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Young Voters, GOP, and Race


Last week, I took a look at two issues where young voters tend to diverge with older voters. Traditional Republican messaging about the gay marriage and the perils of big government is quite different from the ways young voters tend to look at the issues and if the Republican Party wants to prevent a generation of voters from becoming solidly Democratic, they should assess both the policies and messages that are used to reach out to younger voters.

But beyond these two topics, the Republican Party is facing changing demographic forces that present a challenge to its long term growth. This is not a new notion, and I am obliged to give credit where due: Ruy Teixeira and John Judis' 2002 book The Emerging Democratic Majority looked at political and population trends and predicted that in 2008 these trends would come together produce a Democratic majority.

While I haven't looked extensively at whether or not Teixeira and Judis' predictions have come to pass (2008 Democratic victory aside), I can certainly agree that the racial makeup of young voters supports their conclusion. In short, young voters are less likely to be white than voters overall and are becoming increasingly more diverse. While 77% of voters overall in 2004 were white, only 68% of voters under age 30 were white. By 2008, that number was only 62%. Both African-Americans and Hispanics were found in higher proportions among young voters. In 2004, African-Americans made up 15% of young voters while making up 11% of voters overall; 13% of voters 18-29 were Hispanic compared to 8% of voters overall. By 2008 those numbers had increased, with African-Americans comprising 18% of voters 18-29 and with Hispanics comprising 14%.

So what does this mean for a Republican Party that has been branded (fairly or unfairly) as a party of "old white guys"? Put simply, the party cannot survive with this label attached. The recent demographic changes in the United States have been extraordinary; between the 1990 and 2000 Censuses, the number of Hispanics in the United States increased from 22.4 million to 35.3 million, and increase of over 58%. In 1980, 80% of the population identified as white (non-Hispanic); by 2000, that number had fallen to 69% of the population. These changes have expressed themselves in the demographic makeup of the younger voting cohort. With future generations of voters less and less likely to be made up of overwhelming proportions white non-Hispanics, the issue of expanding the Republican Party's appeal to younger voters is inextricably linked with the issue of expanding the party's appeal to minority communities.

In addition to the makeup of the voters themselves, today's young voters have grown up in a society that handles race in a dramatically different way than previous generations. Take for instance college campuses across the United States. In October 1985, there were some 10,846,000 Americans enrolled in college, 9,323,000 of which were white and just over 1,000,000 were African-American. Hispanics made up 579,000 of those enrolled in college as well. By the 2000 Census, those numbers had exploded; just over 17.4 million Americans were enrolled in college and of those, about 11.6 million were white non-Hispanic, while another 1.9 million were Hispanic and 2.2 million were African American. While college enrollment overall was up by 62% in 2000 over 1985, enrollment among Hispanics had more than tripled and more than doubled for African-Americans.

Universities across the United States today boast more diverse student bodies than in decades prior and students in those institutions are far more likely to interact with people of other races and cultures than previous generations. A party that appears to be uninterested in the concerns of (or votes of) African-Americans or Hispanics does not only risk forfeiting a growing segment of the population (and educated population) as a whole. But as white students attend schools and universities with more diverse student populations, the needs and concerns of the African-American and Hispanic communities will not be the abstract concerns of a group of citizens with which they have little contact; quite the contrary, a generation more accustomed to a multicultural America will be likely to find a racially homogenous party to be out of touch. So long as the Republican Party appears inattentive to the needs and desires of minority communities, the Republican Party can be almost certain to retain its minority party status.

President George W. Bush appointed numerous African-Americans to his cabinet during his eight years in the White House - National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as well as Secretary of State Colin Powell to name some of the most prominent appointees. Yet despite the prominent placement of African-Americans in the Bush cabinet, no gains were made among African-American voters. The impact of the election of former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, an African-American, to the leadership of the Republican Party has yet to be seen. Indeed, Steele was largely derided early in his term for such statements as his expressed desire to take conservative principles and "to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings".

