Friday, June 21, 2013

Where Have All The (White) Voters Gone?

Sean Trende has an extremely interesting piece of analysis on the 2012 Presidential Election. Much has been made of white turn-out being low. Who didn't show up? Ross Perot voters!
Perhaps most intriguingly, even after all of these controls are in place, the county’s vote for Ross Perot in 1992 comes back statistically significant, and suggests that a higher vote for Perot in a county did, in fact, correlate with a drop-off in voter turnout in 2012.
What does that tell us about these voters? As I noted, they tended to be downscale, blue-collar whites. They weren’t evangelicals; Ross Perot was pro-choice, in favor of gay rights, and in favor of some gun control. You probably didn’t know that, though, and neither did most voters, because that’s not what his campaign was about.
It's interesting to note that (as Trende does) Hillary Clinton, at least today, does better with these guys than almost anyone else (I bet Chris Christie could give her a run for that money--but I don't think that'll happen). The numbers are important: these are not Southern Evangelicals who, despite their rhetoric, did turn out for Romney. It gives credence to the theory that a sufficiently charismatic person with a solid populist economic message (which Perot had) could make the GOP viable without the Hispanic vote.

This is a--perhaps the--important tactical consideration going into 2016. Let's look at how certain demographics shifted between 2008 and 2012:
Self Deportation: NOT A BIG WINNER
What this shows is how, by demographic, turn-out improved or declined from McCain to Romney. NOTE: These are people who supported McCain in 2008--not the demographic as a whole. Over-40's moved strikingly to Romney. Swing-sates, the Northeast, and, most prominently, Hispanics, abandoned the Republican candidate.

We can also see the 50k per year and up crowd gravitating towards Romney. Those making less than 20k per year? No.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that whatever else Romney may or may not have done he really, really lost the Hispanic vote that otherwise might've been his.

Sean Trende has written before that voting coalitions are like water balloons: you push one side and the other pops up. If you alienate Latinos in Arizona you can pick up whites. Trende is level-headed and hardly radical. He's also making his point from the basis of math: demographically speaking policy decisions may well be zero sum. If one group "wins," someone else "loses."

Considering that white people are still the majority in America and Romney's platform which, let's face it, really had very, very little to do with immigration as any kind of priority, somehow lost potentially friendly Hispanics like blood from the femoral artery it probably does make sense to focus on the other side of the equation.

Certainly Bobby Jindal seems to think that playing to the base is the way to get a leg up on the 2016 competition:
[The] left wants: The government to explode; to pay everyone; to hire everyone; they believe that money grows on trees; the earth is flat; the industrial age, factory-style government is a cool new thing; debts don’t have to be repaid; people of faith are ignorant and uneducated; unborn babies don’t matter; pornography is fine; traditional marriage is discriminatory; 32 oz. sodas are evil; red meat should be rationed; rich people are evil unless they are from Hollywood or are liberal Democrats; the Israelis are unreasonable; trans-fat must be stopped; kids trapped in failing schools should be patient; wild weather is a new thing; moral standards are passé; government run health care is high quality; the IRS should violate our constitutional rights; reporters should be spied on; Benghazi was handled well; the Second Amendment is outdated; and the First one has some problems too.
The take-away isn't that Jindal is sounding off--which is what the link takes him to task for--the real meaning here is this: Jindal, looking at what has happened to Rubio, has made his decision on where to come down. It's no more "Don't be the stupid party" or "stop being the party of the rich"--it's "the tide will turn our way because Liberals are doomed."

To be fair, Liberals do think trans-fat must be stopped, that the Second Amendment is outdated, and that pornography is fine. It's less clear that 'they' think traditional marriage is discriminatory or that red meat should be rationed--but whatever. The point is not the validity of the message but the existence of it at all. Jindal has decided to play 'close to the net' (the base) and I suspect we'll see other people making the same calls until conditions change.

About the only person who can't do that is Chris Christie so he may be the lone voice of bi-partisanship in the near future.

So in case you were wondering who, of the current roster, seems like they might have blue-collar North-leaning populist cred? I'ma go with Rick Santorum 2016. He's the choice of a new generation!


  1. I'm pretty sure Jeb would win against pretty much anyone.

  2. Seriously? Santorum? That would be totally self-destructive. But then again, the GOP has been just that for several years now.

    1. Heh. Well ... he checks the blue-collar box. He's populist (depending on your definition of populist). But, uh, yeah--he'd be a disaster. That was sorta my point.