Thursday, August 28, 2014

Demographic Winner! (and Losers)

The term "Demographic Winter" comes from a movie and a philosophy that western civilization is in demographic decline due to falling birth-rates amongst 'westerners' and / or climbing birth-rates among 'non-westerners' (or maybe immigration of ... erm ... brown people?). The specific movie is far more concerned with the US adopting a biblically-based 'Be Fruitful and Multiply' policy--but the idea that Winter Is Coming is floating around out there when people postulate, say, a Blue Texas or the results of 'Amnesty.'

Politico looks at two Republican-commissioned studies on the gender gap (hey, women are a demographic!):
Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO. It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved.
Larry Sabato's latest Crystal Ball finds that contrary to what some people have suggested, adopting a Libertarian position won't help the GOP with young people:
Based on these results, nominating libertarian candidates would be unlikely to improve the Republican Party’s performance among younger voters because these voters are much more likely to be liberals than libertarians and because the vast majority of those who do hold libertarian views already identify with the Republican Party and vote for Republican candidates. In order to increase their party’s appeal to younger Americans, Republicans would need to nominate candidates who are considerably more liberal on both economic and cultural issues than the party’s recent presidential nominees or the vast majority of its current congressional candidates.
Even worse ...
The libertarian philosophy of limited government holds very little appeal to nonwhite voters in general, and it holds even less appeal to younger nonwhite voters. Only 4% of nonwhite voters under the age of 30 were classified as libertarians compared with 23% of white voters under the age of 30. In contrast, 69% of younger nonwhite voters were classified as consistent or moderate liberals compared with 49% of younger white voters. These results suggest that the limited appeal of libertarian ideas to younger voters is likely to diminish further over time as the nonwhite share of this age group continues to grow.
As the future marches forward more non-white voters are slated to come online and more staunch GOP white voters are going to ... erm ... die off (The GOP's base is old and they are not replenishing their demographic as quickly as they might).

This is not to say all is lost. While political positions are formed early on in life (and tend to be held), the current crop of millennial voters may not like Republicans much--but are not infatuated with Obama either. Also, let's not forget that the Obama coalition might not be the Democratic coalition--Erick Erickson thinks that despite turning out pretty well two general elections in a row the current crop of Obama voters are going to stay home for the next DNC candidate:
This goes into the greater box of Democratic Party problems. The coalition of people who helped Barack Obama get elected in 2008 and 2012 is not the Democrats’ coalition. They think it is. They want it to be so. But it was and is Barack Obama’s coalition. 
These people do not turn out for other Democrats in off year elections. And in on-year elections, they turn out committed to Barack Obama. By the time 2016 gets here, Obama is going to be a social pariah among Democrats. He will be radioactive. They will want nothing to do with him. And he is completely all about himself.
Well ... maybe.

But the interesting thing about these trends is why people think they are happening. Oh, sure, the going story is that the Democrats control colleges and the media and have spun a diabolical narrative about Republican racism that blacks (and, uh, women) have swallowed up and been turned against the party of true empowerment (and that the young are swayed by false equivalency of civil rights and gay rights).

As a this goes, it is far more conspiracy theory than actual testable theorem: you have to cant the lens of history and messaging just right in order to see things that way--but more important than the narrative is the actual numbers. The underlying data that Republicans will use is that Barack Obama has been bad for blacks--that they have fallen further behind under him--and that, were they rational, they would therefore vote against him.

This is the same for women: Obama has been terrible for them! He has diminished their numbers in the work-force, increased their property taxes ... and the price of gasoline! Why would any woman vote for him!??

The young are all out of work and in debt--THANKS OBAMA!

If this all seems a bit thin (gasoline? Graduation rates in the black community link directly to Obama?) you have to understand that this is a response to an underlying issue of fairness. Don't Actions Speak Louder Than Words? Republicans find a stubborn double standard in politics (and life) where certain demographics are willing to accept the message from one party (the Democrats in this case)--but not the other (Republicans) and it seems to them that no amount of explaining will get around that intellectual blockade.

This imperviousness to Republican messaging has been blamed on the media, on a few bad apples saying stupid things (the "Keep your mouth shut about rape at ALL COSTS" approach to teaching candidates how to talk), and to failure to elegantly handle certain hot-button issues ("Man, just keep saying that you're personally against abortion but, hey, it's up to the states and the courts now--HOW HARD IS THAT!?").

It also seems unfair that, for example, Romney gets called racist for everything--but nobody cares about Democrat's racism!

Whatever is driving this mysterious double-standard, it is the engine behind the demographic winter the Republicans are facing if, indeed, they are facing one (a lot of Republicans think they are and, erm, exit-polls--so we'll assume for this article there actually is a race / gender gap that'll be somewhat persistent).

