Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Death Of The Southern Strategy

Not enough of these guys left...

In 1968, Richard Nixon won the White House with a considerable assist from George Wallace.  From there on out, Republicans have used what Nixon's strategist Kevin Phillips called the Southern Strategy: pick off conservative white Southern Democrats with racial appeals.  It's why Reagan launched his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, why George HW ran the Willie Horton ad, why Romney decried the 47% and why the GOP has freaked the fuck out over "that one" in the White House.

But it looks like the efficacy of the Southern Strategy may have come to an end.

Obama fashioned a coalition of urban voters (not just African American, but predominantly so), young people, Hispanics, Asians, the non-religious and liberal whites.  And he rode that coalition to pretty convincing wins.  The 2008 election may have been a referendum on Bush, but 2012 showed that this coalition was not simply opposed to Bush.

Since November, the GOP gave some half assed lip service to "minority outreach".  Since then they have gutted the Voting Rights Act, probably killed Immigration Reform and introduced a slew of abortion restrictions in the state legislatures.  Outreach!

Josh Marshall puts it thusly:

At the moment we’re moving toward one party that is genuinely multi-racial in composition and another that is increasingly a white persons’ party, albeit having limited minority representation and a small number of non-white officeholders. There’s a small but substantial minority of the population that finds a new America where whites really aren’t the overwhelmingly dominant group, simply in numbers, very frightening. I’d put the number at somewhere between 20% and 25% of the population.* And they are overwhelmingly in the Republican party or they’re right-leaning independents who vote Republican.

But the problem, for the GOP, I think, goes deeper than that.

Barack Obama - I think the evidence shows - significantly under-performed among white voters.  In the "Cultural South", especially Appalachia, he performed much worse than John Kerry did among white voters.  There was not a lot happening between 2004 and 2008 to make white voters suddenly less likely to vote Democratic, except perhaps the attrition of the New Deal generation.

There was no "Bradley Effect" in the polling, but I think quite a few white people just didn't feel right voting for that Barack Hussein Obama fella.

As the story above notes, Hillary Clinton is well positioned to pick up some of those votes Obama lost, especially among white women.  Did you note how the GOP has started to swoon a little over Bill Clinton these days? Bubba was undoubtedly more "centrist" - especially on economic issues - than Obama.  The Clinton "brand" is still pretty strong in certain parts of the country.

What should have the GOP shaking in its boots (and I think is why smarter Congressional Republicans like McCain, Collin and Cole are bucking the Tea Party) is that Hillary Clinton could put an epic beat down out there in 2016.  If that happens, ACA gets implemented properly, which creates millions of potential new Democratic voters.  If that happens, the Supreme Court likely flips to the Democrats, with impacts on election law, commerce and all sorts of issues.  If that happens, the roadmap to a GOP White House gets very, very fuzzy, especially with Texas facing a demographic flip in the next decade.

Being the party of obstruction is not going to work.  Being the party of white people is not going to work.

* It's 27%.  It's always 27%.

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