Republicans and conservatives are feeling their oats now as the 2010 elections draw near and Democrats seem to be bracing for the thumping they’re liking to receive from voters upset at President Obama’s massive spending and promised tax increases but beyond the coming election, Democrats’ prospects aren’t as dire as they may seem, particularly at the national level.
The reason for this is the Hispanic vote, a group that has received an increasing amount of attention from the White House of late. Talk radio host Michael Medved ran the numbers in an op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
According to a revealing poll from Quinnipiac University (covering 2,181 registered voters in late July), only 36% of American voters would support Mr. Obama against an unnamed Republican candidate “if the 2012 election were held today.” The main reason for the president’s performance in this survey is his pathetic standing among self-identified white voters: Only 28% of the nation’s demographically dominant racial group plans to back him for a second term.
Republicans look at those numbers and say there is no way that Mr. Obama can recover without bringing about a major turnaround with the white majority. Yet Democrats point to the figures and argue that the president will safely win a second term even with this dismal performance in the white community—as long as he replicates his 2008 popularity among African-Americans, Latinos and Asians. They also believe he may do even better among Latinos and Asians when he runs in 2012.
Is this reasoning realistic or ridiculous?
The truth is that Mr. Obama’s low standing among white voters is nothing new. He lost that group to John McCain in 2008, winning only 43%. If he fails to improve his terrible standing in the current Quinnipiac poll, and if all currently undecided white voters (25%) break down in the same way as those who have already made up their minds, he’d end up with 38% of white votes.
That’s obviously a worse performance than four years ago, but it would yield approximately the same percentage of the overall electorate. Why? Because all observers agree that white voters will comprise a smaller piece of the total voting population than the 74% they represented two years ago. With strong increases in the Latino and Asian voting blocs—due to general population growth and sharply increasing rates of citizenship through naturalization—the “non-Hispanic white” electorate will likely slip to 70%, or perhaps slightly lower.
If the president performs as poorly in the white community as current polls indicate, he will still win an electoral majority as long as he commands the same percentage of nonwhite voters (83%) that he won in 2008. This seems entirely possible, and based on current polls, it looks likely.
The Quinnipiac survey indicates that Mr. Obama still enjoys huge popularity among people of color, winning his trial heat against an unspecified Republican 44 to 1 among blacks (87% to 2%) and nearly 2 to 1 among Latinos (49% to 26%). In other words, the president maintains his near unanimous support in the black community and has dipped only slightly among Hispanics, where he drew a commanding 67% of the vote in 2008.
I’m not quite sure that Medved is correct about the rate of decline of white voters, but it is at least worth considering if you are a conservative and/or a Republican. Obama seems to be following this strategy given his attempts to counter the Arizona immigration enforcement law as a way to stave off lower approval ratings from Hispanics that he’s been plagued with lately. Obama is down to nearly 50% approval among Hispanics so expect more efforts from the White House to try to court them.
And speaking of news that the political parties don’t want to hear, bad news for Democrats on the continued high unemployment rates:
A poor economy never bodes well for incumbents. Cook Report, the nonpartisan political newsletter that tracks congressional races, estimates that 73 House seats are vulnerable—including Mr. Schauer’s. This group has two things in common. Almost all (66 of 73) are held by Democrats, and most include counties that have unemployment rates exceeding the national average, according to data assembled by The Wall Street Journal.In the seven counties of Mr. Schauer’s district, for example, the unemployment rate ranges between 9.3% and 15.4%. In only one is it below the national average of 9.5%. Last Tuesday, voter malaise was apparent here: The primary contest drew roughly 28% of the voters who turned out for the general election in 2008.
“The jobless are the new swing voters,” says Rick Sloan, acting executive director of UCubed, a community service project of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “You can talk about deficit reduction, health-care reform—you can talk about all those things but you’re talking past the jobless voters.”
Unemployment in the individual congressional districts “is the leading factor in determining the November elections,” says Mark Gersh, one of the Democrats’ top voting analysts. “The hope of the administration is it’s trending down when the elections are held, but they’re running out of time.”
Hat tip to Hot Air for the second link.
These two stories are related for both parties I’d say.