It’s time to Break It Down!
The U.S. Census Bureau released a report a week ago today that revealed, among other things, that the white vote is diminishing in influence, as well as in raw numbers. As facts go, this single unit of data has multiple implications. Undoubtedly, reverberations from the resulting trend will be seen, heard, and felt across the political landscape.
Specific findings include:
- For the first time since 1996, when the Census Bureau began collecting this data, whites voted at a lower rate (64.1 percent of eligible voters) than blacks (66.2 percent of eligible voters). Moreover, the total number of white voters decreased by roughly 2 millions in 2012 as compared to 2008, the first time since 1996 that a race group has seen a diminution in net votes cast. Add to that, in the last five presidential elections, the white share of the electorate dipped nine points, the Hispanic share rose four points, and African American votes increased three percentage points.
- The Hispanic community in the United States is growing rapidly, and because of it, is critical to the future electoral calculus of both Parties. In its present state, the Hispanic vote is skewed disproportionately toward Democrats. However, in 2012, only 48% of eligible Hispanic voters exercised their franchise. That is slightly above the 45% level in 1996, and less than the 49.9% of the vote that turned out in 2008. Note as a point of comparison that the percentage of African Americans who voted increased from 53% in 1996 to 66.2% in 2012. Of course, even casual observers would note, Barack Obama was not on the ballot in 1996. Still, the Hispanic community has not effectively translated its gross numerical increase to a comparable advantage at the polls. “Despite having an increased share of the voting population in every presidential election since 1996, Hispanics have still accounted for a smaller percentage of actual votes cast than their share of the eligible electorate would indicate,” according to the Census report.
- In every election since 1996, eligible voters have increased in numbers. That was true in 2012, but not by much. In 2012, the total number of votes cast was about 133 million. That represents an increase over 2008 of roughly 1.8 million votes. That is the smallest increase in raw votes in the last four elections. An interesting phenomenon is that gains by black voters (1.7 million more votes than in 2008) and Hispanics (1.4 million more votes than in 2008) were offset by the decline in white voters (2 million fewer votes).
- President Obama dominated the youth vote in 2008, and again in 2012. However, it was not the President’s ability to get youth to vote in historic numbers, that carried the day, but his penchant for consolidating a substantial majority of youth votes into pro-Obama votes. Exit polling showed that voters 18-29 made up 18% and 19% of the electorate in 2008 and 2012, respectively. That is actually below the level the youth vote garnered in the 80’s, when it was typically 20% or more of the overall electorate. The Census Bureau found that for 2012, this segment actually comprised just 15% of the electorate. However, the President won 66% of votes among this age group in 2008, and 60% in 2012.
So, let us summarize the crisis of the Grand Old Party:
Minorities, people of color – Hispanic, black, Asian – gave 80 percent of their votes to President Obama. Minorities’ share of the electorate was only 26 percent in 2012; yet, minorities constitute 36.3 percent of the population. Oh yeah, their share of both the electorate and the population is rising inexorably.
President Obama captured only 39 percent of the white vote in 2012; the lowest of any victorious presidential candidate. Of course, by carrying people of color 4 to 1, he did not need anymore.
In interpreting the mounting array of intel found in the Census Bureau’s treasure trove of statistics chronicling what reads like the decline of the Republican Party and Brand, there is impetus to pose a question. Is there any good news for the GOP? Well, in fact, yes there is.
Consider the spike in African American turnout in 2008 and again in 2012. It is not difficult to impute that the tremendous turnout of black Americans was due to what some might call the Obama Factor. The President in 2012 was under ferocious attack and in danger of all out repudiation. As a result, black folks turned out to rescue the first black President. This will not be a dynamic of the 2016 race.
However, there is more bad news for the GOP. Yes, the Hispanic vote rose by 1.4 million between 2008 and 2012, even though 12 million eligible Hispanics did not vote. Governor Romney lost the Hispanic vote 71-27. If Democrats actually create a concerted and energized effort to get out the Hispanic vote, the GOP will fell the repercussions.
On 48 percent of Asians voted. However, when they did vote, they went 70 percent Democratic. Asians’ voting numbers are also expanding; as more go to the polls, the difficulties faced by the GOP continue to mount.
In the face of this series of grave concerns, what is the Republican response?
At least one group of the GOP brain trust, led by Senators Marco Rubio, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, are pushing for amnesty and a “path to citizenship” for the 11 to 12 million aliens in the country today.
Who, exactly, are these people? Perhaps half are Hispanic, but interestingly, 90 percent are people of color, who once registered, vote 4-to-1 Democratic. In addition, each year a million new immigrants enter and move onto a fast track for citizenship. Between 80 and 90 percent now come from Third Word, and once naturalized, they vote 80 percent Democratic.
How did we get here? Richard Nixon constructed a pathway to winning 49 states in 1972 and 1984, 44 states in 1980, and 40 in 1988. In four elections, 1972, 1984, 1988, and 2004 – the Republican Party swept all 11 of FDR’s Solid South. These were the copious benefits of the Southern Strategy.
Then, conservatives urged Bush 1 to declare a moratorium on legal immigration, and build a security fence in 1992. The erstwhile politically correct Republican Establishment fought to keep the idea out of the platform.
What now? Eighteen states, including four of the seven mega-states—California, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania—have gone Democratic in six straight elections. Two others, Florida and Ohio, have gone Democratic twice in a row. On top of that, white folks are now a minority in the last mega-state, Texas.
In Ohio, which produced seven Republican presidents, more than any other state, Republicans are dropping out, and may be dying out.
Eight years ago, blacks and whites voted at about the same rate in Ohio. In 2008, “the participation rate for whites dropped to 65 percent, while the rate for blacks rose to 70 percent. Last November, the turnout rate among whites fell to 62 percent, while the rate for blacks ticked up to 72 percent.
From these Census figures, white folks are losing interest in politics and voting. Still, whites still constitute three-fourths of the electorate and nine in 10 Republican votes.
The very unconventional gambit to embrace amnesty and a path to citizenship for 12 million illegal aliens, led by Senator Rubio and Company may be a way to recalibrate the dial and increase Republican enthusiasm and turnout among three-fourths of the electorate. Alternatively, is it really just a circuitous route to inciting a demand to seal America’s borders against all intruders?
We are in search of answers to that query and many others. Meanwhile, what we know is, “The White Vote is Disappearing: What Now?”
I’m done; holla back!
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