By Washington Watcher
Before I knew the election results, the demographic breakdowns, or read any of the spin from the Mainstream Media, I had a pretty good idea of how I would write up the election if Romney lost.
I would just Google “Hispanic vote” and find a bunch of MSM articles quoting Republican strategists and politicians about how poorly Romney had done among Hispanics. I knew they would bring up the phony 44% Bush supposedly won in 2004 and how Romney alienated Hispanics with his talk (back in the primaries) about “self-deportation.”
I would then note that Romney had in fact done very little to promote patriotic immigration reform in the general election, much bring up racially-tinged issues such as Affirmative Action which could have won him blue collar voters in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—much more important than the alleged Hispanic swing vote.
And of course, the MSM did not disappoint. Article after article made trite talk about the Hispanic vote, filled with quotes from GOP hacks urging that the party find some magical way to appeal to this demographic. A few examples:
Some analysts and Republican strategists argued that the party could not win while alienating the growing Hispanic vote with its tough stance on immigration…“But there is also a hole in the Republican electorate,” [Fred Barnes] continued. “There aren’t enough Hispanics. As long as two-thirds of the growing Hispanic voting bloc lines up with Democrats, it will be increasingly difficult (though hardly impossible) for Republicans to win national elections. When George W. Bush won a narrow re-election in 2004, he got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. If Romney had managed that, he would have come closer to winning. He might even have won.”
[G.O.P. Factions Grapple Over Meaning of Loss, by Michael Cooper, New York Times, November 7, 2012]
[P]arty leaders should [rethink] how to appeal to Hispanics and other demographic groups who supported Obama’s re-election, [Newt] Gingrich said. “Unless we do that we’re going to be a minority party”
[Republicans Stung by Loss Begin Debate Over Future, Mike Dorning and John McCormick, Bloomberg, November, 7 2012]
But make no mistake: What happened last night was a demographic time bomb that had been ticking and that blew up in GOP faces…So the Republicans are maximizing their share with white voters; they just aren't getting the rest....the most significant event of this presidential contest might very well have been the 2010 census.
[First Thoughts: Obama's demographic edge, Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Brooke Brower, NBC News, November 7, 2012]
And, of course, much of this conventional wisdom does not hold up to scrutiny. Most of the swing states Romney lost had very small Hispanic fractions: 3% in Ohio, 5% in Virginia, 4% in Wisconsin, 6% in Pennsylvania, 3% in Michigan, and 2% in Iowa. The idea that there is large enough constituency of pro-amnesty, but otherwise conservative Latinos to swing the election in these states is absurd. In the swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, even if the entire Hispanic population had voted for Romney, he still would have lost.
Thus far, I have not seen any exit polls that show results by race and income. So, because minorities tend to be disproportionately lower income, it's hard to look at votes by income as a proxy for the white working class—except in highly white states.
It's a pretty good bet that Romney's weakness among white working class voters cost him these states, as well as Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
This is in part due to the fact that these voters simply do not support economic libertarianism, the fact that Romney is a rich guy who made his money in private equity, and also because Romney failed to use National Question issues like immigration, Official English and Affirmative Action to appeal to their patriotism and sense of identity.
And even in states with large Hispanic populations, there is good evidence that patriotic immigration reform did not doom Romney. In Nevada, where Hispanics made up 19% of the electorate, Romney also did terribly among white voters, winning them by only 13% in contrast to his 20% nationwide average. And it is also worth noting that Senator Dean Heller (A+ Numbers USA grade) won reelection in Nevada, carrying the white vote by 19%—and also outperforming Romney among Hispanics.
That being said a few things did not go as I expected.
The Hispanic vote at 10% is much larger than it was in the past. And, accordingly, the white vote was a bit smaller than I expected at 72%. (This was also due to higher black turnout at 13%). That still means the Hispanic vote is less than 14% of the white vote—or to put it another way, increasing the white vote share by one perfect is more important than increasing the Hispanic share by 7%.
Moreover, although the Hispanic vote usually trends with the white vote, in this election it did not. Romney increased the GOP victory margin with whites by 8 points—from 12% in 2008 to 20% in 2012. But Obama increased his margin among Hispanics by just as much—up to 36% in 2008 to 44% in 2012. (Also of note: Asians voted even more for the Democrats than Hispanics, with Obama winning among the group 73% to 26 %.)[VDARE.com note: All figures are from CNN’s Presidential Race - 2012 Election Center page. We’ve linked to individual state results, but to see the demographic breakdown, yo’ll have to click on the Exit Poll tab, and find “Vote by Race”.]
In Florida, the Latino size of the electorate increased from 14% to 17%, and Obama's margin of victory among Hispanics also increased from 15% to 21%. This more than covers Obama's narrow victory of less than 50,000 votes.
Note that Romney's alleged hardline on immigration was not the reason he did so poorly among Hispanics. As the Washington Post correctly noted the day before the election, Obama's popularity among Hispanics is largely rooted in his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and the passage of the Affordable Care Act. [Why Romney is losing Latinos by a historic margin, By Jamelle Bouie, November 5, 2012]But for some reason I have yet to hear any GOP hacks say that the party needs to abandon opposition to Obamacare or judicial activism to appeal to Hispanics.
Nonetheless, it is clear that the Hispanic population is becoming more rooted to the Democratic Party, and probably more supportive of amnesty and mass immigration than they were in the past. This is most likely because of the increasing share of Hispanics who have illegal friends and family members, the fact that second and third generation Hispanics are assimilating downward, and the fact that chain migration and the illegals who get adjustment of status are making the group even less educated and lower income.
Note well: I am not making any sort of dire prediction that, because of demographics, this was the last time the GOP could win a national election.
However, it is going to become more and more difficult in each election cycle. Hopefully, we will begin to elect politicians who understand this reality.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway