Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Voting Rights Act and Future Political Coalitions

Josh Marshall's looks at the return of voter ID laws as an attempt to suppress the non-white vote, but I think that's slightly overstating the case. Rather than doubling down on being the white party, the lesson the Republican party seems learned is that they should become the non-black party.

The long answer goes something like this: The GOP now considers the black vote to be completely and irreparably lost. For Republicans to get their support among African-Americans back to Gerald Ford-era levels of 17% would take a herculean act of political & policy concessions. What's more, black voters are concentrated in states that are either safely Republican (the Deep South) or safely Democratic (New York, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey). Over the next decade or two, the benefit of increased black support would be limited to Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Now, those are four of the five most important swing states (Colorado is the fifth), but those are also the states where Republicans were the most aggressive and successful in pursuing voter ID and other suppression tactics. The well has already been poisoned in the places where it matters the most. Last but not least, the current Republican Governors of three of these four states are extremely unpopular. I think cockroaches are more popular than Rick Scott in Florida.

Contrast this situation the state of play among Latino voters. The Hispanic electorate does not have the same long-term ill will towards Republicans. As recently as 2004, Republicans earned 40-45% of the vote among Hispanic voters Hispanic population growth is concentrated in states that are growing, while Ohio and Pennsylvania are flatlining or declining in population. Better support among Latinos also does more to shake up the electoral map. Florida and Virginia might move into the lean-red column, while Colorado and Nevada would move to within Republican reach. Republicans also currently have extremely popular Hispanic Republican governors in the state houses of both Nevada and New Mexico. There's a much deeper political infrastructure to recruit and campaign for conservative Hispanic candidates. All in all, there's far, far, more opportunity for Republicans here than among black voters.

Historically, as immigrant groups assimilate into American culture, they become white in the eyes of mainstream America. At various times, Irish, "Slavs", Italians, Spaniards, and other non-Anglo Saxon people we now think of as white have been considered to be something other than white. Over time, if Latino identity drifts towards the mainstream white identity, their force as a left-leaning political bloc may dissipiate.

4 comments:

rigoletta said...

1. You could think that if it weren't for the racist rhetoric aimed at Latinos from the GOP and the fact that like blacks they are going to be targeted by voter suppression laws too.

Look at Arizona. How many black people live there? Who exactly do you think is going to be hurt by the voter ID laws that are going to be passed? It's not blacks.

There are plenty of states out west where the GOP has been hurting their chances with Latinos for decades.

As for Latino Republicans so what? If they are advocating the same noxious policies that will make them even more hated because they'll be seen as hurting their own people.

In addition to that you have the GOPs views on healthcare and other policies which Latinos don't support.

Long term there is absolutely nothing that says that Latinos don't develop the same antipathy towards the GOP that blacks have. Especially when the GOP is doubling down on being the party of whites.

2. And as far as "assimilating" goes are you talking who are you talking about? A Dominican new to the country? Someone who is Puerto Rican? Someone who is a Chicano whose family has been here for centuries?

Being white DOES NOT mean have some ability to pass judgement on what culture or history makes an American.

Alot of black and brown people in this country have been here longer that most whites. Get over yourself.

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think you almost completely misread my post.

It's not that the GOP image is good among Latino voters. It's that it's less bad than it is among African-American voters. Which is an incredibly low bar. And there are real differences in the willingness to make concessions on economic policy based on race. The Southwestern GOP governors and Florida all took the Obamacare Medicaid money. The Southern GOP governors didn't.

I don't think any of this "Real Americans" vs "lesser Americans"-based polarization is a good thing, but it's the way the Republican party has won elections since, I don't know, Richard Nixon? Why wouldn't they respond to impending demographic doom by slightly broadening the scope of what counts as a "Real American"?

janinsanfran said...

The California experience says that, minimally, the answer to the question whether Republicans will "respond to impending demographic doom by slightly broadening the scope of what counts as a "Real American"? -- is NO. For the time being, they can't make themselves do it.

CA is 15 years ahead of the rest of the country on this, trying to dig out from under the mess left by scared white Republicans as they flushed themselves down the drain. No fun, but a different stage.

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

Right. So the question then is have Republicans learned anything since 1994.

There's a good chance they haven't. But, there's also a good chance they have.

One of the things we really don't know is what sorts of events would cause latino support to shift further to the left or bounce back towards the center.