May 19, 2013
The Botox Solution
Posted on Dec 13, 2012
By Jeremiah Goulka, TomDispatch
Still, they kept their majority in the House of Representatives, losing only a handful of seats. (That the GOP lost the majority of total votes cast gets less attention.) The Party also added a 30th governor to its roster, and held onto its control of the majority of top offices and legislative chambers in the states. Come 2014, GOP operatives expect the Party to do quite nicely, as the opposition party often does in midterm elections, especially if turnout demographics look like 2006 and 2010. Another lesson many movement conservatives have learned is that the more they pound away on their issues, the more they shift American politics rightward even when they lose.
All of this suggests to anxious Republicans that they are not crazy for seeing no immediate need to make big changes to appeal to demographic groups outside the Party’s aging white base. But the short term is likely to be short indeed. Think of them, then, as the POD or the Party of Denial.
Meanwhile, on the Bridge of the Titanic
Avoid it as they may, the long-term picture couldn’t look grimmer for the Party. Demographics may well be destiny. Even a cursory look at the numbers exposes the looming threat to the Party’s future prospects.
* White Christians: The bulk of Romney’s supporters (79%) were white Christians (40% of whom were evangelicals), but this is an aging and shrinking group. Three-quarters of senior voters but only a quarter of millennial voters are white Christians, and the generations in between are much less likely to consider themselves “strong” members of their religion than seniors. (Non-white Christians, Jews, observers of other faiths, and the growing number of the religiously-unaffiliated all overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.)
* Hispanics: According to the Washington Post exit polls, Obama received 71% of the Hispanic vote in 2012 (67% in 2008). Already 10% of this year’s voters (9% in 2008), the Hispanic population is exploding, accounting for half of U.S. population growth.
* Asian Americans: The nation’s fastest growing demographic group—now 3% of this year’s voters (2% in 2008)—gave Obama 73% of its vote in 2012 (62% in 2008).
* Unmarried Women: The percentage of unmarried women has been growing slowly since the 1970s, up to 53% of women as of last year. Even among subgroups favoring Obama, there was a marriage gap in which unmarried women (23% of this year’s voters) favored Obama by huge margins. Despite winning 53% of (mostly white) married women, 31% of this year’s voters (down from 33% in 2008), Romney lost women overall by 11 points.
* The Young: The millennial generation (born between 1978 and 2000) has been voting overwhelmingly for Democrats (66% for Obama in 2008, 60% this year). They are projected to be 40% of the eligible voting pool by 2020. Because they are relatively diverse and secular, the GOP cannot assume that enough will emulate previous generations and swing to the right as they age.
Such polling figures should frighten GOP leaders. There’s no reason to believe that what we saw on November 6th was anything but the tip of the iceberg.
The factions in the party that are not socially conservative see these looming threats as an opportunity to get the GOP to drop the social stuff. But movement conservatives aren’t going to cede ideological ground, not when they (correctly) think it’s a necessity if they are to attract their base voters. “This country doesn’t need two liberal or Democratic parties,” is the way Bobby Jindal puts it, typically enough.
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