African-Americans and Hispanics need to be given reasons to believe that their concerns are being legitimately heard and addressed by the Republican Party. Republicans have had a great deal of success with the Hispanic vote in Florida (particularly the Cuban community) in the past in part as a result of the Republican Party's tough stance on Cuba. In the 2000 campaign,80% of Cubans in the state of Florida voted for George W. Bush, proving a key component of the victory in that state where a margin of 537 votes ostensibly handed Bush the Presidency. By authentically addressing a concern of a portion of the Hispanic community, Republicans helped to develop a credible base of support.

Yet the Republican Party continues to stumble in terms of its handling of the Hispanic and African-American communities. For instance, in late December 2008, candidate for RNC Chair Chip Saltsman, the former campaign manager for the Huckabee presidential campaign, distributed a CD of songs including a track entitled "Barack the Magic Negro", prompting outrage and a rather public and embarrassing moment for the Republican Party. Perhaps even more surprising, some leaders within the Republican Party rushed to Saltsman's aid as POLITICO ran a story with the headline "'Magic Negro' flap might help Saltsman".

Just a troubling is the perception that the GOP ignores minority communities; in 2007, the four major contenders for the Republican presidential nomination declined to attend a forum on issues relevant to the African-American community, and Univision had to cancel a discussion it planned when only McCain agreed to attend.

This incident is to say nothing of the damage to the Republican Party's standing among Hispanics that occurred as a result of the immigration debate that flared in the Summer of 2007; according to a Pew Research Center study, while in July of 2006 Democrats enjoyed only a 21 point party identification advantage among Hispanics, by December of 2007 that had widened out to a 34 point Democratic advantage, alongside a sharp increase in the importance of the immigration issue among Hispanics. In 2004, Bush lost Hispanic voter 44-53, a 9 point margin, yet by 2008, McCain lost Hispanics to Obama by a 36 point margin, garnering 31% of the Hispanic vote compared to the 67% that voted for Obama.

Younger voters are more comfortable with immigration reform than are older voters. In a May 2008 New Models study, age was a significant factor in terms of belief in the statement "Illegal immigration is significantly hurting the country". While a majority of young voters still believe the statement (51%), there is a softening of opinion among young voters compared to the overall (62%) and particularly compared to older voting groups. Furthermore, in a Spring 2008 Harvard Institute of Politics study of 18-24 year olds, when presented with an immigration reform proposal that would give "illegal immigrants now living in the U.S. the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements", 46% of the respondents in the Harvard study supported the proposal while 30% opposed it and 24% neither supported nor opposed. This is not to say younger voters are not concerned about illegal immigration, but rather that they are likely to be more open to reform.

The importance of addressing the needs of minority groups is clear. As a younger and more diverse cohort seeks a party to identify with, the Republican Party must authentically address issues of concern to minority communities. As African-Americans and Hispanics seek opportunities for socioeconomic mobility, efforts such as those to reform education and improve opportunities for small business should be promoted. These policies, such as efforts to improve teacher quality and to reduce needless regulation and taxes on small businesses, would not be a stretch for Republicans to support and speak to the concerns of minority communities.

Moving forward, in order to remain a party that is acceptable for young voters, the Republican Party must shed its image as the party of "old white guys". This includes a change in tone and messaging from those who are the face of the party (in an official or unofficial capacity) as well as an emphasis on policies that have proven, positive outcomes for minority communities. America is quickly becoming an increasingly diverse nation, and the Republican Party must evolve its message and agenda to address these changes in order to have relevance with young voters.

 

Comments
IdahoMulato:

I really enjoyed reading this piece especially the content & grammar. I'm a mulato born to African father & American white but raised in Ghana. When I came back to the US in 2003, I taught the Repub party was the party for me b'coz I consider myself a conservative in social terms but not really fiscally. However, after listening to Rush Limbaugh, (b'coz in Pocatello, Idaho that's the only radio station I could reach), I became very hostile to GOP talking points.

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Wellstone:

Kristen, you have been making these points for months now, and I hear the crickets chirping.

