the Republican governors' recent antics, I'd been wondering why, after patiently seeding "taxes are too high, unions are bad, get the government off our backs" ideas for 30 years, they apparently decided that they must bear fruit now or never. It seemed to have a desperation aspect.

It feels to me like they've "sprung the trap." And a lot of votors feel duped. As pervasive as the right's message is, it looks like there is a fair amount of shock at what these catch phrases really mean when the Republicans actually swing into action. Isn't it very good news for Democrats if Republicans have decided that conditions will never be better and they must pull off the power grab now?

The demographic info this week makes me think that maybe they've been forced into a hail-Mary-pass situation, it is their only possible move. I think it's a long shot.

Posted by: kay1352 on April 2, 2011 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Among some of my GOP relatives and acquaintances, there is the conspiracy theory that the 1965 Immigration Reform was a dastardly plot to destroy white America and increase the Democrats' voter base.

Posted by: Speed on April 2, 2011 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt this is keeping ANY GOP strategists up at night. The party has decided to be the party of Caucasians, and doesn't appear the least interested in appealing to anyone else.

Posted by: jea on April 2, 2011 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Usually only about 40% of eligible voters bother to vote in Presidential elections. This has been true for some time, and usually both parties are competing for the biggest slice of that pie, which is mostly composed of the top 40% in income, thus skewing to the Republicans. Obama was helped by unusually high turnout by first time and rare voters, who may have thought a person of color would be more responsive to their perceived needs. They do not feel their lives have improved substantially in the intervening years, hence low voter turnout in the past midterms and possibly the next election. Unless Obama and the Democratic party can reignite their enthusiasm, the Republican party can get as crazy as it wants to. The union shenanigans might bring back some of the blue collar voters who find the Republicans more culturally appealing, but these people have been voting against their own interests for so long I'm not betting on it.

Posted by: bos'n on April 2, 2011 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK


Democratic Party votes are usually the one who only know similar voters. Places like NYC, Chicago, DC, SF, LA, Boston all vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Cook count delivers over 1 million net voters for Democrats. No county does the same for Republicans. Republicans win by small margins in many places. Democrats win big in a few places.

The Republicans face the problem that every demographic group that automatically votes for Democrats for going.

Posted by: superdestroyer on April 2, 2011 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

What fascinates me about this conversation is (with the exception of LosGatosCA), nearly every participant describes the Republicans as agents acting intentionally (though not always rationally) towards outcomes.

Democrats--if they show up in a comment at all, are hapless foils. Republicans as Hammer, Democrats as Anvil. Non-republicans who gain or lose only as much as the Republican insurgency fails or succeeds.

This highlights one extraordinary and virtually unremarked success of the right-wing strategy: the destruction and marginalization of Progressive and Liberal leaders.

Example: Despite their tremendous efforts, the right has never proven Michael Moore lied, cheated, stole, slept around, or even said anything bigoted. Yet most "serious" Democrats keep him at arms length. MoveOn. Howard Dean. Etc.

Obama was protected both by the sheer speed of his political rise, and his incredible self-mastery to resist being baited.

Posted by: Quatrain Gleam on April 2, 2011 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Another aspect of this is, there is no guarantee Hispanics will continue to vote Democratic as they become more assimilated. They are largely Catholic and are culturally conservative, and might just add themselves to the rest of the GOPs low information bloc of voters.My guess is that the environment and gay rights are of little interest to them, and jobs and income are very important. I think the Democrats need to get MUCH better at getting an appealing and coherent economic message out.

Posted by: bos'n on April 2, 2011 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

IF people would be rational they would see that the national politics of tomorrow is the state politics in California today. The Republicans are irrelevant and the Democrats hold all state wide offices. The Republican candidates are non-competitive.

The Republicans are not using any gimmicks to maintain power because those are stupid conspiracy theories.

The only thing a fiscal or social conservative can do in California is vote with their feet and leave.

Thus, as the U.S. becomes a one party state, politics will resemble California where the political fights will be over government benefits, who pays, and who receives. The U.S. will stop being a country of ideas and will be a country of tribal in-fighting.

