Friday, May 31, 2013

Courting The White Vote

What you see above is the trailer for the video Demographic Winter. This is a somber piece of film-making that states that with declining birth-rates the white western people are on the verge of being swamped by other (browner) races. It concludes that government polices don't work to improve fertility. The only answer is religion (specifically the 'be fruitful and multiply' command--hey, maybe that includes a jobs program as well?).

I'm bringing this up because the Republican strategy is starting to coalesce into two camps:
  1. Outreach to minorities
  2. Improve white-vote penetration
Indeed, these are both, despite what you might think, kind of viable approaches on the surface. We know from demographics (winter, or not) that the minority vote is growing in America and turning out to the polls more. We have already covered the need perceived by Rince Priebus and Newt Gingrich (and many others) for minority outreach.

However, there are some other voices calling for the other alternative: increasing the percent of the white population that turns out to the polls.

 For example, consider this:
The Center for Immigration Studies has used newly-released Census data to examine the 2012 presidential election. The new data show that both white and Hispanic turnout was down. Numerically, the big decline was among whites, with 4.7 million staying home on Election Day compared to 2004 -- 4.2 million of whom lacked a college education.
Indeed, some people are coming right out and saying there's no point in pursuing minorities: Phyllis Schlafly told an audience:
"I think that's a great myth because the Hispanics who come in like this are going to vote Democrat. And there is not the slightest bit of evidence they are going to vote Republican.
"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...
"The propagandists are leading us down the wrong path. There is not any evidence at all that these Hispanics coming in from Mexico will vote Republican."
And the cost-to-benefit ratio of #1 vs. #2 is pretty compelling:
To earn the popular vote with blacks and Hispanics, Romney would have needed an extra 15 or 23 percentage points, respectively. But the statistics regarding whites demonstrated how closely the Republican candidate came to a plurality win.

With one percentage point of the white vote equating to 980,000 votes, Romney would have won the popular vote with a mere three percent greater turnout.
And the momentum, such as it is, is going in the other direction anyway:
Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 89% of Republican self-identifiers nationwide in 2012, while accounting for 70% of independents and 60% of Democrats. Over one-fifth of Democrats (22%) were black, while 16% of independents were Hispanic.
So what about #2--what about a plan--a strategy (Southern ... or not) to increase the percent of the vote the GOP gets? Keep in mind that, in modern politics, the GOP always wins the white vote--it's just a question of "by how much." So is this a good plan? Are there, uhm, any problems with it?

It's RAAAACIST--Right?
Before we go straight to raaaaacism (we'll come back to it, promise), I want to back up a moment and look at something else: The relationship to marriage and the Republican vote ... for white people.
Utah: Where Women Know How To Behave!
This chart--and the whole blog post--shows that states where white marriage lasts the longest tend to be the most Republican voting:
It’s widely assumed in the press that victory in the Electoral Collegeis determined by the Gender Gap or by the Rising Tide of Hispanic Voters or whatever. But in fact the relationship between these demographic factors and whether a state votes Republican or Democratic in the four Presidential elections of this century has been relatively weak.
. . .
[The] metric: average years married among white women ages 18 to44 on the 2000 Census (what I’ll call “Years Married” for short).
“Years Married” had its best won-loss record yet in 2012. Mitt Romney carried 23 of the 24 highest-ranked states. Barack Obama won 25 of the 26 lowest-ranked states.
Now, this guy does note that these correlations don't work for non-whites (how long a non-white couple has been married isn't as strong a correlation)--and correlation doesn't equal causation (does anyone think Romney's historic vote win in Utah is because of marriage ... or Mormonism--but do note that McCain won Utah which also came out on top in 2008).

But this statistic is important--if states where white people are married the longest tend to vote Republican then the future of the Republican party--for whatever reason--may well hinge on how that number trends over time.

Let's Look At Something Else: Seeeeeexism
Just because, eh?
Erick Erickson. FOX Would Have A More Flattering Picture, Right?
Erick Erickson of Red State and FOX contributor took on the recent findings that today, 40% of American households have mothers as their key breadwinner. Erickson said:
“I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role.”
He went on to say that  “Having mom as primary bread winner is bad for kids and bad for marriage.” On his site, Red State, in a post called The Truth May Hurt, But Is Not Mean:
I also noted that the left, which tells us all the time we’re just another animal in the animal kingdom, is rather anti-science when it comes to this. In many, many animal species, the male and female of the species play complementary roles, with the male dominant in strength and protection and the female dominant in nurture. It’s the female who tames the male beast. One notable exception is the lion, where the male lion looks flashy but behaves mostly like a lazy beta-male MSNBC producer.
. . .
“Three-fourths of those surveyed say these mothers make raising children harder, and half worry that it’s bad for marriages. About half of those surveyed felt it was better if mothers stayed home with young children. In contrast, 8 percent thought itwas better if fathers did.”
Erickson's point about most people thinking it's best if mom raises the kids isn't what's important here: The key take-away for purposes of this discussion is whether or not female head-of-household breadwinners are bad for marriage or not. The Fox group pretty clearly thought they were (and bad for kids too).

