Only a few weeks ago, conservative pundits like David Horowitz and Rush Limbaugh were grandly predicting a landslide win for John McCain in the 2008 presidential race. But with polls showing Barack Obama pulling away, it is now liberals who are gloating about not only a landslide win for Obama, but also perhaps the end of the GOP's 40 year domination of presidential politics.
In his article, GOP, RIP? [Sept. 30, 2008], Slate columnist Timothy Noah claims that Republican mishandling of the economy and the Iraq war (no mention of immigration of course) has discredited the party even to its conservative base, and that this should spell the end of their ascendancy.
Noah and other leftists are right to gloat. But it is not just Bush bumbling that is leading the GOP to ruin. The simple fact is that the Republican base (white people) is getting relatively smaller every four years, while the Democratic base grows relentlessly.
Peter Brimelow and Ed Rubenstein presented the facts about the declining GOP majority in a National Review cover story in June 1997. [Electing a New People]. They crunched the numbers and predicted that 2008 would be the first year in which the demographic wave would catch up with Republicans. After that the prospects for electing Republican presidents would just get worse. They wrote:
"Demography is destiny in American politics. This point was made brilliantly almost exactly thirty years ago, by KevKevin Phillips in The Emerging Republican Majority (1968). In the shadow of the Democrats' long-dominant "Roosevelt coalition," and amid the wreckage and recrimination of the disastrous Goldwater defeat, Phillips boldly predicted a generation of Republican victories based on the persistent but dynamic pattern of ethnic politics. He has been triumphantly vindicated.
"But the Republican hour is rapidly drawing to a close. Not because the "Phillips Coalition" of the West and the South, of the middle class and urban blue-collar voters, is breaking up in the traditional manner. Instead, it is being drowned—as a direct result of the 1965 Immigration Act, which ironically became effective in the year Phillips's book was published. Nine-tenths of the immigrant influx is from groups with significant—sometimes overwhelming—Democratic propensities. After thirty years, their numbers are reaching critical mass. And there is no end in sight."
The past 11 years have proven Brimelow and Rubenstein correct. George W. Bush won tight races in 2000 and 2004 with 55% and 57% of the white vote respectively. This year, the white vote is even more important for McCain. He will likely need 60% of it to win the election.
He's not getting it. Here are some numbers from Ipsos/Mclatchy polls a month apart
"McCain leads 57 percent to 34 percent among non-Hispanic whites, and by 53 percent to 38 percent among voters age 55 and older.
"Obama leads among voters age 18 to 34 by a margin of 55 percent to 34 percent, among non-Hispanic blacks by 90 percent to 3 percent, and among Hispanics by 58 percent to 34 percent." [Poll shows McCain, Obama in dead heat, McClatchy Newspapers Friday, September 12, 2008]
"McCain leads by 48% to 39% among whites; Obama by 91% to 4% among blacks; by 64% to 18% among Hispanics; and by 63% to 37% among other races and ethnicities." [Obama's lead widens to 7 points in poll, By Steven Thomma, McClatchy Newspapers, October 7, 2008]
McCain needs this greater share of whites because demographics have been working their magic since Brimelow and Rubenstein wrote. Thanks to immigration and high immigrant fertility rates, America is getting more Asian and Hispanic. And these groups vote roughly 60% to 40% for Democrats.
One poll found that approximately 80 % of the non-white vote will go to Obama this year. Given the recent Census report that whites will become a minority by 2042 (and possibly even earlier than that) this means the GOP's goose is almost cooked in presidential politics.
Unless Republicans magically find a way to attract more Asians and Hispanics (they seem to have wisely given up on the black vote) they are going to need greater and greater percentages of the drowning white vote. Formerly reliable red states like Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona (though not this year since it is McCain's home state) are now purple, which is just a transition phase from red to blue. Even North Carolina and Georgia—formerly part of the solid South for Republicans—are now within striking distance for Obama.
The problem is that there are groups of whites—gays, feminists, Jewish voters, liberals and others—who don't even consider supporting the Stupid Party. And the Bush Republicans are too arrogant to court blue collar "Reagan Democrats". Therefore, the 64% of the white vote won by Ronald Reagan in 1984 could be the national high point that Republicans can hope to get—with their current strategy. Meanwhile, the demographic revolution will keep on churning. It might be well be made worse by an amnesty.
At some point, even if the GOP can get 64% of the white vote, will it be enough?
There is, of course, one possibility left for the Republicans. Steve Sailer has outlined a strategy where Republicans actually appeal to the interests of their base. This includes such items as opposing affirmative action, reducing immigration, declaring English the official language and fighting for the culture and traditions of the American majority.
Southern Republicans routinely capture over 70% of the white vote in their states. The GOP can do that nationally. But it will have to try.
Better late than never, I suppose. But without patriotic immigration reform, not enough.
Peter Bradley[email him] writes from Washington D.C.