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The Republican Party is still on life support

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones points out some of the peculiarities of the much-hyped Washington Post-ABC News poll showing that Democrats are headed to an electoral thumping this November. While a clear majority of Americans (53%-40%) say they plan on voting for the Republicans in their House and Senate races, according to the poll, a plurality of us actually believe that Democrats represent our values better and deserve to be reelected at higher rates. The lesson, according to Drum and the Post's Ezra Klein, is that elections are more of a referendum on the party in power (Drum says, "It's the economy, stupid") than a reflection of Americans' moral and political philosophies.

Expanding on that train of thought, there's also a lesson for Republicans concerned about their party's long-term viability. Days after the 2008 election -- less than two years but seemingly another political era ago -- UC Berkeley political scientist Bruce Cain wrote in a point-counterpoint debate for The Times' opinion website that the Democrats' victory exposed "long-term demographic trends and general party tendencies that require much more serious consideration by thoughtful Republicans."

Cain continued:

What are they? First is the continuing geographic and numerical expansion of the Latino population. Stationed in Washington for the University of California system, I see the East Coast going through the kind of rapid growth in the Latino population that Californians experienced in the late 1970s. At various times, the Republicans have made serious inroads into the Latino vote only to fall back by embracing harsh anti-immigrant policies (such as California's Proposition 187 in 1994 and the House immigration bill in 2006). Nativism in the GOP stoked by terrorism fears after 9/11 pushed Latinos back into the welcoming embrace of the Democratic Party in the last two elections. This has to be taken seriously.

Secondly, the Republicans are struggling with holding on to the fast-growing Southern (North Carolina and Virginia) and Southwestern states (New Mexico, Colorado and soon Arizona). As some excellent work from the Brookings Institution reveals, the common element here is the influx of educated white-collar workers. That leaves the geographic base of the Republican Party in slow-growing and rural states. Shrinking into a declining economic and geographic base is a prescription for long-term trouble.

My theory about this -- and it is only a theory -- is that educated people generally prefer fact-based pragmatic governance to faith-based, damn-the-facts governance that rewards loyalty. The party that most successfully delivers along these lines will capture more of their votes. In this sense, the Democratic Party is ironically helped by its ideological incoherence. Its economic credo is really about smoothing the harsh edges around capitalism. There is no vision of a state-owned economy. There is no demand for complete equality, just a little bit more. And there is a huge faith in technology, science and rational inquiry.

The Republicans take great comfort in the fact that the polls still indicate that more people call themselves conservatives than liberals, but the reality is that the modal response is moderate and the labels of liberalism and conservatism are minimally two-dimensional and confusing. The Republicans are in a hole because they did not perform well in office over the last eight years. The pragmatic majority took notice and swung to the Democrats. The Republicans, in my opinion, need to prioritize pragmatism and policy competence ahead of ideological purity and faith-based instincts.

Finally, there is the new generation. Even before this election, the Generation Y kids were participating in public life at higher levels than their Generation X predecessors. What strikes me as I read their resumes and talk to them at the university is that they are more service-oriented (partly because community service is a requirement at many schools), technologically oriented (they have been running computers and electronics for their parents for years) and world-savvy (they intern as a way of testing out the world). Generation X was the "me" generation; Y seems to be the "us" cohort. Republicans may want to think about what that means for them.

You can shrug off Cain's analysis as one of numerous premature GOP obituaries written in the Obama afterglow. But Cain's demographic snapshot two years ago seems to be borne out by the Washington Post-ABC News poll: Even in a terrible year for Democrats, voters are by no means embracing GOP principles, suggesting the kind of demographic crawl Cain noted in 2008. Republicans may win big this November; what they do after the election, however, will have much more of an impact on the party's long-term prospects.

-- Paul Thornton 

 

Comments () | Archives (13)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Mitchell Young

Pete Wilson, it has to be repeated over and over and over again, won. Handily. No other state-wide Republican candidate since has come close to running on immigration -- if they had, some of them probably would have won, just as Jan Brewer will win in Arizona.

Republicans' problem on the immigration issue is partially one of softening rhetoric while firming up on policy -- there are plenty of ways of making the restrictionist case without getting shrill. But mostly the problem is internal division. The libertarian, no-borders wing of the party is still fairly strong -- e.g. Grover Norquist -- and still preventing the party from speaking with unity on the immigration issue.


BTW Cain is makes an error -- the Baby Boomers were (still are) the 'Me' generation.

