Thursday, July 11, 2013

Plan B: The Women's Vote?

Michael Tomasky--who is unabashedly left-wing--addresses the "Win More Whites" GOP strategy (which now seems to be the go-to approach since immigration is dead) and concludes from a recent poll that:
White working-class young people back gay marriage to the tune of about 74 percent. Another 60 percent say immigrants strengthen the United States (the totals for allthree other age groups are below 40 percent). About 56 percent agree that changes immigrants have brought to their communities are a good thing. Nearly 40 percent agree that gays and lesbians are changing America for the better (more than double the percentages in the other three age groups). ... All in all, not your father’s white working class.
His supposition is that, even as the white electorate ages they will not become more conservative. What's his rationale for this? That today's white youth is simply further left than the other three older age-groups--which, themselves, are more similar to each other. It's the "one of these things (young people) doesn't belong" argument.

I think there's an element of truth to this: if, for example, the GOP's stance on gays is read the same way racism is today then, yeah, that may not change with age. On the other hand, I suspect the GOP is going to drop the gay-marraige issue like a used nuclear control rod. I also think that the Republican's basic economic message is going to be more resonant with people when they get older, start going to church, and get married.

Tomasky may not think so--that could be wishful thinking on his part.

On the other hand: Let's run some actual numbers.
Red States Schemd-States
The above map, taken from this article, doesn't show Republican districts vs. Democrat districts (just, uh, look where the blue is). Instead it shows counties where Obama in 2012 either did better or worse than Al Gore. Red is 'Obama did better' and blue is 'Gore did better.' What the heck?

The 'heck' is this: The author concludes that Democrats have a problem with Southern States--not 'whites in general.' The article ('Winning More White Voters Won't Save the GOP') makes the case that while the GOP may, indeed, win more whites (this is key to Sean Trende's analysis) those votes will largely be wasted by being clustered in the southern states the GOP already wins.

Sabbato's Crystal Ball goes even further. They examine Sean Trende's analysis and conclude that it may not say what he thinks it does:
Viewed from this perspective, the growing gap between the Democratic margin among white voters and the Democratic margin in the overall electorate should probably be viewed by Republican strategists not as an encouraging sign but as a source of considerable concern. What this growing gap really means is that the Democratic presidential candidate can win the national popular vote with a smaller share of the white vote with each successive election. By 2016, nonwhites should make up around 30% of the overall electorate, and the Democratic candidate would be able to win the national popular vote while losing the white vote by 24 percentage points.
If this is true, then winning whites as a percentage alone may not be sufficient should minorities (and especially blacks) keep turning out to vote. The picture above is fairly sobering: the white-vote percentage declines about 2% every four years. It isn't enough to write the Republicans off yet--but if the slice of the pie the GOP keeps winning is more and more concentrated in the south and appalachia it will be sooner than the raw numbers would indicate.

So What's Plan B?
What is Plan B? Well, how about "Win more women?" With Rubio's fortunes declining and Immigration dead in the house it is unlikely that traditionally Hispanic or Black voting blocs will become part of the GOP coalition any time soon. On the other hand, women as a bloc are incredibly important. How important? In 2012 women voters outnumbered men, clocking in at 53%! Even better? Romney did okay with them:
In 2012, Mitt Romney, won the votes of white women by a 56 to 42 percent margin and married women 53 to 46 percent. He lost women overall by a 44 to 55 percent margin.
Okay--not great--but not terrible either. Also, if you examine top issues women worry about most it turns out it's stuff like ... the economy. Largely? Not abortion (although, yes, that does play a role--but stuff like the 20-week ban isn't something women as a whole are likely to disagree with). The GOP understands this too: they are actively trying to recruit more women candidates.

This isn't to say there aren't some problems ...

For example, women are far more likely than men to support stricter gun control measures (65% of women vs. 44% of men). This poll gives women a smashing +12 points on gun control in general and a colossal +19 points on supporting a high-capacity magazine ban. In 2012 Obama polled at +8 on Healthcare for women (8% more women approved of Obama on Healthcare than disapproved) whereas men were at -2 (2% more men disapproved of Obama than approved). Although it probably isn't anyone's top priority, 77% of women approve of allowing women in combat roles (vs. 73% of men) but some members of the GOP have moved to block it.

On immigration, 51% of women prefer Obama compared to 41% of men (who prefer Reps in congress) and women get +8% over men on allowing immigrants to stay and become citizens. On abortion women are +4% over men to agree that abortion should be legal in all cases and +7% over men when "generally agreeing" with SCOTUS on Roe v. Wade.

Jennifer Rubin looks at the GOP's problems with women and concludes:
Those results and the new data about women in the workforce tell us something about the GOP’s problem with women. For one thing, they are turning off women who are mothers (but unmarried) and who greatly influence if not control outright their household income. Republicans mocked (rightly so) the Life of Julia Web ad that promised cradle-to-grave government for a woman apparently with no husband but with a child. However, they never filled in an alternative vision.
She suggests some practical policy measures such as school vouchers (where public education is seen as failing) and replacing Obamacare (which she rightly thinks probably leaves most voters--women or not--bewildered) with insurance vouchers. If certain policy positions are inflexible (immigration, guns) then perhaps some positive policies are the way to go.

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