Markos Moulitsas at DailyKos has a nice piece, in which he calls for Democrats to stop pining after the mythical “persuadable independent voter”- most research has shown independents favor one party or the other the majority of the time anyway- and instead to appeal to base voters who had been unlikely to vote. For instance, “in Georgia, Democrats estimate that there are nearly 600,000 unregistered African Americans. Romney won the state by 300,000 in 2012. Compounding the problem, Democrats also estimate that about 600,000 Georgians who voted for Obama won’t turn out in 2014 on their own initiative to vote for Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn.”
Kos is certainly right, Democrats would do better not to act like Wendy Davis and hew to the right to appeal to independents, but to be strong, proud, liberals, and focus on turning their base voters out. But here, I want to focus on what happens when all, or even most, of those base voters actually do turn out, in Presidential years.
As many knows, President Obama united a coalition of the young, minorities, women, Latinos, and more to a relatively easy 332 to 206 win in the electoral college, taking 65,915,796 votes, to Governor Mitt Romney’s 60,933,500 votes. The Democratic coalition consisted of usual stalwarts California, New York, and Illinois, and has recently expanded into Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and Ohio in the last several elections.
And things are only getting better for the Democrats. As Political Scientist Ruy Teixeira wrote:
How bad could 2016 be for Republicans? Pretty bad. Start with the likelihood that minorities, who voted 80 percent for Obama, will increase by 2 points to 30 percent of voters. Add to that the continued growth of heavily Democratic Millennial generation voters within the electorate, whose numbers will increase by about 4 million a year. By the 2016 election, Millennials should be about 36 percent of eligible voters and roughly a third of actual voters. That’s quite a tail wind for whomever the Democratic nominee may be.
That, of course, doesn’t even take into account the more macabre effect of the Republican’s base, largely consisting of the elderly (even though they want to gut Social Security?),getting smaller every day. The next generation of elderly that replace them have proven to be much less conservative and much more open to government intervention.
These are all basic facts, readily apparent to anyone willing to look at them. For many Republicans, though they do their best not to admit most facts, know that they are outnumbered.
The “Leave it to Beaver” days of apple pies cooling on windowsills, ballgames and rich white men running the country are over, and they can feel it. No, they won’t admit it, but that is the animus driving “Obama derangement syndrome“. That is the reason Republicans search for a scandal, any scandal, no matter how many tribunals clear the President of any wrongdoing, to mar his administration’s legitimacy, and show that the country really still is “theirs”. One mustn’t read the hateful screeds at NewsMax or RedState to know exactly what I’m talking about.
This feeling of disempowerment, that casts itself over yesterday’s Mad Men, invades every aspect of their political thinking, and the result is a virulently angry bloc of voters who aren’t just wary of compromise with the other side, but feel downright betrayed if anyone from their party so much as looks at the Democrats. That’s how you get a party that refuses to extend unemployment benefits for the poor, even as we struggle back from the worst recession in a generation. It’s how you get a base that not only refuses to see immigrants already here legalized, but would like to deport them, even though ALL of the evidence shows, and anybody with half a brain knows, immigrants are good for the economy. And it’s how you get a party that is willing to shut down the government and cause it to default, leading to a global economic shock in the measure of what we saw in 2008-09, in order to stop some of “those people” gaining access to health insurance.
People that hunt, I’m not one, have some sort of expression that there’s no animal more dangerous than one that’s cornered. The same is true of the Republican party. Besieged by demographics that are insurmountable, beholden to a base that struggles to hold on to its privileged past, the Republican party is likely to lash out in unpredictable and damaging ways in coming years.