Thursday, July 11, 2013

Demographic doom still awaits the GOP

By Frank Moraes

In general, I've always thought that Sean Trende is a smart guy and I will always been impressed with this discussion of the sixth year curse. And I've thought that his arguments that the Republicans can continue to win some elections as a white man's party were pretty strong. They weren't strong in the sense that they made the idea a good one. But they did show that all was not lost and most important, they gave intellectual cover for the Republican Party to do what it was doing anyway.

Finally, some actual political scientists decided to look at Trende's numbers. Yesterday, Ruy Teixeira and Alan Abramowitz wrote an article for Think Progress, No, Republicans, 'Missing' White Voters Won't Save You. They don't take on Trende's entire argument, but they destroyed its core. Trende seemed to show that the big difference between 2008 and 2012 was that a whole bunch of white voters didn't show up in 2012. The Think Progress article showed that this conclusion was based on bad data. Basically, Trende assumed what he was trying to prove. He noted that not as many white voters showed up in 2012, but he ignored the fact that not as many nonwhite voters showed up either. When this is taken into account, 2012 was not an election where there were "missing" white voters; it was an election with a smaller turnout, for all voters. As Teixeira and Abramowitz wrote:
So: GOP phone home! Your missing white voters have been found, and it turns out they weren't really missing. They were simply sitting out a relatively low turnout election along with a large number of their minority counterparts. They may be back next time if it's a higher turnout election—but then again so will a lot of minority voters. Bottom line: your demographic dilemma remains the same. The mix of voters is changing fast to your disadvantage and there is no cavalry of white voters waiting in the wings to rescue you. 

This is good advice. But it can't be a surprise, not even to Sean Trende. Thereis a demographic tidal wave coming; no one can question that. But of course, the GOP will not listen—at least not yet. As I've said all along, the party will only reform when they absolutely have no choice. As long as there is a possibility that they will regain the White House in the next election, they will remain unchanged.

The problem is that the Republicans aren't even attempting to tread water on this issue. It seems daily that the party is more and more interested in passing laws that they must know will be overturned within a generation—after they've lost all power. Do Mississippi Republicans really think that the laws they're passing now will hold as their states gets more liberal and women go with a practical ban on abortions for the next 20 years? It must be that they are either so deluded that they think eventually everyone will agree with them despite the arch of history, or they just want to change the country long enough for their old constituency to die off. Regardless, it is not the thinking of a strong party that has a promising future.

To a large extent, I've always cheered Sean Trende on because he is helping the Republican Party destroy itself. And I think this project is going pretty well. Recently, I've even begun to see the attempts at voter suppression as the pathetic last gasp of the party to stay in power. Their fall will happen. Of course, it would be better if the Republicans just reformed themselves. Unfortunately, with the Democrats so far right on economic issues, I don't think there is any real hope of that. It is going to take something calamitous. In the mean time, they will become ever more conservative and white to the point where their base is just a hollow shell. And it will crack and the party will rebuild as something new—maybe even something good.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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