Ramon

As a native Angeleno I have seen the City of Los Angeles become a Mexican suburb equal to Tijuana in many areas. I guess if you can call that success Democrats have done a great job in Los Angeles. Just look at Macarthur park, East Los Angeles, South Central, West Side Pico district, Pacoima, and all the fine Democratic run cities I just mentioned. On the other hand, look at the Republican Strong Hold Orange COunty. they kick Los Angeles all over the real estate market by having better neighborhoods. So dont belive the hype with what Democrats have done...The proof is in the pudding. Republicans have done a far better job of balancing State Budgets, and I dare anyone to compare Blue States with Red States.

pasquino

I think the Journolist, Ezra Klein, is right about one thing. This year is a referendum on Democrat Socialism.

But other than that, that Socialist has never been right about anything else.

Ultima Rodriguez

It is true the Dems have a much easier road of it. After all, their entire philosophy is based on the handout, tax and spend, and flog the most productive members of our society for earning too much money. Everyone wants a handout except those who end up having to pay for them.

I am surprised that the GOP has not been able to convey a more coherent message to Hispanics. I believe that message is: (1) unless you like the lawlessness of Mexico, the laws must be enforced, all of them; that may mean that all of those who are here illegally may not be able to stay but we can figure a humane way to decide who should be allowed to stay and those who should not. Generally, if an illegal alien is holding a job a citizen would take if offered a living wage, the alien will have to leave for find a job citizens don't want; (2) it is in the enlightened best interests of all citizens, including Hispanics, to want to limit population growth because the more there are of us, the less there is for each of us of finite natural resources like water, arable land, and minerals; (3)if you have any concerns about climate change keep in mind that pollutants are produced by people; Americans produce 20 metric tons per capita of pollutants annually. At that rate we will produce 6 billion more tons by the end of this century as our population doubles. Even, if by some technological miracle, we are able to reduce the output by half to that of Mexico, we will have made no progress in reducing the present unacceptable level, as our population burgeons from 300 million to 600 million. Have Hispanics thought about that when they oppose Republicans who are trying to control our borders? This can only be done if there is the threat and the actuality of the repatriation of significant numbers of illegal aliens.

Ultima Rodriguez

Cain refers to the "...harsh anti-immigrant policies such as California's Proposition 187 in 1994 and the House immigration bill in 2006..." But many don't see those policies as harsh. They should be considered harsh only by those who believe laws should not be enforced, that Mexico Norte will be better than the America we know and love, by the illegal aliens themselves; and the shortsighted Democrat politicians that think they will continue to have appeal when the Hispanics have their own preferred candidates. When will folks awaken to the fact that what is happening in America is not a just social justice but a re-creation of the very conditions that caused illegal aliens to flee their homelands: poverty, joblessness, crime, corruption, oligarchy, disease, and starvation.

RoBoWayne

This is the most delusional piece of crap I have read in a long time.
Even worse than Carville's idea of "30 Years of Progressive rule" in 2009.
Hmmm... what ever happened to THAT? LOL.
GOP about to take the House.
Poll after polls show the GOP ahead of their Dem rivals.
Poll after poll show GENERIC Pugs ahead of Dems, even a 12% plus of a GENERIC Republican over Obama.
GOP may even take the Senate, at the very least 8 seats to make 48 from 41.
And THIS idiotic article pops up?
Stay in denial Paul Thornton, it becomes you, oh, and say hi to the Mad Hatter while you are in Wonderland, he'll appreciate it.

Jonzee

Hopefully they'l stay there.

Jaimen

Check out democraticpoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com

claudia miller

Interesting. I appreciate the referendum aspect of voting, however, our country is in crisis and we need a legislature that is willing to get "things" done. It is not in our best interest to vote for the GOP when they have been unwilling to participate in the recovery for our country. I would recommend that we wait for another time to show our displeasure of the governing party until we are out of the woods. claudiatucsonaz

A CAPITALISM SUPPORTER

My theory about this -- and it is only a theory -- is that educated people generally prefer fact-based pragmatic governance to faith-based, damn-the-facts governance that rewards loyalty. The party that most successfully delivers along these lines will capture more of their votes. - EXACTLY WHY THE REPUBLICANS' WILL WIN.

