The Republicans’ Last Hurrah?

In ‘The New Math’ Ronald Brownstein once again rehashes the dismal future of the Republican Party (see TOO articles on Brownstein and the racialization of American politics). This time he produces an exercise in number crunching showing why 2012 may be the last election in which White (read non-Jewish, European-derived) voters can determine who will be the next President of the United States of America.

Here’s the demographic electoral calculus:

  • Assumption, if not Truism, Number 1 — at least since the 1968 election, the Republicans have been the ‘implicitly White’ party, receiving around 90% of their votes from Whites; the Democrats, the ‘implicitly non-White’ (minority) party.
  • Number 2 – The factors that determine a winner in American presidential elections are turnout and support.
  • For Obama in 2012 and Democratic presidential candidates to follow, the winning formula reduces to 80/40 — get 80 percent of the minority vote and at least 40% of the White vote — provided minority turnout meets or exceeds the 26% of the vote it made up in 2008. Because the Romney-Ryan ticket is about the most egregiously White ticket imaginable, the non-White vote may be even higher than 80% for Obama. (Recall the aversion of the NYTimes’ Lee Siegal to Romney and his large White family.) And it won’t help that Ryan has a reputation for fiscal austerity—not exactly a winning formula for non-White voters dependent on government benefits. Indeed, Romney ads have accused Obama of easing the work requirement for welfare in order to appeal to his “base.”   (However, Ryan is advertising that he has a Black girlfriend and a Black sister-in-law, presumably to show his heart’s in the right place when it comes to Blacks.)
  • For Romney, in 2012 and Republican candidates to follow, the winning formula is 61/74 — he must get at least 61 percent of the White vote and Whites must turn out in high enough numbers to make up 74 percent of the votes cast on November 6th — with the caveat that minority voters aren’t enthusiastic enough about Obama and the Democrats or angry enough at Romney and the Republicans to up their turnout.
  • Hence the critical importance of ‘easing’ voter registration procedures and extending the Voting Rights Act for all eternity on the part of Dems and of insuring ‘ballot integrity’ and chipping away at the Act on the part of the GOP. Forget ‘Fast-and-Furious’; this is what the fight over Attorney General Eric Holder is really all about. If Obama gets over 80% of the minority vote, he could win re-election with less than 38% of the White vote!

For Romney, getting 61% among Whites may not prove that easy. (In fact, Romney must get an even higher percentage of European-Americans because the White category in exit polls includes groups such as Jews and Middle Easterners whose voting patterns are much more like non-White minorities.) Reagan Democrats (typically working- and middle-class ethnic White Catholics, mostly male) are not enthusiastic about an elitist-appearing Plutocrat. Nor are Southern and Midwestern Evangelicals enthusiastic about a Mormon candidate who has a reputation as a ‘RINO’ (Republican-In-Name-Only). That 61% of Whites would equal or exceed the best performance ever for a Republican presidential challenger: Eisenhower in 1952, Reagan in 1980, and George H.W. Bush in 1988 each won between 56 percent and 61 percent of White voters. What’s more, Whites have declined as a portion of the electorate in every presidential election since 1992, and, according to Brownstein, are now around 71% of the eligible voters—meaning that a greater percentage of Whites than non-Whites must vote in order to get to the 74% Brownstein says the Republicans need.

But even if Romney and the GOP squeak by this time, the odds are not good for anyone relying on the White vote to determine U.S. presidential elections in the future. The Democratic Tide is a Demographic Tsunami, with an aging White population and below-replacement birth rates.

Brownstein notes that Republican strategists recognize the problem of trying to assemble a national majority that requires winning three in five Whites and making sure they turn out in significant enough numbers. One consultant flat out told him that even if the GOP wins the White House in 2012, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this.”

Brownstein, a Jewish liberal, predictably concludes his analysis with the admonition that Republicans need to find “more effective ways to bridge the priorities of their conservative core and the diversifying Next America,” and that the task “will grow more daunting every year.” In short, rather than even considering steps toward ending non-White immigration let alone repatriating as many non-Whites as possible, Brownstein urges the GOP to cease being the, however increasingly dysfunctional, ‘implicitly White’ party.

Note, however, that Brownstein’s analysis deals only with the popular vote, not state-by-state electoral votes which are weighted in favor of the predominantly White ‘fly-over’ states. So it is not inconceivable that an energized Tea Party (another ‘implicitly White’ group) turnout in Middle America could produce a rerun of the disputed 2000 Presidential election: Obama wins the popular vote, Romney wins the determining electoral college vote — with charges of vote fraud by the GOP against the Dems and of vote suppression by the Dems against the GOP. However, unlike Bush II v. Gore, which was a fight for an open chair in the Oval Office, Obama v. Romney 2012 is a race between an incumbent president of one (minority) race and a challenger of another (majority moving toward plurality) race. The results of that race could be hot, very, very hot, perhaps the hottest in American history. It all depends on who shows up on November 6th.

(This is co-written with an author who wishes to remain anonymous.)

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