Imagine how high taxes will go with only one party and imagine what those out of power fill do to avoid the government.

Posted by: superdestroyer on April 2, 2011 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

The whole tea party thing was conkochted to get Republicans that 20% edge Obama enjoyed with minorities, by appealing to those who could be counted on the hate Obama.

This sounds like the democratic demographic edge may be even larger than they knew. So are they going to go all out extremist and have a white power element to enlarge their appeal even further? Hope for the neo-nazi vote?

Posted by: jjm on April 2, 2011 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Adam Goodheart has a timely analysis today of the cataclysmic demographic changes that were revealed in the 1860 census:

Posted by: Andy on April 2, 2011 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Someone has surely mentioned this already, but many GOP-dominant states are creating new laws to make it harder for the "wrong" voters to vote...college students, Blacks, Hispanics, ...requiring ID cards, etc.

Posted by: Andy on April 2, 2011 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

A. In California, there are enough Repubs in the legislature to gum things up- We now have a $25 billion deficit because of the strong no taxes dogma, combined with the 2/3 requirement for a budget (now gone this year). The same requirement prevents any type of "taxes". They are currently trying to drown the rest of us in the battub.--Even though they have NO statewide elected officials, and other that Arnold, they have not had any for years.

B. Tribal: Seems to me that tribalism is a major component of Rep. solidarity. That's all they have, but its plenty strong.

Posted by: m. Carey on April 2, 2011 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Now you know how the American Indian felt.

Posted by: Bonnie on April 2, 2011 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

m. Carey

The millions of additional illegal aliens that the exodus from California of middle class whites had nothing to do with the Democratic Party's limited ability to raise taxes. The budget problems are due to too economic bubbles and structural changes. If Democrats would have massively raised taxes during the good times, the public sector workers would be wealthier and the budget deficit would be even bigger.

Also, in California, the few Republicans that are left cannot even have their own primary. Not the Democratic voters will get to pick their own opponents.

Posted by: superdestroyer on April 2, 2011 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

1. Hispanics will vote Democratic because they feel the Republicans have put them under siege. George W. Bush spoke fractured Spanish to appeal to them; Obama appears on Spanish tv. Today's Republican consider all Hispanics "illegal" and would expect Hispanic voters to understand their English.
2. White union members - "Reagan Democrats" - will come home after the shenanigans in Wisconsin, Ohio, and House of Representatives.
3. Other minorities - Muslims, Native Americans, GBLT - will vote Democratic simply because the Republicans are demonizing them to ramp up the white vote.

Posted by: BC on April 2, 2011 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

And Time Magazine this month has an opinionator interviewing Newt Gingrich who said of course these trends showed Obama as vulnerable.

That magazine is definitely tepid. And interview with David Brooks 'I've never been right about anything in my life' and describing Downs Syndrome for fetuses as 'mild retardation'. (Fetuses with Downs Syndrome mostly don't make it to age 1, it's a severe genetic abnormality. Those that survive, well...)

Posted by: Crissa on April 2, 2011 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

But here's a problem I've never seen addressed. In the 2009 election,in a two-county state assembly district in NJ, the Democratic party had returned by the post office a stack of election mailers that measured about 7" tall. I had never seen anything like it. The stickers on the postcards read, "vacant...moved, no forwarding address...not at this address." The situation was so bad that in my own district there was a whole block on one street where all the houses had foreclosure stickers on the doors. I have no figures to back this up, but it looks like Democratic voters are much more likely to be losing homes in the mortgage crisis. When you've moved out and may not be permanently relocated yet, remembering to change a voter registration before the election is low on the priority list. And very few people know they are entitled to vote one last time in their prior area. I wonder how much this will hurt us in 2012.

Posted by: Grammy Pat on April 2, 2011 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm rather late to this thread,so this is probably a waste, but LosGatosCA has an idea that is intriguing.

Although I doubt any seriou chance of combining the Plains states, the premise of attacking on the basis of proportional representation seems like a good idea.

Posted by: DK on April 3, 2011 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK



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