Charles Murray: All is Not Lost … Yet

Charles Murray has good news for Republicans who are worried that demographic shifts will place them on the endangered species list. Well, … good news after a fashion.

From his blog at AEI:

The changing ethnic makeup of the electorate spells doom for the GOP unless it can figure out a way to appeal to minorities, right? Everybody knows that.

I thought I knew it too, and so, as part of the book I’m working on, I set out to document this universally acknowledged truth with numbers. I hereby concede defeat. The GOP is facing a demographic headwind, but for the next few election cycles it is a zephyr rather than a gale.

It seems impossible that the headwind is not already a gale, or even a hurricane. After all, we know from the national census that non-Latino whites (hereafter just whites) fell to 64% of the population in 2010, while Latinos continued their skyrocketing rise, now constituting 16% of the population, overtaking African Americans as the nation’s largest minority. We know from the National Election Pool exit polls, the one used by all the major news organizations, that Democrats captured large majorities of Latinos (averaging 64% of the vote), blacks (92%) and Asians (62%) in the four presidential elections from 2000 through 2012. The Census Bureau’s projections tell us that America’s minorities will continue to increase as a proportion of the population, with whites becoming a minority of all Americans in the early 2040s.

And yet, when these numbers are plugged into the standard arithmetic for predicting voting outcomes, the expected increase in the Democratic vote in 2016 is not five, six, or seven percentage points. Nor even one or two percentage points. The demographic changes I just described may be expected to produce an increase in the Democratic presidential vote of just three-tenths of one percentage point.

How is that possible? Because I neglected to mention one other set of numbers that goes into that arithmetic, also produced by the Census Bureau in periodic special surveys for the November Current Population survey: Voter turnout. In the presidential elections from 2000 through 2008 (the 2012 figures aren’t yet available), the percentage of Americans eighteen years and older who actually voted averaged 57%. But those percentages varied widely by ethnic group. Among whites, the average turnout was 64%. Among blacks, 57%. Among Latinos and Asians, just 29%.

That’s why the headwind is so feeble in the near term. Between 2012 and 2016, the Census Bureau estimates that the population of voting-age Latinos will increase by 3.9 million people compared to an increase of just 1.8 million whites. But because of their much lower turnout, the expected increase in Latino voters is 9,513 fewer—yes, fewer—than the expected increase in white voters. The only reason that the Democrats can expect even a microscopic 0.3 percentage point increase in the 2016 vote is because of an increase in the black voting-age population.

Sure, it’s basically the definition of cold comfort. As Murray himself goes on to note, the long-term prognosis is still not good. But it’s a reprieve. The question then becomes whether we can use the extra time for some productive purpose — such as weakening the link between ethnicity and partisan affiliation. That, of course, leaves an unanswered question: how?

  1. Scott R

    Well, we don’t want to entirely weaken the link between ethnicity and partisan affiliation: Our increasing success in winning the white vote is a trend we should hope continues, since it’s a factor that’s helping us weather the demographic hurricane (or zephyr or whatever it is).  

  2. wmartin

    Getting more working-class whites on our side by being very tough with hispanic illegals would be a good start at upping our percentage of the white vote. But of course, the stupid party is going in the opposite direction…

    Restricting legal immigration would also be a great way to get more white college-educated STEM types on our side. But of course, the stupid party is going in the opposite direction…

  3. Scott R

    Murrays figures illustrate why GOTV and early voting efforts are so central to the Democrats’ prospects. If they can get Hispanic turnout to approach black turnout, and black turnout to approach white turnout, then, yeah, we’re doomed.

  4. wmartin
    Scott Reusser: Murrays figures illustrate why GOTV and early voting efforts are so central to the Democrats’ prospects. If they can get Hispanic turnout to approach black turnout, and black turnout to approach white turnout, then, yeah, we’re doomed. · 3 minutes ago

    “Election Day” -the fact that there is one specific day where you must do something and be reasonably conscientious about showing up on  time and executing the action- was very good at weeding out marginal voters who are much more likely to vote Democratic.

  5. Adam Koslin

    I wonder why Asian-American and Latino participation rates are so abysmal?  Regardless of whether or not they vote for candidates we prefer, we ought to seek to address this.  Democracy only works when the demos is actually involved in the public debate over policy.  A republic only functions when the representatives being elected aren’t completely out of sync with the public they’re supposed to be acting on behalf of.  

    In fact, that horrible turnout rate is actually to our advantage; who are we to think that the (apparently) apolitical super-majorities of Latinos and Asian-Americans are irrevocably committed to the Democratic party?  People on this site and in the conservative ranks have talked about the death of the Republic…perhaps if we revive civic and political participation, policies we prefer might follow.

