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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ross Douthat: Democrats Get a Gift From the Roberts Court

…the Roberts Court may have actually handed the Democratic Party a political gift.
…When Nate Silver looked at studies assessing the impact of voter ID laws, he estimated that they tend to reduce turnout by around 2 percent — and that reduction crosses racial lines, rather than affecting African-Americans exclusively.
A 2 percent dip is still enough to influence a close election. But voter ID laws don’t take effect in a vacuum: as they’re debated, passed and contested in court, they shape voter preferences and influence voter enthusiasm in ways that might well outstrip their direct influence on turnout. They inspire registration drives and education efforts; they help activists fund-raise and organize; they raise the specter of past injustices; they reinforce a narrative that their architects are indifferent or hostile to minorities.
This, I suspect, is part of the story of why African-American turnout didn’t fall off as expected between 2008 and 2012. By trying to restrict the franchise on the margins, Republican state legislators handed Democrats a powerful tool for mobilization and persuasion, and motivated voters who might otherwise have lost some of their enthusiasm after the euphoria of “Yes We Can” gave way to the reality of a stagnant, high-unemployment economy.
So a lengthy battle over voting rules and voting rights seems almost precision-designed to help the Obama-era Democratic majority endure once President Obama has left the Oval Office….Liberal demagogy notwithstanding, voter ID laws aren’t a way for Republicans to turn the clock back and make sure that it’s always 1965. But they are a good way for Republicans to ensure that African-Americans keep voting like it’s always 2008

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