A CAPITALISM SUPPORTER

In the minds of the left/far left TEA people are conservatives/right lunatics: --- based on the propaganda spewed out by the left lunatics; - and as usual the far left states the opposite of the truth --- TaxedEnoughAlready people are NOT a party, they support American values, visiting any reliable TEA website, states TEA people support CAPITALISTIC, PRIVATE industry, rather than big government/socialism/Marxism/Totalitarianism. Many people see their lives, and the lives of future generations getting devastated --- the “stimulus-es”, corruptly mandated health”care” TAX, and numerous other big government takeovers, and schemes make people ask questions, and TEA organizations help with the answers.
--- In Give Us Liberty, the former House Majority Leader and FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe define what the Tea Party is fighting for and how all Americans can join the cause.
TEA people are simply TaxedEnoughAlready - They are not against taxes, but are against big gov., and excessive taxes - with gov. bureaucrats benefiting rather than the people. TEA people want taxation WITH representation rather than taxation WITHOUT representation - the reps that understand this will get re-elected, it doesn't matter if reps are democrat or republican, it matters if they are honest and support individual freedom, as the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence supported, and showed by risking everything. --- To know what the TaxedEnoughAlready people represent try going to freedomworks-org --- or, listen to people that back their opinions on rhetoric. --- “FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey describes the historical roots, ideas, and tactics that animate the most important grassroots movement in America today.
PLEASE call your reps., and be critical --- we are not experiencing politics as usual --- the debate is not Democrat vs. Republican --- the debate is CAPITALISM/private enterprise vs. socialism/totalitarian government control.
--newsmax-com Debt Commission Leaders Paint Gloomy Picture 11 Jul 2010
-For insight into Obama's views on the courts and the Constitution, see the AT piece, "Obama the Justifier", by Selwyn Duke, 10/3/08.
-examiner-com June 3 2010 President Obama and the DOW: Both the Destruction of Wealth; both truly unbelievable’
-townhallmob-com 8 12 2009 was democrats' health care strategy written in federal prison?
-townhallmob-com 12 2009 A White House Power Grab that Congress and America Doesn’t See
-chaffetz.house-gov 12 10 2009 The Omnibus Bill: Bad Government at its Worst
-http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/Moody’s Says U.S. Debt Could Test Triple-A Rating
-tiahrt.house-gov national debt clock
-chaffetz-house-gov The Omnibus Bill: Bad Government at its Worst Dec 10 2009
-townhallmob-com 12 2009 A White House Power Grab that Congress and America Doesn’t See
-rightvoices-com/2008/10/16/On Obama: Big Lies And What Must Be The Largest Rug To Sweep Them Under Oct/16/08

A CAPITALISM SUPPORTER

In November people will have a decision to make --- do they want THE USUAL big government takeover tactics, or do they want to GO BACK to a semi-private/CAPITALISTIC society.
Please encourage people to know who, and what their reps. are doing --- WE, the people must remake America, or someone else will --- and we have seem how the far left is remaking America.
-*electionlawblog.org/archives/2010_07.html – a good resource for research, and help with reform
-- PLEASE get e-mails from your reps, and VOTE THE CORRUPT OUT
--newsmax-com Democrats Rushing 'Disclose' to Control November Elections Monday, 12 Jul 2010
http://electionlawblog.org/archives/2010_07.html
-*At Thomas.gov website click on House of Representatives/Congress to get e-mail, phone, address of reps for area code entered.
-smartvoter-org/ Our goal is to provide the best nonpartisan information about all contests on your ballot to help you make an informed decision.
-lwvohio.org/ The League of Women Voters of Ohio, founded in 1920, is a non-partisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
About The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law-ohioconstitution-org
-resitsnet-com
-friendsoftheuschamber-com The greatest challenge we now face as a nation is reviving our economy, restoring the 7 million jobs lost to the current recession, and creating the 13 million new jobs our growing nation will need over the next decade. Only a vibrant American free enterprise system can accomplish this goal.
-Center for Individual Freedom not-for-profit constitutional advocacy organization with the mission to protect and defend individual freedoms and individual rights.   “In fact, the rationale behind the push for "Net Neutrality" is summed up by Marxist media theorist (and we don’t use that description loosely) Robert McChesney, perhaps "Net Neutrality’s" most ardent supporter.”
-heritage-org Democracy in Danger: Case Studies of Election Fraud Oct 28, 2008 ... The right to vote in a free and fair election is the most basic civil right, on which depends all of the other rights of the American people ...Elections decide not only who leads our country, but as a consequence of that vote, the future public policies that will be implemented by our government. The right to vote in a free and fair election is the most basic civil right, on which depends all of the other rights of the American people protected by the Bill of Rights. These case studies hold lessons that can help us preserve our democracy for another two hundred years. Read the case studies (PDF)
-Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is a private, non-partisan, non-profit organization representing more than one million members and supporters nationwide. CAGW's mission is to eliminate waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in the federal government
-Center for Individual Freedom not-for-profit constitutional advocacy organization with the mission to protect and defend individual freedoms and individual rights.
-heritage-org Democracy in Danger: What States Can Do to Safeguard America's Election System August 11, 2009
Friendsofthechamber-com ---- find a town hall in your area; take our election survey, and voter resources.
--newsmax-com Debt Commission Leaders Paint Gloomy Picture 11 Jul 2010
-*Congressman Paul Ryan – Creating Jobs and Generating Economic Growth – “Roadmap for America’s Future”
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/07/09/1551370/in-disclose-act-democrats-are.html
-chaffetz-house-gov The Omnibus Bill: Bad Government at its Worst Dec 10 2009
-*heritage-org Why Government Spending Does Not Stimulate Economic Growth: Answering the Critics, and how taxes affect economic growth January 5, 2010
-Heritage-org Value-Added Tax: No Easy Fix for the Deficit January 21, 2010
-survey-pollilngpont-com --- READ ABOUT POLITICAL ISSES AND TAKE SURVEYS
-rightvoices-com/2008/10/16/On Obama: Big Lies And What Must Be The Largest Rug To Sweep Them Under Oct/16/08
-politico.com Dems seek cover to boost debt limit
-Money-cnn.com-2009/09/16-U.S. about to hit debt ceiling – again
-articles.sfgate.com/2010-03-04/Renewable-power stimulus funds spent overseas
-propublic-.org/one-third-of-stimulus-money-spent-february-2010-update Eye on the Stimulus
-From Bob Latta's website 10 More Things Every American Should Know About President Obama’s Job-Killing Budget Posted by Staff on February 03, 2010
-examiner-com June 3 2010 President Obama and the DOW: Both the Destruction of Wealth; both truly unbelievable’
-townhallmob-com 8 12 2009 was democrats' health care strategy written in federal prison?
-townhallmob-com 12 2009 A White House Power Grab that Congress and America Doesn’t See
-chaffetz.house-gov 12 10 2009 The Omnibus Bill: Bad Government at its Worst

