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California Rejects the White Man's Party

by: Robert Cruickshank

Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 12:00:00 PM PDT


Brown Whitman
White: 46 50
Black: 77 21
Latino: 64 30
Asian: 55 38
Other: 55 36
18-29: 59 32
30-44: 55 38
45-64: 53 43
65+ 47 48
The exit polling is clear - California Democrats won a big victory on Tuesday night because Jerry Brown and the rest of the Democratic ticket reached beyond the white base that constitutes the Republican electorate. At right you can see the exit polling results for the gubernatorial race, indicating that while Whitman won white voters overall and voters over 65, she did poorly everywhere else.

Democratic victories on Tuesday would have been even more substantial had more of the electorate showed up. 21% of voters were 65 and over, and 45% were between age 45 and 65, with just 12% being age 18-29. 62% were white, but 22% were Latino - and while Brown dominated among Latinos, he essentially split the white vote.

Overall, this paints a picture of a state whose electorate - even older white voters - do not respond well to exclusionist appeals. Whitman made much of her anti-immigrant, anti-Latino politics, and it not only cost her big among Latinos, it also helped her lose younger white voters whose vision of California is of a state where everyone is welcome and seen as an equally deserving member of society.

This trend is mirrored nationally. Pew Hispanic Center reports that Latinos broke 64-34 for Democrats across the country. In Nevada, Harry Reid put on a clinic in mobilizing a working class coalition led by Latinos to stop Sharron Angle.

In terms of ideology, here in California "moderates" broke 60-35 for Brown, with "independents" breaking 47-43 for Whitman. This might be explained partly by the trend the PCCC identified nationally, that many Obama independents stayed home out of frustration and left a more Republican-friendly bloc of independents to tip the balance of several elections around the country. Here in California, the fact that Republican-friendly independents are a much smaller portion of the overall electorate (all independents were 27% of the exit poll sample) may explain their lower impact.

Over at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum takes a look at the national polls and finds that the core of the Democratic coalition held together. A bloc of people who stayed home in 2008 - probably teabaggers - were the biggest movers to Republicans, along with whites, seniors, and rural voters. Urban voters, mothers, Millennials, and African Americans were the least likely to shift to the GOP.

So taken together, it seems clear that while older whites may have broken for Republicans, the rest of the population - i.e. the majority - either broke for the Democrats or only barely moved to the right. And since it's the shrinking parts of the population - whites and old folks - who broke most for Republicans, it'd be right to conclude that 2010 was a temporary setback for Democrats that can be reversed once the Obama Administration gets its head out of its ass and starts helping people get jobs instead of helping Wall Street get richer.

That's not how Kathleen Hennessy and James Oliphant put it in a absurd LA Times article:

Democrats searching for good news amid the rubble of Tuesday's midterm election results can look to Latinos and African Americans, two groups of voters that stayed with the party in large numbers.

But that, in a sense, is like taking comfort in that fact that as your house is falling down around you, it isn't also on fire.

The Democratic Party was overwhelmingly rejected by whites, independents and seniors. Perhaps most troubling to Democrats was that increasing numbers of women also turned toward the Republican Party.

How is that bad news? Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic group not just in California, but in the country. They clearly swung the California and Nevada elections, and perhaps several others. To put it gently, seniors are not exactly going to be in the electorate for very long, and whites' numbers are shrinking in the key battleground states.

The LA Times article also claims Dems are losing women:

The Democratic erosion was perhaps most accentuated by the flight of women, who were among the party's most enthusiastic supporters in 2006 and 2008. According to exit poll data, women essentially split their votes evenly between Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday. The last time that happened was in 2002.

White women in particular defected from Democrats, giving their votes to Republicans by an 18-point margin. Similarly, 57% percent of married women voted for Republicans, while unmarried women - a more liberal group - turned out in smaller numbers than in 2008.

I don't read this as a "flight" from Democrats. Lower turnout levels are a big part of this story. And here in California, women went for Brown 55-39. Clearly, women felt as many other voters did that the DC Democrats hadn't done enough to help repair the economy (which is true) and some stayed home, some voted Republican.

But there's really no evidence that the 2010 election portends long-term doom for Democrats. Instead it is Republicans who are in trouble. They won by appealing to a shrinking group of people who are determined to hog democracy and prosperity for themselves at the exclusion of the young and the nonwhite. If Republicans follow through, they will merely repeat Meg Whitman's error and alienate the rest of the electorate - Republicans cannot maintain their majorities for very long at all if they cannot win over people of color and younger voters of all backgrounds.

California and Nevada show the future - and it's a future where today's Republican Party, predicated on defense of white privilege, is doomed.

Robert Cruickshank :: California Rejects the White Man's Party
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I'm Getting Tired of the Stereotypes (4.00 / 1)
White women in particular defected from Democrats, giving their votes to Republicans by an 18-point margin. Similarly, 57% percent of married women voted for Republicans, while unmarried women - a more liberal group - turned out in smaller numbers than in 2008

The propaganda is getting real old.  I am 61, white, female, living in a rural community and I am probably far more left leaning than most Dems.  My husband is also an old white guy -- he votes the same way I do.  Most of the people I know and all of the people I work with are older and white and staunchly Democratic.  I really resent the assumption that those demographics make me a likely Repub voter.   I agree that our minority/youth populations are becoming big, important voting blocks, but don't write off all the old white folks. We're not all stupid!