See, the GOP right now is convinced it lost in 2008 because it wasn't Conservative enough, it wasn't hateful enough to Mexicans, immigrants, and colored people, it wasn't crooked or violent enough in disenfranchising those groups it cannot, will not accept.

I think if you're young, intelligent, informed; no matter what race, sexual preference, color, creed, gender, or economic level, you are NOT going to look to the GOP to represent your interests.

How long are you going to keep on telling them what they know already? They UNDERSTAND the problem, Kristin, five years ago Ken Mehlman went in front of the NAACP and apologized for the GOP. He was hounded for months by the membership, and as soon as he left, they took apart his whole initiative.

They get it. They just will not change.

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txdude10:

The Republican Party today finds itself at a crossroad: it can either expand its base beyond the old white southern racists and segregationists and become electorally competitive or remain beholden to them and be confined to political wilderness for years to come.

As an American of African origin, I surely hope that the Republican Party choose the former alternative for the sake of our democracy. There cannot be a viable democracy without vigorous and close party competition.

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Harry:

This article is unfair and worse it’s untrue.
The republican party has more than just old white men.
They have old white women too!
Especially the mean, grumpy, nasty old brain-dead white women!

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dopper0189:

¡sǝʌıʇɐʌɹǝsuoɔ puɐs ǝɥʇ uı pɐǝɥ ɹnoʎ ʇnd

¡ʎɐʍɐ oƃ llıʍ ʎǝɥʇ uǝɥʇ ǝʞıl ʇ,uop ʎǝɥʇ sʇɔɐɟ ǝɹouƃı ʇsnɾ plnoɥs sǝʌıʇɐʌɹǝsuoɔ

¡pɐǝɥ ɹnoʎ uo puɐʇs noʎ uǝɥʍ ǝsuǝs ǝɹoɯ sǝʞɐɯ ɯsıʇɐʌɹǝsuoɔ

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Ms Solti:

I am a Black male who is a Black Conservative rahter than a Republican. I tell you this not to get something in the way of a special treatment from you but for a more pennitrating perspective.

You said:

[quote] A party that appears to be uninterested in the concerns of (or votes of) African-Americans or Hispanics does not only risk forfeiting a growing segment of the population (and educated population) as a whole.[/quote]

Do you ever reverse the argument and make note that in the areas where Blacks, Hispanics and certain segments of the White community live despite being solid Democratic /Progressive majorities - the key grievances of the masses go unresolved. Why don't we see a sustained attack on the establishment in these places in response to:

* Failing Schools

* Crime Ridden Streets

* Eroding Economic Condtiions

Is the problem really "non-interest" or is the problem EFFECTIVENESS in resolving problems? Indeed progressive and conservatives have differing viewpoints on many things. We should not confuse what is "popularly assumed to be" the best way forward with "what is PROVABLY the way forward".

Ms Soltis - when does the statement "We don't like conservatives and thus we don't vote for them because they don't support what we beleive is the pathway to receive our permanent interests" over to " DESPITE having a full compliment of favorable elected officials in place in pursuit of our interests - they have not delievered upon our permanent interests. It is time that we take a step back and make sure that our assumptions regarding how to move forward are correct"?

Does one ever question the presence of BIGOTRY in place in these entrenched progressive places?

Ms Soltis -

The court case in New Haven speaks to ASSUMED Black inferiority by the system. I am most angered with Black people subject themselves to this position for the want of a certain benefit. .

When a system that was designed to parcel out the scarce resource known as leutinant positions in the fire department did not produce the intended "diversity" results - the results were thrown out and some other system that purported to deliver more "favorable" results was implemented.

Tell me one civil rights activist who would support this action IF it flowed against their interests?

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Vicente Duque:

Kristen Soltis :

I love this topics that you present to us in POLLSTER.COM - I am a fan of John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira, also a fan of Morley Winograd and Mike Hais. One of my favorite topics of study is Youth and Political Orientation. I always google for these names to see what is new in Youth and Politics.

