It’s Economics, Not Demographics, Stupid

Republicans are preoccupied in some uncharacteristic public “soul-searching,” which is what people call members of a defeated party explaining that the party went haywire by not taking the advice they’ve been given all along. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, It’s Economics, Demographics, Stupid.

Most arguments center on the consensus that demography spelled doom for Republicans. The party is worried primarily about three groups: Hispanics, women and young people. So the solutions seem to be :

  • To court Hispanics they think they need to change their policies on immigration.
  • To appeal to women it’s their approach to abortion and contraception.
  • T appeal to young voters it’s same-sex marriage.

While there few that will disagree that the GOP has a worrisome image for each of these groups, Republicans are making a yet another mistake in their strategic thinking about voters in these categories. The root of the party’s electoral challenge isn’t demographics: It’s economics.

Republicans apparently look at the polls that illustrate a particular group voting against them, then make a leap of logic by assuming it’s principally because of some issue idiosyncrasy to that group. The upshot is to oversimplify reality: it obscures the facts that married women tend to vote Republican, as do young evangelical Christians. The fallacy in their assumption? Race, sex and age influence but don’t determine how people will vote.

Blinded By the White

Anyone looking at campaign events for Mitt Romney and President Obama would have seen an obvious difference in more than just the size of the crowds…one was so white the reflection had to be blinding. I’ll let you guess which candidate commanded that turnout.

Republican stances on immigrants probably play a role in how poorly Republicans do with Hispanics, but they haven’t found a way to convince conservative voters that they will respect the rule of law without simultaneously making Hispanics think (correctly) that the party is hostile to them.

But empirical data suggests that even if they could find a solution to the immigration aspect, the growing number of Hispanic voters would continue to mean trouble for Republicans. Why?

Hispanics are disproportionately poor and uninsured. Like people of other races in similar situations, they tend to have views on economic policies that line up with the Democrats. In California, for example, Hispanics were instrumental in helping Democratic Governor Jerry Brown get tax increases approved on Election Day. A Republican Party that was obsessed with repealing Obama’s health-care legislation (33 separate votes in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives) but doesn’t offer any other option to get people health insurance is going to get roundly rejected by these voters.

Public support for same-sex marriage has also increased… a lot. And among young people it’s a no-brainer and not worth such bombastic posturing on which Republicans continue to pontificate. The Republican Party will simply have to diminish its resistance to it or lose a growing number of people who feel it’s none of government’s business with whom people are in love.

But again, there is an economic element to the GOP’s marriage dilemma. Young people are more economically vulnerable than older voters who tend to skew Republican. Logically, that must play a role in the way they vote. Have Republicans up and down the line offered any plan whatsoever to address the concerns of economically stressed out young people? Hardly. Discontinuing Pell Grants, ending government-backed student loans, ending tax deductions for tuition, etc. A fuzzy promise here (to create more jobs); an entitlement restructuring there, does nothing for this group now and has no immediacy in their decision-making.

There can’t be many Republicans who think it’s wise for candidates to let opposition to abortion in cases of rape become a major issue in campaigns. To the contrary, Republicans seem to frequently favor the rights of the rapist more than the women. That stance is unpopular among women and men alike. Elections have generally shown that even Republican politicians who favor legal abortion do worse among women than among men. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, one of those Republicans, did 12 points worse as he was defeated. (Mitt Romney did only 8 points worse.)

As if this stance isn’t bad enough, the poor woman who has been brutally assaulted must keep the child of the rapist and either raise the child herself or burden the state with the care for the child or at the very least add woes to the overburdened child welfare agencies in each state. And the average cost of raising a child in the U.S. is $235,000. That might not seem like much to Mitt Romney Republicans, but to the average, truly average American, that seems like an overwhelming amount of money.

Commonalities

If Republicans addressed the economic problems, other than merely trying to help their wealthy donors become wealthier, they would find their numbers improving among all of those groups. White, working-class voters, who supported Romney for president, had a low turnout as well, so apparently even the Republican’s base wasn’t wild about the Republican’s economic plan of “Obama has done ok, just not good enough.”

Republicans ran a successful businessman and were rejected in a big way. Maybe, just maybe, they and their supporters simply don’t understand that successful macroeconomic(governmental) policies are polar opposites from sound micro-economic policies(business and individuals).

And looking at any polls, even bogus, tilted and unscientific polls, will not improve their chances of success beyond what they experienced November 6th  unless they get to therapy and work out their intercultural issues and stop trying to fleece all Americans who don’t fit nicely into their all-white men’s club. It will only get worse.

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