Is the GOP becoming the White Man’s Party?

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Crazy Uncle Pat Buchanan was a firm believer in the GOP Southern Strategy of appealing to the racism of white voters against African-Americans when he worked for Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The Southern Strategy is sometimes referred to as “white grievance” against federal enforcement of civil rights laws for African-Americans and intervention on their
behalf, including the passage of the Voting Rights Act. It is a political strategy of racial polarization.

Back in May, crazy Uncle Pat Buchanan wrote an article calling for a new Southern Strategy against Latino voters. Pat Buchanan Calls For ‘Southern Strategy’ Against Latinos, Immigrants:

In an article published by the website World Net Daily last week, Buchanan describes increased black voter turnout and Latino demographic growth as a “crisis for the Grand Old Party.” To combat it, the conservative pundit implies that the Republican Party should adopt a new version of the “Southern Strategy” revolving around immigration.

At the time, the commentariat largely dismissed this as just crazy Uncle Pat spouting off his usual racist ranting again.

But it was followed up by a similar comment from Christian Right icon Phyllis Schlafly. Conservative Icon Calls GOP’s Need To Court Hispanics A ‘Great Myth’:

“The Hispanics who have come in like this will vote Democrat and there’s
not the slightest bit of evidence that they will vote Republican,”
Schlafly said on “Focus Today.” “And the people the Republicans should
reach out to are the white votes, the white voters who didn’t vote in
the last election and there are millions of them.”

This notion that the GOP need only appeal to white voters — whom apparently conservatives believe are all racists who harbor white grievances against minorities (a bit of projection?) — to increase the share of white voter turnout in elections has gained traction on the far-right.

Sean Trende has written a series of analytical columns at RealClearPolitics
suggesting that the more obvious route to a Republican majority, at
least over the next couple of decades, is to intensify the GOP’s appeal
to “missing white voters.” Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal blog explains,
Doubling Down on the White Man’s Party:

Immediately after the 2012 elections, Trende began arguing that the big story in the Obama/Romney contest was a major drop-off in white voting:

If we build in an estimate for the growth of the various
voting-age populations over the past four years and assume 55 percent
voter turnout, we find ourselves with about 8 million fewer white voters
than we would expect given turnout in the 2008 elections and population
growth.

Had the same number of white voters cast ballots in 2012 as
did in 2008, the 2012 electorate would have been about 74 percent white,
12 percent black, and 9 percent Latino (the same result occurs if you
build in expectations for population growth among all these groups). In
other words, the reason this electorate looked so different from the
2008 electorate is almost entirely attributable to white voters staying
home. The other groups increased their vote, but by less than we would
have expected simply from population growth.

Trende quickly threw water on the idea—to which a lot of conservative
readers might have immediately gone—that these “missing white voters”
were southern evangelicals “discouraged” by Romney’s alleged moderation
or his obvious Mormonism. In a subsequent article, published late last week, he was much more specific:

The drop in turnout occurs in a rough diagonal, stretching
from northern Maine, across upstate New York (perhaps surprisingly,
turnout in post-Sandy New York City dropped off relatively little), and
down into New Mexico. Michigan and the non-swing state, non-Mormon
Mountain West also stand out. Note also that turnout is surprisingly
stable in the Deep South; Romney’s problem was not with the Republican
base or evangelicals (who constituted a larger share of the electorate
than they did in 2004).

For those with long memories, this stands out as the heart
of the “Perot coalition.” That coalition was strongest with secular,
blue-collar, often rural voters who were turned off by Bill Clinton’s
perceived liberalism and George H.W. Bush’s elitism. They were largely
concentrated in the North and Mountain West: Perot’s worst 10 national
showings occurred in Southern and border states. His best showings?
Maine, Alaska, Utah, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and
Minnesota.

This profile of the “missing white voters” of 2012—which is
suggestive rather than definitive, since the Perot “coalition” Trende’s
talking about arose a full two decades ago—will smell like catnip to
those proposing some sort of conservative “populist” makeover for the
GOP. And it would also reinforce the idea that being opposed to
immigration reform might (a) not really cost the GOP votes they had no
realistic chance of winning anyway, and (b) appeal in a positive way to
the “missing white voters” who are reflexively nativist
.

In his latest piece in the series,
Trende tries to put his numbers together into a future scenario, as
part of an argument that winning a higher percentage of Latino voters
isn’t the exclusive GOP survival strategy it’s cracked up to be.

* * *

I’m less interested in Trende’s data than in the meme that may emerge
from over-simplistic repetition of his bottom line by conservative
gabbers with a big ax to grind, the important thing is that he projects
Republicans could win presidential elections from 2016 through 2040
by gradually increasing its percentage of the white vote (which of
course will have to turn out to an extent that it did not in 2012) even if minority voters tilt even more heavily to the Democrats than they do today
.

