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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Honky Chateau

The vicious circle in which the Republican Party currently finds itself is nicely illustrated by a new survey out from Gallup that looks at the ethnic composition of self-identified Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Democrats are Independents are quite diverse: 36% of Democrats and 27% of indies are Hispanic, African-American or from some other non-white ethnic groups. The number for Republicans is 11%. And of the 89% of Republicans who are non-Hispanic whites, fully 63% self-identify as conservatives. Furthermore, about half of Republicans are non-Hispanic whites who attend church weekly or more (that category represents 25% of indies and 20% of Democrats).
Demography isn’t always destiny in politics, but it matters, and Republicans simply don’t look like the fastest growing categories of the U.S. population. The Gallup survey doesn’t get into age, but a recent Pew poll showed under-30 voters splitting 58-33 (with leaners) in favor of Democrats.
So it isn’t terribly surprising that the faces and voices most associated with the national Republican Party belong to Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich: old, white conservative men. And whether it’s a matter of supply or demand, it’s natural that the latter two of these gentlemen have come to specialize in a sort of white identity politics, representing the smoldering resentment of some white folks–particularly men–towards those uppity people of color with their strange cultures.
Former Republican congressman Tom Davis made an interesting comment recently about the psychology of his party’s base that does a lot to explain its trajectory towards self-isolation: “I think the grass roots right now is in an ornery mood — ‘we are who we are.'”
That’s not a group of people who are terribly interested in greater diversity, demographically or ideologically. And in the long run, the more they insist on being “who we are,” the less anyone else will consider joining them.

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