  6. Sumomitch

    How indeed? The only 2 solutions I can come up with: (1) undermine Hispanic ethnic identity politics by eliminating the most obvious spoils for ethnic identification:  affirmative action in all government and private sector. Asians and Hispanics may well integrate into the mass of “white voters” just as southern european immigrants did, but not as long as checking that box entitles them to benefits as against “whites.”

    (2) Play the ethnic identity game by nominating candidates that are, say Hispanic, against Democrats that are white. (This only works if the Democrats don’t trump the move with a minority candidate of their own; Obama’s turnout among Hispanics suggests that any minority will work, but we haven’t seen the true test of that: a Republican Hispanic against a Democrat black.) Of course, this solution assumes that the white Republican base and/or blue collar white R-leaners won’t stay away in numbers sufficient to eliminate the ethnic advantage. Personally, I find option 2 loathsome in its implications (giving up on a race-blind democracy) but sadly, that may be a fond dream anyway–certainly no one on the Left believes it.

  7. Roberto
    Troy Senik, Ed.: The question then becomes whether we can use the extra time for some productive purpose — such as weakening the link between ethnicity and partisan affiliation. That, of course, leaves an unanswered question:how? ·

    If you never try you always fail and the GOP never even makes an attempt in this matter. Breaking the link between ethnicity and partisan affiliation? Even that is wrong, the premise itself is horribly flawed. The  entire basis of this appeal to citizens should be attacked for the vile racist creed that it is. 

    What is Affirmative Action other than judging individuals by the color of their skin? What are Minority Set-Asides other than rewarding people of the “proper” ethnicity with federal contracts? What is Democrat redistricting that shoves everyone of the same racial heritage into one voting block but a manner of placing citizens into ethnic ghettos? 

    See how the GOP tacitly accepts all of this! This is  how third world countries are governed, splitting the subjects into ethnic/tribal/religious camps.

    Is it not long past time for a call to unite us all as Americans  and to denounce Democrat power games that divide us all as hyphen-Americans?

  8. PracticalMary

    Voter fraud may cancel out voter turn out.

  9. Garrett Petersen
    Troy Senik, Ed.: As Murray himself goes on to note, the long-term prognosis is still not good.

    The long term is impossible to predict.  Let’s just win in the short term and show everyone that our policies are better.

  10. Casey

    This is their game. They are really good at it. When we try to play their game we lose. We stink at this. It isn’t productive to even think about it. We can win if we think universal message. Let’s make them play our game for a change.

  11. Palaeologus

    How?

    There are two obvious ways to de-link ethnic (or any) groups to parties:

    1. Lower the stakes of partisanship for a given group, i.e. concede and/or muddy differences on the issue(s), or public demeanor(s) most important to that group.

    2. Change the way said group views the world and its own interests.

    Leftists do both consistently, because they are in the long game. Right wing sympathizers mostly focus on the former. Obviously there are plenty of exceptions like Charles Murray.

    However, for every Charles there are fifty education PHDs, hundreds of collegiate Intro to Writing instructors, thousands of High School English teachers…

    They are better disciplined, more focused, and it shows.

  12. Fredösphere

    Another thing to keep in mind is that a good portion of Hispanics “turn into” whites in a couple generations or three.

  13. wmartin
    Fredösphere: Another thing to keep in mind is that a good portion of Hispanics “turn into” whites in a couple generations or three. · 3 minutes ago

    Really? The story of the last two decades has been the dis-assimilation of that third Hispanic generation, as they become more stridently “ethnic” and more liberal. Everyone from Charles Murray to David Frum has written extensively about this.

  14. epoche

    The key is to stop playing nice. I have friends who have children that have graduated college and are living in their parents basement living near women who had kids at 16 and are receiving 8k earned income credit checks. Ultimately I dont think it is possible for those people to be living near each other in the long term. The republicans need an alternative to identity politics.

  15. kylez
    Fredösphere: Another thing to keep in mind is that a good portion of Hispanics “turn into” whites in a couple generations or three. · 16 hours ago

    but the nation will be lost by then.

  16. epoche

    the key is to tell them that obviously you see things differently than we do perhaps we could resolve this issue by bringing back segregation (restrictive covenants). We could fund the re-segregation movement by posting a racist and sexist ad for employment and then make a movement about the eeoc and its response. then we could make a movie about the civil rights grievance rackets such as the AAUW and the Urban League and this would prove what precisely? that people who share nothing in common should be forced to associate with each other or should not?