Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The White Voter

Sean Trende had a series of excellent articles that successfully poked holes in the conventional wisdom that Democratic success has been due to the minority vote and that if Republicans want to win in the future they'll have to pick up more minority votes.

Nate Cohn of The New Republic acknowledges the quality of Trende's analysis, but seeks to dispel the idea that Republicans can gain anything by doing better with White voters.

Cohn, inexplicably, compares 2000 to 2012. His chart shows that while Republicans have made gains with Whites in the South and Appalachia they haven't made gains at all elsewhere. Since Republicans are already winning those states, Democrats aren't losing White voters where it counts, the swing states.

The GOP did continue to make gains in Appalachia from 2008 to 2012, but the Southern gains were between 2000 and 2008. The exit poll in Alabama shows Obama went from 10% of the White vote in 2008 to 15% in 2012. Romney gained slightly among Whites in Virginia and Mississippi, but far below his national gains. There weren't exit polls in Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, or Texas, but Obama actually did better than 2008 in Louisiana and Mississippi and his drop in South Carolina and Alabama was smaller than his national drop.

The chart shows Obama gaining outside the South and Appalachia, but if he compared 2008 to 2012, as I did, he'd see that Obama lost a huge number of White voters in places like New Jersey and California. Obama won California Whites 52%-46% in 2008, but lost them 53%-45% in 2012. No, he's not in danger of losing California, but losing California Whites tells us that he's losing Whites all over the country. Romney gained big with Whites in Missouri, but failed to do so in Iowa. Is there a reason Iowa Whites are different than Whites just over the border? If not, the GOP may be able to make gains there once the Obama Iowa machine is gone.

Cohn's conclusion that if Republicans want to gain more White votes they need to be more moderate is pulled completely from nowhere. Most people think Republicans become more conservative between 2008 and 2012? Going more conservative appears to not have hurt the GOP this time and it may have helped. So why go more moderate in the future.I'm not suggesting that going more conservative is the answer for the future, as I'm only looking at elections and not recommending policy.

Romney, of course, beat McCain by less than 2 points. Congressional Republicans beat 2008 Republicans by 5 points. So if these are Romney's gains, congressional Republicans must've had bigger gains. And they are the ones who people think are too conservative.

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