Data is not the plural of anecdote (0.00 / 0)
But also, statistics aren't people.  

Those demographics DO make you a likely Republican voter.  For that matter, my demographics should also make me a likely Republican voter.

But neither of us are, because we're actual people -- and for me at least the Republican rejection of rule of law and principles of social justice is repugnant.  As pathetic as the Dem leadership often is, they're at least mostly not malignant.


[ Parent ]
what makes one a republican (0.00 / 0)
is a belief in white supremacy, white tribalism, not whiteness per se.

if you're threatened by becoming a majority, you might be a republican. if the whole way of phrasing it like that seems weird, you're probably a democrat.


[ Parent ]
not "white man's party", it's the "fear non-whites" party (4.00 / 1)
A significantly larger fraction of white people voted for Democrats (46% according to the poll) than the fraction of non-whites who voted for Republicans (no sub-group broke 40%).  That's because the Republicans have been running on fear of minorities ever since the Nixon "Southern Strategy" days.  When they say "take our country back", who do you think they want to take it back from?  Whites who don't fear non-whites are turned off by this kind of thing.

[ Parent ]
money (4.50 / 2)
this is going to be a fly by comment with no research or links, just personal anecdotal info i reflected on after reading this (and I've got to get back to work).

But my mother is white, almost 70, a lifelong Republican and lives in Riverside County...but she told me "there's no way I'm voting for her or Carly".  Of course, she wouldn't vote for Brown either, but she just said "she can't buy my vote and i don't trust her".

So not to discount the difference having Latino support and other trends along race make, just saying that this particular candidate also spend record amounts of money that turned A LOT of people off.  Today's seniors are generally more frugal and don't like to see so much wasted.

Another thing to think about regarding seniors.  The current crop - as you "gently" put it - may not be with us a lot longer, but there's a HUGE crop right behind them!  And with a broad brush, I have personally experienced many folks trending conservative as they age...so I think it would be interesting to track that.

Whatever all the reasons...at least California was primarily a bright spot in Tuesday's red tide.


Older voters (5.00 / 1)
Robert's snide and insensitive remarks about older voters "not being around much longer"  are not only shocking, but also politically stupid.

1. So-called senior voters are any voters age 60 and older.  So it is quite likely that these voters will be "around" for at least 20 years.

2. Older voters are more likely to vote than any other age demographic.

3. Statistics show that a critical element of the Democrats defeat Nov. 2nd was the movement of senior voters from Democrat in 2008 to Republican in 2010.

Months ago,  when the Obama political operatives launched a highly publicized campaign to get first-time 2008 voters to go to the polls this year,  I expressed concern that they were apparently writing off the most reliable voters--seniors.

Sadly, I was right. The first time voters didn't show this time.  And because the Democrats made little effort to counter the Republican lies about health care reform's negative impact on Medicare,  the older voters went the other way.

Robert, first you want to oppose  candidates who don't pass the perfect progressive litmus test.  Now you want to write off millions of older voters and rely on people who are far less likely to vote.  Subtracting these voters doesn't add up.

I am glad that Latinos and African-Americans stuck with the Democrats this time, although I wonder what will happen in the future if the GOP ever moderates its extremist stand on immigration.  But ignoring other voters is a recipe for disaster.


More interesting (and alarming?) trends... (0.00 / 0)
Using the same exit polling as Robert does, here are some other possible insights.  Some are alarming.  NOTE: these are for discussion and not a position statement:

  • Trend: Californian's ave. age is increasing. with the 45-64 segment growing fastest and the 65+ segment growing 2nd fastest.  Political concern:  Brown was strongest with the <45 crowd and weakest in the 45+ crowd; Whitman won (barely) the 65+ segment.

  • Trend:  We have a goal of reducing the HS dropout rate and increasing the % of Californians going to college  Political concern: Brown's biggest % margin of the vote was in "didn't complete HS".  Whiman's 2 strongest segments were "some college" and "completed college".  Post-grad loved Brown though.

  • Trend: Gallup found an increase in conservatives as a % of population from 2008 to 2010.  Even in CA, 22% more voters describe themselves as "conservative" than "liberal".  However, "Moderate" is the largest segment in CA (40%).  Political concern: Moderates in CA went for Brown (60%-35%) and delivered the margin of victory.  How do Progressives successfully build the base without losing these Moderates?

  • Trends: Median Household income in CA in 2008 was $61,000 (the ave, income for a CA Prison Guard and Fire Fighter is about 10% above this).  Political concern: Voters with HH Income of $75k+ actually voted for Whitman over Brown (50%-48%).  As the economy improves, does this hurt Progressives?

  • Trend: Independent voters may determine the victor.  Political concern: CA Independents went for Whitman by 47%-43%.  Unless Democrats maintain the current identification lead of 42% to 31% Republican, Democrats (and Progressives) may be threatened.

We need to solidify our gains and have policy programs to reach out to gain more voters or the demographics may leave us bitter and cranky.


Interesting Trends (0.00 / 0)
"We need to solidify our gains and have policy programs TO REACH OUT TO GAIN MORE VOTERS..."

Absolutely right.  That doesn't mean ignoring older voters or turning off independents. Do the math!


[ Parent ]
Nevada shows the future? (0.00 / 0)
You mean like nominating a guy with a Latino surname to fool enough people into thinking they're not about white privilege?

It worked.


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