by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Harry J. Enten of Britain’s left-leaning Guardian newspaper returns to one of his common themes in recent weeks: electoral trends that — in his opinion — tend to favor Republicans in the next round of American elections.
I don’t buy the argument that the shrinking white population in this country necessarily spells doom for the Republicans. This is a two-party system where the economy almost always dictates who wins and loses elections. No one has yet proved that the 2012 election indicates that the Republican party needs to change fundamentally in order to win, despite hundreds of column inches expended on the subject.
For Republicans to win, they’d need economic conditions slightly more favorable to the out-party (that would have been, in 2012, a worse economy and less confidence). Following the 2012 pattern, this would allow them in 2016 to continue to do exponentially better among white working-class voters. Sean Trende, who believes that the GOP could win with a mostly white coalition, anticipates Republicans also gaining a few more points among minorities.
Of course, many doubt this steady-state strategy could work for Republicans. Karl Rove said a few months ago that Republicans would have a hard time regularly winning the white vote by 25pt or more. But that’s the funny thing about electoral rules: they’re made to be broken. For example, the aforementioned Alan Abramowitz said that Republicans would have a very hard time getting above the 58% of the white vote in 2010 that they had in 1994. In fact, they won 62% of the white vote in the last midterms.
That’s why Trende has vigorously argued that the demographic wall facing the GOP doesn’t really exist. The worsening Democratic performance among white voters we have seen recently is part of a longstanding trend. If the pattern continues, then white support for Democrats will continue to drop below its current historic low.
So, now we have a test case of sorts in 2014.