I wrote a piece that can be foolish and not worthy of POLLSTER.COM - It can also be unjust and exaggerated with Republicans. - Erase it please if it is offensive. And forgive me.

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The Vampire Dracula of Transylvania and the vampiresque Republican Party - Drinking the Blood of Youth - Immigration Reform



The Vampire Dracula has a zombie life, he gets out of his tomb in the dungeons of the castle in order to drink blood and get some life out of it.

Dracula can not drink the blood of old people, those that are sick and in Geriatric Homes or Gerontological Asylums. Those crippled and sick of old age in wheelchairs have a blood that is useless for the purposes of Dracula.

Dracula needs the Hematocites and Leucocites of Young People, those in elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities.

And the Republican Party is having a zombie life in its tomb, half death, half alive, and needs a "Common Enemy" and an "Enemy of America" in order to resurrect and have a "revival", a word that charms its very conservative and religious extremist base.

America has millions of Decent, Noble and Kind People, Hearts of Gold, and they are the big majority, but there are many other losers that need hate as revenge for their failed lives.

And what "Common Enemy" and "Enemy of America" can be the best for those racists, haters, losers and failed lives in the streets of America ??

The Republican Party needs the Hate against Latinos in order to revive, revitalize and reinvigorate, for a "Republican Revival". That is the Blood of Youth, because Latinos are mostly in Elementary Schools, in High Schools, and now want Higher Education in Colleges and Universities.

Latinos are "Youth Blood" and a big part of a Great Future for America. But Republicans want to drink that blood with their Racism and Hatred. Even if they expulse and evict those Youngsters out of America.

So, Mr Obama should be careful not to paralyze Government and his Administration Legislative Agenda with a "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" because that is what these Merchants of Hatred in Racist TV want in order to agitate the masses of ignorants, of fools, idiots and losers, the boxes of Inferiority Complexes.

The "Immigration Reform" would increase the profits of the Merchants of Hate, the Peddlers of Fear, in Racist TV.

When you are a failure in life, nothing is better than to choose a defenseless victim and become a bully, then you are the Superior Race, and suddenly you got a lot value and self respect, even if you are trash.

"Immigration Reform" is a "Pandora's Box" for Mr Obama, because there is too much Racism and Hatred. This needs a much more mature country, and a more mature Republican Party in times of Economic Prosperity and not of Economic Suffering.

When the Republican Party has adults in it, when it is not led by the Media Racists of Histrionic Radio, and Histrionic TV, with ridiculous gestures and grimaces and tears, while crying "God !!!, God !!!, God !!"

These TV Racists are like Hysterics and Possessed, the most Hypocrite People in the World, the masters of Hypocrisy and owners of "God" ...

Let these Hypocrites TV anchors claim in the desert while there is no "Immigration Reform" until the day that there is more resposibility in Congress and the Economy is recovered, stable and strong.

"Immigration Reform is Kryptonite for Mr Obama and the Democratic Party.

Milenials.com

Vicente Duque

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Vicente Duque:


I know that the Republican Party is the Party of Abraham Lincoln and the Abolition of Slavery.

I also know that many Republicans were killed for defending the most basic right of Blacks. For example the right to vote. That was in the era from 1880 to 1920 or something like that. The Republican Party was the Party of Civil Rights in the South and in the U. S. Congress.

We can not sin by omission. Denying homage to some of the Best Americans and also Republicans.

I feel somewhat guilty and repentant that I use some sarcasms against Republicans. It is that I love to laugh at idiots ( a small percentage of Republicans ) and I can not resist the temptation to attack.

I pray for the day when Republicans return to Lincoln and to such Noble and Kind People of the South that fought for Civil Rights.

There are many Good Republicans that despise meanness against Minorities.

I would have loved if Mr Michael Steele had ratified the accusation of "Incendiary" against a Radio Agitator.

I would have preferred a Division of Republicans than the meekness of kneeling before the worst of intolerance.

Raciality.com

Vicente Duque

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