A CAPITALISM SUPPORTER

LATEST THREATS TO AMERICAN VALUES, HONOR, AND RESPECT -
- cnsnews.com Obama Administration Submits Arizona Immigration Law to U.N. Review, Reviving Questions About U.S. Engagement With Human Rights Council Tuesday, August 31, 2010
- wnd.com - LIFE WITH BIG BROTHER Chris Dodd's last act: 'Control the people'
WASHINGTON – Alarms are being raised over what probably is retiring Sen. Christopher Dodd's last major piece of legislation – the Livable Communities Act, which has been approved by the Senate Banking Committee and now is heading to the Senate floor – for its likely U.N. inspiration and goal of controlling people.
THE PLAN WOULD CREATE A NEW FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY, THE OFFICE OF SUSTAINABLE HOUSING AND COMMUNITIES, ARMED WITH SOME $4 BILLION IN FEDERAL GRANTS, TO PRESSURE LOCAL COMMUNITIES INTO A MORE "GREEN" DEVELOPMENT AGENDA.
- aapsonline.org/newsoftheday/001267 – Self-Serving AMA Sacrifices Patients to Business Interests Sept 6 2010
-thehill.com/blogs/Tea Party docs: 'Self-serving' AMA betraying physicians, patients - 09/07/10
-impeachobamacampaign.com 50 Impeachable Crimes and Counting September 13, 2010
- crimes against liberty by David Limbaugh – explains how Obama gets what he wants - c.2010 by Regency Publishing, Inc.
- amazon.com The Roots of Obama's Rage [Hardcover]Dinesh D'Souza (Author) This title will be released on October 4, 2010. From the Inside Flap - “... you’ll learn: Why Obama’s economic policies are actually designed to make America poorer compared to the rest of the world Why Obama will welcome a nuclear Iran Why Obama sees America as a rogue nation—worse than North Korea The real reason Obama banished a bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and ordered NASA to praise the scientific contributions of Muslims Why Obama would like to make America’s superpower status a thing of the past.”
**Donald Berwick Obama administration nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid
-redstate-comn Obama nominee Donald Berwick's radical agenda May 12 2010
--nypost-com O's radical pick for Medicare June 16, 2010
-foxnews-com Obama fills Medicare and Medicaid post without senate approval July 07 2010
-aapsonline.org (Association of American Physicians and Surgeons) How Dr. Berwick Will Control Your Doctor & You July 18th, 2010
Craig Becker Obama administration nominee to the National Labor Relations Board
--nrtwc-org (the national right to work committee) The NLRB Becker Fight “Shakes and Bakes” Again
-shopfloor.org Senate Confirms NLRB Nominees Pearce and Hayes, not Becker June 22, 2010
-washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/Controversial National Labor Relations Board nominee Craig Becker shot down in Senate 02/09/10
-Senator Orrin Hatch Utah concerned by NLRB Nominee Craig Becker
-nationalaborblog-com 2010 02 Controversy Over Nlrb Nominee Craig Becker Heats Up
- charlotteobserver.com/2010/07/09/1551370/in-disclose-act-democrats-are.html


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