Political Animal


November 05, 2012 12:15 PM GOP’s Racial Gamble Backfiring

By Ed Kilgore

As has been evident since at least 2008 (but was best explained earlier this year by Jonathan Chait), this year’s Republican campaign has been based on a big strategic gamble that a deliberate alienation of black and brown voters would ultimately matter less than a full mobilization of Republican strength among older white voters—at least long enough to produce a GOP government that would repeal Obamacare and disable as much of the New Deal and Great Society legacy as it can reach.
A big part of that strategy, a Republican takeover of the Senate, is already on the brink of failure. But more generally, the calculation that African-American and Latino voters wouldn’t turn out at anything like 2008 levels, making elevated white vote margins for the GOP the ultimate trump card, isn’t looking as smart as it once did.

New evidence of that conclusion was supplied today by the final tracking poll from impreMedia/Latino Decisions. It shows Obama’s performance among likely Latino voters spiking just before Election Day at 73% (with 24% for Romney), which would represent the highest Latino percentage ever for a presidential candidate, and a significant improvement over Obama’s 67/31 margin in 2008.

But just as interesting is this finding:

Among likely voters, 55% say they are more enthusiastic about voting in 2012 than in 2008, with only 22% saying they were more enthusiastic in 2008. In looking to the Tuesday election, 74% of likely Latino voters say they are “very enthusiastic.”

These enthusiasm levels aren’t broken down by candidate preference, but given Obama’s margin, and the fact that we are already talking about “likely voters,” it has to be a good sign for the president.

This is, of course, just a tracking poll (as will be the Final Gallup Tracking Poll numbers that Republicans are looking forward to with bated breath); impreMedia/Latino Decisions will release a full poll of Latino voters in key states later today. But it does seem the assumption of some GOP strategists that Latinos would be so discouraged by the economy that they’d stay home while nativists snake-danced to the polls to reward the GOP for its lurch into Tancredo-land might have short-term, not just long-term, negative consequences.

UPDATE: At WaPo, Jamelle Bouie makes the important point that it’s not just immigration positioning that’s depressed Republican performance among Latinos: the GOP’s violent opposition to health reform is a big loser in this demographic, and Obama’s appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is a often-forgotten plus for him. I’d add to that the observation that the fundamental anti-government posture of today’s Republican Party is simply out of line with Latino sentiments as an “aspirational community” deeply aware of government’s role in expanding opportunity.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • stormskies on November 05, 2012 12:22 PM:

    Do we remember when the corporate props called pundits, and even the sociopath Romney himself, said that for any Repiglican to win the presidency that he/she would have to have at least %40 of the Hispanic vote ?

    What happened to this narrative ? Where did it go ? It went down the memory hole because it no longer conforms with the current narratives and story lines being peddled by the corporate props called pundits.

    However, the reality of it is just the same. Go Obama !

  • c u n d gulag on November 05, 2012 12:27 PM:


    Republicans, using wedge issues, give themselves a wedgie!

  • T2 on November 05, 2012 12:33 PM:

    the Republican Party made two big bets this time. One was that they could, in Congress, prevent the economy from improving...and blame Obama. The second was that they could, by any means necessary, limit the minority vote, since the "minority vote" is actually the Majority pretty much, and the GOP is just white men.
    They've bet the farm and billions of Citizens United dollars and if they lose, they are prepared to blame a storm.....

  • Steven Rumbalski on November 05, 2012 12:42 PM:

    Counting chickens before they're hatched, aren't we? This analysis presupposes a particular election result. Let's wait for the votes to be counted.

  • Steve LaBonne on November 05, 2012 12:48 PM:

    Steven Rumbalski, the premise remains true regardless of what happens on Tuesday. As the demographics continue to tilt against the GOP, this may be the last cycle in which they even have a shot at pulling it off. They can't continue on their current path and remain as a nationally competitive party.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on November 05, 2012 12:51 PM:

    I wonder if this "more enthusiastic in 2012 than in 2008" has anything to do with the GOP's 4-year war on voting???

    If some of these black/brown/elderly people didn't have just cause to believe that the GOP wanted to prevent them from voting, then maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't be so eager to vote these GOP asshats out of/away from political office.