In other words, the issue of higher-earning women in a household isn't just bad sociologically--it's bad for Republicans ... and so it's good for Democrats.

What Does That Mean?
There's this song called The Accidental Racist where a guy (in the South?) goes into a Starbucks wearing a Confederate battle-flag shirt because he, you know, digs Lynyrd Skynyrd--has nothing to do with the South rising again--pinky-swear--and the (black) guy behind the counter come to a kind of accord on the whole acceptance thing.

It got, rightly, I think, panned--and in ballad form it's certainly cringe-inducing to me. However, it inadvertently makes a point: you actually can be racist without actually meaning to be. If you cloak yourself in the trappings of something that (a) has a racially charged history and (b) is currently being used explicitly as a symbol of racial oppression* then you are, at least semi-legitimately, open to charges of racism.

I'm not calling the GOP racist here.

I'm saying they're 'accidental' sexists.

The problem here is that the sense that traditional marriage (both between a man and a woman--and until death do us part) is good for the GOP doesn't need any fancy charts, tables, or data: it's baked in. Utterly. Divorce rates? Sign of decline. Lower marriage rates (especially among the lower income brackets)? Sign of collapse. Women working outside the home rather than raising children? To use an Obama quote: "Not optimal." Women earning more than men? Against nature.

Now--what happens when we extrapolate those base-points? More women than men on campus? Not good (that's part of what gets them out of the house, right?). How about No-Fault Divorce? Bad--real bad. How about about access to abortion? Lowers marriage rates (or, at least, postpones marriage). NOT GOOD.

Okay--so how about, uhm, contraception? It threatens marriage (more scientific studies decide it either postpones or (maybe) leads to a decline in the marriage rate).

By the time we're talking about whether contraception is good for married families--which are good for the Republican party--we're in the accidental war-on-women zone.We just wound up there--took a left at College-Campus-Cohabitation and, uh, kept on going. Honest.

And Racism?
When what's good for your party is white married families--then you start to look at policy decisions through a particular lens.

Like this one:
JASON RICHWINE, a co-author of the widely trashed Heritage Foundation study on the the costs of immigration, "resigned" his post at Heritage Friday after his doctoral dissertation on immigration and IQ fell under a shadow of suspected racism. Harvard awarded Mr Richwine a PhD in 2009 for work arguing that Hispanic immigrants are less intelligent than non-Hispanic white Americans, that this gap has a genetic basis, and that immigration policy should discriminate against less intelligent groups of people, albeit under the cover of the language of "low skill" and "high skill" immigrants.
And this one:
The conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation is out with a new report today predicting sky-high costs – to the tune of $6.3 trillion – associated with the legalization of about 11 million undocumented immigrants if the “Gang of Eight” bill becomes law.
. . .
Alex Nowrasteh, a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, cautioned in a post in April that the 2007 report was riddled with errors that Heritage would be wise to address in its update. Nowrasteh cited several methodological choices that he said overstates the net cost of legalization.
These may not be driven by racism but they're difficult to distinguish when so many people on the Republican team (not to mention Dems) are crying foul at this material (and it does seem to be somewhat shoddily done). The Heritage Foundation study caused Florida GOP Latino Outreach head Pablo Pantoja to quit the party.

Keep in mind that if what you need are more married white households to win elections--and winning elections is your highest level goal--you don't want a massive wave of non-white immigration--whether or not it's good for America in general. On the other hand, just as with the defense-of-marriage stance ... it leads you into some tricky territory very, very quickly.

Back To The White-People Plan vs. The Outreach Plan
I've been walking through a chain of logic here which has dutifully led away from where it ought to have gone  in the first place. Did you notice? Remember our two offered plans:
  1. Outreach to minorities
  2. Improve white-vote penetration
What's missing is serious discussion around the stated assumption by people proposing #2 that it's exclusive to #1. Most people proposing #1 think that 'positive polices for the middle class' can, and will, appeal to both whites and non-whites--but for people like CIS and Phyllis Schlafly it goes one way or the other. She said it: "The propagandists are leading us down the wrong path. There is not any evidence at all that these Hispanics coming in from Mexico will vote Republican."

Why not? If the theory is "Because they are takers--and we can only support makers" that's racist. If there's some other reason--cloaked in a bunch of riddled-with-holes logic and studies serious people get embarrassed over? Well, that's racist too.

* Best Quote: “I found a population that seriously entertained the idea that this world would have been a better place had the South won,” Scott wrote. “This population routinely acts out its beliefs in elaborate alternate-reality events, not just re-enactments but also many other public and private functions that combine implicit racism with political magical thinking, ‘If I wish hard enough, the values of the Confederacy will return,’ and with personal magical thinking ‘Here I am, the dashing Confederate officer I rightfully should be rather than the low-level functionary that I am at work.’

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