This really just illustrates an overlooked point. Democrats
liked to mock the GOP as the “Party of White People” after the 2012
elections. But from a purely electoral perspective, that’s not a
terrible thing to be
. Even with present population projections, there
are likely to be a lot of non-Hispanic whites in this country for a very
long time. Relatively slight changes among their voting habits can
forestall massive changes among the non-white population for a very long
while.

You can imagine the interpretation many on the Right will impose on Trende’s numbers: If we racially polarize the country, we win!
And from that point of view, killing off an immigration bill they hate
anyway, and which they believe will just create more Democratic voters,
is really a no-brainer, and just the first step towards the winning
white party of the future. Be forewarned.

Ed Kilgore follows up today,

New Deal:

[A]t some point all those observers who assert or assume Republican
obstruction of immigration reform disguises not only the hope that it is
enacted, but a frantic need for its enactment, are going to
have to come to grips with a strong counter-narrative. As I noted last
week, conservatives are rapidly beginning to buy into the “missing white voter” hypothesis which makes the Latino vote, even in a presidential year, a minor consideration rather than an existential threat.

Taking the “missing white voter” meme seriously doesn’t necessarily mean accepting Sean Trende’s analysis
of the numbers. But it does mean understanding how incredibly tempting
it is (to use the phrase I’ve coined for other occasions, it’s a
bottomless crack pipe) to conservatives who don’t want to change their
ideology or make policy concessions to seek demographic salvation via a
stronger appeal to white folks.

Rather than “rebrand” and “evolve,” many on the conservative right would rather double-down on the Southern Strategy of white grievance and racial polarization than change their ways.

UPDATE: FAUX News buys into the “missing white voter” meme of Sean Trende. Hume: Hispanics Not As Important To GOP As White Voters (VIDEO): Fox News anchor Brit Hume called “baloney” Monday on the notion that
House Republicans must help approve the immigration reform legislation
that just passed the Senate, arguing that Hispanic voters are still not
as important to the GOP as white voters.

2 responses to “Is the GOP becoming the White Man’s Party?

  1. (Finally getting back into writing political comments after a six months ‘vacation.’ Moving, dusting 2500 books, dealing with the final end of Kittenz’ struggle with diabetes, arthritis and blindness, and getting used to my knees on stairs — some vacation. Not to mention the distraction the classic mysteries I have been able to buy with the additional money from the move.)

    Anyway, this whole argument shows the usual ridiculousness of Republicans in stark contrast to reality. (Sadly, I have, much less frequently, seen equivalent arguments from progressive Democrats.)

    The flaw is so obvious it can be invisible. People have more than one identity. It is as simple as that. I am, for example,
    White
    Male
    Bisexual (and the child of a lesbian parent)
    an Atheist
    a Baseball fan
    a Classic Mystery fan
    a lifelong New Yorker
    a lifelong Progressive Democrat
    an anti-racist since I first discovered it (in the letter columns of an early SI, of all places, so my baseball fan status proved relevant)
    someone who has, until quite recently, only survived through the help of government assistance — to the point of having lived in a men’s shelter for six months 30 years ago
    an amateur historian and ‘legal junkie’ who has followed politics since age 10
    generally anti-war but not a total pacifist (I approved of Gulf War 1 and Afghanistan, for example)
    a rationalist and — in the SKEPTICAL INQUIRER sense — a skeptic with a particular hatred of medical quackery

    etc., etc. for at least another hundred factors that make up ‘Prup’ (including knowing the Gilbert and Sullivan line that is the acronym that makes Prup — and the radio experience that caused me to discover it).

    Each of you have ‘identities’ at least as complex, and it is only reasonably certain you can even tell which will be the relevant piece towards a given decision.

    Ooookay, now, Mr. Republican, try to get my vote by seeing only, and appealing only to, my ‘whiteness.’

    Let’s take another example. A woman, married, three kids and knows they are all she can afford, with a gay sister, and parents who are suffering badly because a) they lost money in the Bush Crash; b) they spent many years tithing to a pastor who proved to be both a con man and a hypocrite — who had turned them against their gay daughter until they realized what they were doing to her; and c) have serious medial expenses and live in a state where the governor won’t implement Obamacare or even provide Medicaid to couples without young children. How likely is she to put an appeal to ‘racial solidarity’ above these life experiences and go for the local “Christianist,” homophobic, Paulista Republican candidate?
    So go ahead, republicans, take a ‘turn to the white’ and you’ll be left — behind, that is, and not in the LeHayian sense.

  2. I am a white man and I do not want anything to do with these privileged bigots, most who are making decisions were born into privilege!