The Great Party Switch

The center-left American Prospect publishes an analysis and review of a new Yale University book “Latino America” by two scholars (Baretto and Segura) documenting ‘the great party switch.’  They are referring to the fact that, back when I was a girl, Republicans could win the White House as often as Democrats, but were shut out of Congressional majorities. Now Republicans control both houses of Congress, but have a harder time assembling a national majority.

Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, these authors argue, changed American politics by cementing the GOP as the party of white evangelicals.  But in so doing, they did not calculate that they would make national victories less likely by reducing the GOP appeal to other voters.  (This conventional analysis is the intellectual basis of the great and failed “truce strategy” among the GOP).

The demographic shift has famously intensified the GOP’s problems in a higher turnout national election.  Since 1992, the electorate has gone from 13 percent to 28 percent nonwhite.  Latinos represent the bulk of these new Americans, and they remain a swing vote: “The large majority of Latinos have traditionally supported the Democratic party and its candidates. But that support has varied considerably from election to election. . . a majority of Latinos have voted for a Republican candidate at least once.”

Barreto and Segura are convinced social issues have no appeal to Latino voters, but so long as Republican candidates operate under the truce handcuffs, that is something we can’t know.  It is probably not a coincidence that the last Republican elected president, who was elected by “values voters” in 2004, also won 40 percent of the Latino vote. Continue Reading

Who are the Most Valuable Voters of 2016?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Last week, National Journal published a piece by Ronald Brownstein entitled “The Most Valuable Voters of 2016.” The subtitle sums it up well: “The election may come down to turning out minority voters and wooing seniors in the battleground states.”

It is an analysis of changing demographics in the swing states for the presidential race. It first looks at the declining white vote share across the five states in the Sun Belt: Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, and Nevada. “In all five states the model projects that by 2016 the white voter share will drop at least 3 percentage points from where it was as recently as 2008.” The article also points out that the Democratic strategy in the two most recent presidential elections was to mobilize and enhance turnouts of key coalition members, particularly minorities.

In the six Rust Belt swing states (Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), the model projects that adults fifty and older will constitute at least 45 percent of eligible voters by 2016. “The tendency of older adults to outpunch their weight in the actual voting pool magnifies the implications of these changes.”

The article goes on to quote Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political scientist: “While the staunchly conservative Silent Generation dominates today’s senior population, Democrats may benefit over time as more of the early baby boomers, who lean somewhat more left in their preferences, move into retirement. And Clinton could be better suited than Obama to compete for older whites.”

Observations:

1) Republicans could imitate the Democrats in stimulating turnout among core constituencies, particularly white evangelicals, millions of whom sat out the last two presidential races. Continue Reading