The Omnivore is Going To Explain The Double Standard
Let's get this out of the way first: the idea that blacks vote for Obama--or unmarried women in general--or the young--because of 'gifts' like Obama-phones or 'free' birth control is not the reason: if you are seriously suggesting that, you are perpetuating the double standard--you're part of the problem.

However, the underlying reason that the voting is going the way it is actually comes close: demographics vote as they do because of self-interest.

Like, say for example, you were 65 or over and some guy they call 'Kid Serious' has this plan to yank your benefits away--might you turn out to vote against ... okay, The Omnivore won't go there--but that's because he doesn't have to: you voted your self interest in 2012 too. You just voted for lower taxes on your yacht because they're already too high and, hey, you've hired Jose to wash the deck--you're a job-creator!

No--the reason why Harry Reid gets a pass for calling Obama a clean, articulate, light-skinned, candidate with 'no negro dialect' (would he say a female candidate was 'clean and articulate'?) and Romney got beat up for 'Binders Full of Women' (when it was clear he meant he had a lot of resumes from women and did, in fact, hire a bunch of them) is because while Actions Speak Louder Than Words, the problem is that in the case of actions you haven't taken yet, the issue is trust.

Basically, Democrats have a higher degree of trust with women and blacks ... and the young on social issues, than Republicans do. The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. Positive Feedback Loops (did you expect that?)
  2. Broad Scale Branding (if you read The Omnivore, you ought to have expected that)

Positive Feedback Loops

A positive feedback loop is when you have some dynamic and when it happens you get more of it. The positive feedback loop in this case has to do with black representation and attention to women's issues (and social issues) in the parties. Look at the pictures from the last DNC and RNC conventions--look at the races and genders in the audience. Look at the ages.

When you have more young people leaning towards a party, that party will be more attentive to young people. When you have more single women identifying with a party, that party will talk more about women's issues in ways they like. The reverse is true: when your party base is older, whiter, and male, the party's behavior will privilege that over young, multi-racial, and female.

When this starts the gap is fairly slim--as it continues though, it gets more and more severe until it becomes extremely difficult to change (see the Ryan Budget getting dropped like a potato with stolen plutonium stuffed inside it).

The GOP has optimized for their feedback loop. It's worked well for them. But as they say in poker, going All In is the strategy that always works ... until it doesn't.

When a party seems to be "composed of you," you are more likely to trust them with future decisions. When your party does not look like you and they ask you to take them at their word that their policies will help you, you would be right not to be credulous: they don't have (your) skin in the game.

Republican Branding

The reason The Omnivore talks about branding (as opposed to endlessly argued facts of who did more of what) is because you can't dispute it. The Republican brand is damaged by being partially racist, male-dominated, and old / socially-conservative. If you think this is not the case in the general populace, you have not been paying attention. You can question whether or not it is right--but not that it has happened. The numbers are in and they are not good.

The solution is also not what you think it is: changing your behavior alone is not the easiest way to change your brand. Changing your behavior--let's say, nominating more women and blacks? Reaching out to the young on your strong suits? Backing off on abortion rhetoric (IT'S UP TO THE COURTS!!) is the slow way to move the dial. People don't necessarily notice. It doesn't show a big-picture consistent program to address things.

The problem is not small: There were three massive branding mistakes (the Bush presidency, the Tea Party, and the 2012 Republican debates) but the current issue is that the crisis has hit and the GOP needs to do damage control.

How do you do that? Basically? It's the damage-control playbook: issue a solid but not maudlin apology, promise to correct behavior, put controls in place to correct that behavior, and then drive on with relentlessly positive messaging.

Did your jaw drop? What? Is the GOP supposed to apologize for being racist? Sexist? No. Here are some positions the RNC / Republicans could take:
  1. Stop being friendly to Confederate Flags, which was the symbol of a racist state that Republicans fought a war against, at Republican gatherings--people displaying them will be asked to remove them ... or leave.
  2. They can have a standard that the RNC will not fund candidates who say things about rape that are deemed offensive (and use community ire to determine that). This was effectively done to Todd Akin--but could become actual policy.
  3. Does not want the vote, fiscal support, or volunteer assistance of anyone who uses the n-word in conversation or on message boards (this should lose you zero votes, eh?).
  4. Understands that opinions on same-sex marriage are hurtful to many (as opposed to just being "an opinion"--like on Global Warming) and will not be part of the party platform (although candidates are free to hold and espouse any opinion on the subject).
  5. They believe all people in the united states who are undocumented should leave expeditiously, that the borders should be sealed and patrolled, and that employment should go only to people in the country legally--and that, if technically and economically possible, that should be verified. These people will be referred to as "Undocumented persons"--not illegals, invaders, or even criminals.
If you are conservative and reading that ... what did you think? 

That it would destroy the GOP?

If you even wondered about that, that, right there is the source of the lack of trust.

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