Can the GOP win in 2012
with only white votes?
By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / March 5, 2011
This country was generally controlled by the Republican Party in the years between 1980 and 2008. Republicans controlled the White House for 20 of those 28 years — Reagan (eight years), Bush I (four years), Bush II (eight years). Even during the eight years of Democrat Bill Clinton the Republicans controlled the Congress and were able to make sure that Republican economic policies remained intact.
These were good years for the rich and for corporations. Taxes on both were continually being reduced, unions lost much of their protection and power, and both businesses and the stock market saw much regulation disappear. The theory of the Republicans was called trickle-down economics, and it said that allowing the corporate interests to make ever larger profits would result in much of those new profits being reinvested, creating new jobs and a rising income and wealth for all Americans.
It didn’t work. Instead of reinvestment, most of the money just went into ever-growing corporate bank accounts and enormous management bonuses. The rich got much richer while almost nothing “trickled down” to the rest of America. This set up the largest disparity of wealth and income between the rich and the rest of America that had been seen since before the Great Depression, and like in 1929, the economy crashed in 2007 with many millions of jobs being lost.
This resulted in a Democratic victory in 2008, and that scared the heck out of corporate interests. They were afraid they might see a new era of regulation to rein in their unbridled greed, and (horror of horrors) might actually have to start paying their fair share of taxes. They had enough Republicans left in the Senate to block any real change, but they knew they had to do something to return their Republican buddies to power.
These right-wing corporate moguls (such as the Koch brothers) decided they needed to create a “movement.” Using right-wing organizations they had created they funded and organized the teabagger movement. They tried to pass this off as a grassroots movement of dissatisfied ordinary Americans, but it didn’t take long for the corporate funding and organizational ties to become known.
I really think these corporate founders meant for the new “movement” to be an anti-regulation and anti-tax movement. But once it got started and needed members, some people were accepted into the teabagger movement who had a different agenda. These were the racists (who were unhappy with an African-American being president) and their brothers in the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim crowd. And there were enough people in these groups to make up a large part of the teabaggers and forever color their purpose and agenda.
The teabaggers joined with the neocons and religious fundamentalists and quickly took over the Republican Party. The Republicans already had an image problem, being composed almost entirely of whites, and this just became worse when these radical groups seized control and began to drum moderates out of the party. The result is a party that is not just made up of whites, but that is viewed as having anti-minority policies (by most minorities and many whites).
The Republicans were able to overcome this in the 2010 elections because of massive corporate spending in the election and a reduced turnout. But the turnout is unlikely to be that small in the presidential election year of 2012. Since the Republicans are not likely to receive any significant minority vote in 2012, the real question now is can they win with just a large white vote? And how large will that white vote have to be for them to be successful?
The National Journal has tried to answer that question, and I believe they have done a pretty good job of showing just how big a percentage of whites in each state President Obama needs to win election. They have done a state-by-state breakdown on this because, due to the Electoral College, state results and not the popular vote is the deciding factor.
As the map above shows, the Republicans won 22 states and the Democrats won 28 states. In 19 of those states Obama won at least 50% of the white vote. In the other nine he won less than 50% of the white vote, but when added to the minority vote it made up a majority of those state’s voters.
Using a variety of sources (2000 and 2010 census, 2008 American Community Survey, exit polling from the 2008 election), the National Journal has come up with figures for each state. In the list below the figure in parentheses shows the percentage of whites Obama got in 2008. The next figure is the percentage of whites he will need to carry the state in 2012 (marked in red), and the last figure is the amount of the white vote he will need to carry the state if he loses at least 10% of the minority vote he had in 2008 (an unlikely scenario considering the racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim feelings now associated with the Republican Party). The * marks the states Obama carried in 2008. Here are the state-by-state figures:
- Hawaii* (70%) 15.8% – 26.7%
- Vermont* (68%) 49.6% – 50.0%
- Rhode Island* (58%) 41.2% – 43.3%
- Maine* (58%) 50.1% – 50.3%
- Washington* (57%) 47.8% – 49.3%
- Oregon* (57%) 49.5% – 50.2%
- Massachusetts* (57%) 40.4% – 43.0%
- Wisconsin* (54%) 46.6% – 47.7%
- New Hampshire* (54%) 49.7% – 50.1%
- Minnesota* (53%) 48.2% – 49.1%
- Delaware* (53%) 35.6% – 38.8%
- New York* (52%) 32.6% – 36.6%
- New Jersey* (52%) 41.4% – 44.3%
- California* (52%) 33.3% – 38.2%
- Michigan* (51%) 41.8% – 43.8%
- Iowa* (51%) 46.0% – 47.0%
- Illinois* (51%) 34.0% – 37.6%
- Connecticut* (51%) 35.3% – 38.4%
- Colorado* (50%) 45.3% – 47.1%
- Pennsylvania* (48%) 41.2% – 43.5%
- Maryland* (47%) 25.2% – 30.9%
- Ohio* (46%) 43.8% – 45.6%
- Nevada* (45%) 35.3% – 39.5%
- Montana (45%) 48.2% – 49.0%
- Indiana* (45%) 44.6% – 46.0%
- North Dakota (42%) 47.8% – 48.5%
- New Mexico* (42%) 27.2% – 34.8%
- Missouri (42%) 42.3% – 44.3%
- Florida* (42%) 39.6% – 43.0%
- West Virginia (41%) 49.0% – 49.5%
- South Dakota (41%) 46.4% – 47.4%
- Kansas (40%) 49.4% – 50.1%
- Arizona (40%) 46.7% – 48.8%
- Virginia* (39%) 33.5% – 37.6%
- Nebraska (39%) 47.9% – 48.6%
- Kentucky (36%) 45.9% – 47.3%
- North Carolina* (35%) 33.9% – 37.7%
- Tennessee (34%) 43.2% – 45.0%
- Idaho (33%) 48.5% – 49.3%
- Wyoming (32%) 51.5% – 51.9%
- Alaska (32%) 47.5% – 49.3%
- Utah (31%) 48.4% – 49.2%
- Arkansas (30%) 42.9% – 44.8%
- Oklahoma (29%) 48.0% – 49.4%
- Texas (26%) 34.9% – 39.6%
- South Carolina (26%) 32.4% – 36.3%
- Georgia (23%) 25.3% – 30.8%
- Louisiana (14%) 27.8% – 33.0%
- Mississippi (11%) 21.1% – 27.2%
- Alabama (10%) 25.1% – 30.6%
The Republicans thought they could fraternize with the teabaggers to win an election and then go on about their business. They were wrong (as were the corporate moguls who thought they could use the teabaggers). The teabaggers and their unsavory cohorts have now taken over the Republican Party and tarnished it with a racist and anti-minority image even worse than it already had.
Now they have painted themselves into a corner. They must win, if they can, with only white votes. Can they do it? It is unlikely, but it is just within the realm of possibility. But it’s going to become more unlikely with each future election, since the minority population is growing much faster than the white population.
Unless the Republicans can rid themselves of the teabaggers and other racist elements they may well be charting themselves a course to future extinction.
[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger.]