Gallup released the results of a study on Monday showing the racial breakdown of political party affiliation since 1995. What the study revealed, and what most people have already figured out, is that with the election of President Obama in 2008, more white Americans have shifted party allegiance to the Republican Party, or have at least indicated they lean Republican. Meanwhile, Democrats continue to enjoy a huge advantage among non-whites, with almost no change in Democratic preference from the Clinton and Bush presidencies.
In 2008, nearly the same number of whites preferred the Democratic Party as they did the Republican Party. Starting in 2009, the trend line started to shift back towards the GOP. By 2010, during the Tea Party wave in the midterms, Republicans held a 12-point advantage with white people. The gap grew even larger in 2011, when it grew to 14 points. Since then, it has regressed a bit, but Democrats are still in the hole with whites by a full 10 points.
While Republicans have seen an uptick in white voters, Democrats have kept the same large advantage among minority voters. The percentage of minority voters who identified as Democratic as opposed to Republican in the Clinton and Bush years is almost exactly the same as during the first five years of the Obama presidency.
The problem for Republicans, of course, is that the country is becoming less and less white. While appealing to the raw emotional reaction that many white voters had when they saw a black man elected President, the Republican Party was able to utilize that to gain Congressional victories in 2010. However, they still saw a huge defeat in the Presidential election in 2012 and lost House and Senate seats as well. The short term gains they enjoyed in 2010 couldn’t be sustained.
While some Republicans have admitted that they need to do more to reach out to minorities and women, the problem lies not in their messaging, but the message itself. On top of that, they have a core group of white voters who feel more and more isolated and believe that their country ‘has left them behind.’ The question for the GOP is how do you pull in more non-white voters while still convincing your hardcore base that you are for white ethnocentrism? At the same time, how do you gain a majority of women voters when you push for policies that try to keep women subservient and at the mercy of men?
Will the Republican Party learn? Will they try to get behind more inclusive policies and try to lessen the offensive rhetoric towards minorities? It is doubtful. It appears that Republicans feel they will retain the House in the midterms and perhaps even pickup the Senate majority. Therefore, there is no reason for them to go from what they know. They will continue to move in a more conservative direction until it finally becomes unsustainable.
For now, the GOP movement is going to focus on voter suppression as their main minority outreach program. It won’t work in the end. Besides becoming less white, this country is also becoming more liberal. Any gains the GOP sees in the midterm elections this year will be temporary. If they continue to be the party of white privilege and identification, they will quickly become a regional party with no hopes of winning the Presidency or holding onto either Congressional chamber.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).