Friday, August 07, 2009

US Senate confirms Sonia Sotomayor as first Latina supreme court justice.

I do sometimes wonder if the Republican party have given up all hope of ever widening their base and reaching out to the women and the Latino voters which they need if they are to have any hope of being re-elected.

Sonia Sotomayor overcame the last obstacle to becoming the first Latina on the US supreme court when the Senate today confirmed her appointment.

Senators voted 68 to 31 in favour, with only the Democrat Edward Kennedy, who is ill, missing. Democrats were joined by some Republicans to vote her in. All 31 votes against were Republican.

It doesn't look like it. And Tom Edsall detects a reason for that:

With Republican party leaders so constrained by ideological blinders that none of their positions is likely to produce gains among non-white minorities, especially Hispanics, the GOP is finding it has no real alternative but to revert to a "white voter" strategy.

To some extent, it's working. The party's opposition to President Obama's agenda -- particularly his cap-and-trade energy proposal and health care reform plan -- is resonating strongly with disaffected white Democratic voters. Republican grievances about Obama, combined with race-baiting commentary from the far-right ideologues who have become some of the most dominant voices of the modern GOP, have led to a precipitous drop in the president's approval ratings among whites.

It's all very reminiscent of the party's notorious Southern Strategy, which carried the GOP for decades. But that strategy backfired spectacularly in the 2006 and 2008 elections, and there's no reason to think it will work any better in 2010 -- especially given the ever-growing importance of the minority electorate.

I have wondered why the Republicans seem to be concentrating on race as much as they have been doing, with Beck calling Obama racist and Buchanan insisting that the world is tilting against whites; but, if Edsall is correct, then we are in for an awful lot more of this shit over the next four years.
The appeal of the anti-Obama agenda has proven to be particularly strong among whites of low and moderate incomes. The Pew Center, tracking evaluations of Obama's job performance, found in a July 30 report that there "has been essentially no shift in opinion among affluent whites [but] among whites with annual family incomes of less than $75,000, Obama's approval ratings have declined substantially (from 57% in June to 47% today). Assessments of Obama's performance remain high among African Americans (85%)."
This strategy may work amongst low income whites, but the numbers have changed since Nixon so successfully played his racist game. It will no longer be enough for the Republicans to rely on the consolidation of "fiscal conservatives, international hawks, and Southern White conservatives" to win elections. The numbers simply don't favour such a strategy anymore.

The biggest problem for Republicans can be found in death rates and birthrates. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, white males make up approximately 40% of deaths recorded annually and approximately 25% of all births. The actual number of white male births has dropped by approximately 20,000 births a year over the last two decades. During the 1980’s White males represented over 35% of the population. US Census Bureau’s projections estimate that the percentage of white males in the populations will be below 30% by 2025 and below 25% by 2050. The winning formula has no future.

A key element to the winning formula is the vote of women. In 2004 according to CNN, an election that for all practical purposes ended in a tie of the popular vote, married women voted 55% for the Republican presidential candidate while 62% of unmarried women voted for the Democrat. The percentage of women unmarried has continued to increase for every decade since 1950. Another area to watch is women with bachelor’s degrees. This demographic is growing phenomenally fast. According to since 2000 the number of women over the age of 18 with degrees has increased by an average of 600,000 per year. Women with degrees vote over 55% for Democrats. In November’s election women under the age of 24 with degrees voted over 75% for the Democratic presidential candidate. These trends also work against the winning formula.

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