Race Pandering a Dead End for GOP

At National Review, Larry Kudlow has an article arguing that the "GOP Will Lose in 2016 without Sensible Immigration Reform."  This narrative has been trotted out repeatedly over the years by the more centrist members of the Republican Party – but it is wrong.

In fact, conservative parties such as the GOP are either losing elections or making them tighter races than they would otherwise be, because of their propensity to engage in race-based pandering.

The population of the United States is still 78 percent "White alone," according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Hispanics and Latinos constitute only 17 percent of the population, with Asians at just 5 percent and blacks and African-Americans at 13 percent.  The "White alone, not Hispanic or Latino" category is at 63 percent.

Since 2004, the voting rate in presidential elections for non-Hispanic whites has declined substantially, while that of blacks, Asians, and Hispanics has increased.  Whites are dropping out of the POTUS voting game.  Why?  Perhaps because Democrats and Republicans alike devote much of their time and energy to attracting the non-white vote.  This is the same non-white vote that spends much of its time and energy bashing whites.  Ergo, whites have only political parties that are – at their core – working against them.  Why bother voting for your opponents?

As the GOP establishment works hard to attract new visible minority voters, it is progressively alienating – or at least failing to build – the most important voting constituency in the U.S.: whites.  This is the point Kudlow fails to address when he writes the following:

When Obama beat Romney in 2012, with the former Massachusetts governor attracting only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote with his self-deportation argument, Republicans across the map decided they must develop an immigration-reform policy with an outreach approach to minority groups. According to the Republican National Committee [RNC], the days of harsh language and punitive legislation must end. In its place, the GOP must reconstruct the Ronald Reagan/Jack Kemp 'big tent' theory of politics, where there is plenty of room for all groups – blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Millennials, women, and gays. As Reagan put it, if you and I agree 80 percent of the time and disagree 20 percent, we are not enemies.

The purposeful avoidance of "harsh language" (read: reality and honesty) and "punitive legislation" (read: adherence to the rule of law) sounds like a liberal argument – and as the voters in Alberta, Canada just showed when they elected a socialist provincial government a few days ago, if you give the populace mush-in-the-center-right (aka effectively liberal policies without the liberal entitlement goodies), they will vote for the leftist parties and at least get some liberal goodies to go along with the liberal policies.  Why would anyone vote to diminish his standard of living?  And yet, that is exactly what the RNC is asking voters to do.  It will fail.

The gay vote?  Only 1.6 percent of the U.S. adult population is gay or lesbian.  This demographic is effectively irrelevant in a general election.  It makes far more electoral sense to target your voter recruitment efforts at the 98.4 percent of American adults who are not gay or lesbian.

The black vote in a "Ronald Reagan/Jack Kemp 'big tent' theory of politics"?  During Reagan's 1984 re-election, he received just 9 percent of the black vote – not at all different from the general trend since.  When Kemp ran with Bob Dole in 1996, they received just 12 percent of the black vote and 21 percent of the Hispanic vote.  But this didn't hurt their chances.  What killed the Dole/Kemp election bid was that they only got 46 percent of the White vote – the racial bloc that was 83 percent of all voters that year.

The Asian vote share in the 2012 presidential election was 24-fold smaller than the white vote.  Clearly not a place to focus your primary energies if you want to play race-based politics.

In the 2012 presidential election, just 10 percent of voters were Hispanic and 3 percent were Asian – 72 percent were white.  Why would you want to sacrifice the massive white constituency for the small Hispanic vote?  That is electoral suicide.

The following chart shows the percentage of each racial group voting for the Republican presidential candidate in each election since 1976 (data for Asians is only available after 1992).

It is clear that the GOP has far from a monopoly on the white vote.  Other than the Reagan re-election landslide in 1984, no more than 60 percent of the white vote has gone to the GOP – the average is less than 55 percent over these 10 elections.

In other words, the Republican establishment is concerned about increasing the share of the tiny Hispanic vote which it has never done particularly well with, and yet apparently unconcerned about not losing – or failing to build – the white vote which barely votes for it in a majority.

George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 because he carried just 55 percent of the white vote, the racial group that made up 81 percent of all those who voted in that election.  He received 35 percent of the Hispanic vote and 41 percent of the Asian vote, but they were only 7 percent and 2 percent, respectively, of all voters.  The expression "cutting off the nose to spite the face" comes to mind.

In the 1992 and 1996 elections, Clinton received essentially the same percentage of the white vote as did his Republican challengers.  Carter and Ford were also effectively tied for the white vote during the 1976 election.  Obama got 43 percent of the white vote against McCain and almost 40 percent against Romney.  In both elections, almost three quarters of the total vote was by whites.

Want to win presidential elections if you are a Republican?  Look toward building the white vote.  The best way to do this is not to have policies that discriminate against whites via promoting rule-of-law violations by minorities.