    Maybe the GOP can file "limited voting rights" along with "legitimate rape" under the list entitled: Shit We Should Only Talk About in Public (if at all) via Veiled Euphemisms and Dog-Whistles That Only Our Kind Can Interpret.

    Classic backfire, says I.

  • Ron Byers on November 05, 2012 1:00 PM:

    I agree the entire Republican strategy for the last 4 years has been to hold the recovery back, blame Obama, suppress the minority vote and bet the farm that the American people our totally stupid. If, as expected, they lose tomorrow, the next big question is what do they do before January 1 when sequestration kicks in and the Bush tax cuts expire?

    I, for one, am very interested in what is going to happen after tomorrow. Just tell the President not to bid against himself. The opening bid should come from John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

    And no Steven we aren't counting our chickens before they hatch. I am still worried about voter suppression in both Ohio and Florida and anything can happen, but the final polls are bearing out what the polls have been saying for sometime now. The Republican hostage strategy is not working. The big take away from these most recent polls is voter enthusiasm is with Obama. That is totally unexpected.

  • Mimikatz on November 05, 2012 1:04 PM:

    The treatment of Latino voters more than anything illustrates the degree to which GOP strategists and die-hards are prisoners of their ideology and prejudices. This all happened before, in California in 1994, I believe it was, when Pete Wilson ran for reelection and used an initiative that deprived undocumented immigrants of essential services. It was an ugly campaign, redolent of Willie Horton, with the famous "they just keep coming" ad.

    The upshot was that millions of legal Latino immigrants became citizens to protect their ability to remain here, then through family reunification even more became citizens. And they overwhelmingly registered Democratic to the extent that California turned seemingly irrevocably Democratic. Arnold Schwartzenegger was elected Governor by appealing as an immigrant to immigrants and not demonizing them, but no other GOPer has won statewide office since 1998.

    Even George Bush understood the demographics, as did Karl Rove. But the rest are just so dense and self-referential that they can't see it. Gerrymandering and money can't trump demographics forever.

  • boatboy_srq on November 05, 2012 1:04 PM:

    @Sgt. Gym Bunny:


    I think all those laws that were only supposed to affect those people may have made a difference, as well.

    "Limited voting rights" and "voting is a privilege" need to go well and truly into history's dustbin - and "legitimate rape" needs to go in herstory's dustbin. But then, so do "homosexuality is a choice," "culture of dependency", and the whole Orwellian mess of GOTea rhetoric.

  • T2 on November 05, 2012 1:06 PM:

    if you look at the last two GOP wins, one was courtesy of the US Supreme Court and the candidate's own brother, and the other due to very strange manipulation of votes in Ohio.
    So it can happen again. The GOP wants is very badly for a very good reason, this is their last chance.

  • boatboy_srq on November 05, 2012 2:07 PM:

    The flipside to Jamelle Bouie's argument syncs well with GOTea mantras: all those Others just don't deserve the franchise, or healthcare (or even health), or any of those things, simply because they're not Anointed of Gawd.

  • zandru on November 05, 2012 3:48 PM:

    "the assumption of some GOP strategists that Latinos would be so discouraged by the economy that they’d stay home "

    And you betcha they have planted articles to try to encourage this attitude! This weekend's Abq Journal had an editorial by one Reuben Navarette Jr. who has revealed himself as a total GOP shill. He advised Latino voters to go ahead and vote - but leave the Presidential selection blank. That would "show" Obama that the Latino community was disappointed with him. That would at last give Latinos "a voice." That would prove their "self-respect." (It's the cojones, bro!)

    Enraged, I emailed a response to the Journal, citing the obvious. I noted that I could find no "Voter race/ethnicity" selector on my ballot, and that not voting meant you did NOT count.

    Frankly, I hope no New Mexicans - or any other Hispanics - were fooled by this garbage. Really, they're a lot brighter than your average white man, in my experience...

  • Vicente Fox on November 05, 2012 4:22 PM:

    T2 is right. That's why all the right-wing bloggers are predicting a landslide for Romney. So when Diebold hands over the election to the GOP, they can say "Fraud? What fraud? We were predicting a landslide and we were right."

  • Helen Bedd on November 05, 2012 6:45 PM:

    "24% for Romney"

    Wow, if that holds up it's a stunning number considering that George Bush got 41% of the Hispanic vote just eight years ago.