The Republican party has historically won victory by appealing to white voters and men in particular, what’s been known as the “Southern strategy” since Nixon. As the racial makeup of the United states becomes more diverse this means trouble for the traditional Republican party and Tuesday’s election demonstrates that.
In some ways the Republican party most Americans think they know hasn’t existed for decades. Many Americans think that if you’re concerned about your money the Republican party is the one to choose. History shows that unless one is very wealthy that hasn’t been the case for a very long time. Princeton university professor Larry Bartels studied the economy under Republican and Democrat administrations and found that under Republican administrations, and allowing a one-year lag to provide for time for policies to have effect, unemployment has increased, while gross national product and inflation have decreased. The opposite has occurred under Democratic control of the White House.
“The tax policy of Republican administrations tends to favor the wealthy segments of society through policies such as tax cuts that mostly favor the rich and businesses, and repeal of the estate tax, which only applies to multi-millionaires,” Bartels said. “Democratic policy follows more egalitarian values, utilizing redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation to decrease inequality.” “In fact, there are significant data that show a pattern between Republican administrations and slow income growth across the board, and among the poor especially. On the other hand, the data suggest that, under Democratic administrations, inequality temporarily decreases, while more robust income growth is seen overall, and is especially concentrated in the middle- and lower-classes.”
We see this voter reliance on old party stereotypes as well when it comes to growing the size of government. The Republicans claim to oppose big government and that Democrats will increase the size of government, In fact more recent history shows the opposite to be true. Private sector job creation under President Obama has far exceeded private sector job creation under President Bush. 40 months into his presidential term, there are currently more private sector jobs in the economy than when Obama came into office. At the same point in President Bush’s term, the total number of private sector jobs was still down 1.7 percent from where it began. Under Obama government employment. is now down 608,000 workers since January 2009, a 2.7 percent decline. At the same point in President Bush’s term, government employment was up 3.7 percent. If, over the past 40 months, government employment had grown at the same pace as it did in President Bush’s first term, there would be 1.4 million additional people at work right now. That’d be enough to bring the unemployment rate down by nearly a full percentage point.
When Clinton was in office the top tax rate was 39.6% and 20.8 million private sector jobs were created. Under Bush the top tax rate was lowered to 35% and 663,000 private sector jobs were lost. When Clinton left office there was a $236 billion surplus. When Bush left office there was a 1.2 trillion deficit. Now, Republicans retort that since Obama took office the debt has risen by close to 6 trillion. But how much of that was because of policies passed by Obama and how much was caused by the ﬁnancial crisis and the continuation of Bush policies? When we look at policies. and the cost of legislation passed by Obama and Bush the cost of ongoing Bush policies from 2001-2009 is 5.1 trillion and the cost of Obama policies is 983 billion Obama inherited most of his deficit from Bush.
The Republican party now marches to the tune of the Tea Party. Their platform calls for a wide variety of often far right social conservative policies such as banning gay marriage, opposing abortion in all cases including rape and incest, minimizing access to birth control, and discouraging minority immigration and paths to citizenship in the U.S., and downscaling or elimination of programs helping the poor. Romney declared himself a “severe conservative” and signed onto these social conservative policies in order to win the primaries. Although he recanted many of them in the first debate the public wasn’t convinced it was a real change of heart. Part of the Republican election strategy focused making white voters resentful enough to get to the polls by portraying minorities as dependent on the government and happy to be that way.
By looking at changing U.S. demographics we can see that approach isn’t going to work anymore. The percentage of the electorate that is white was 88% during Regan’s presidency, 74% in 2008 and 72% in 2012. Historically the Republican party has won by getting a large share of the white vote but this time around although they got 61% of the white vote it wasn’t enough to win. 71% of Latinos, 73% of Asians, and 93% of blacks voted Democrat. In addition Democrats got 54% of the female vote which makes up 52% of the electorate. Obama got 60% of the 18-29 year old vote compared to Romney’s 36%. 10 of 13 GOP senate candidates that opposed abortion in all situations including rape and incest. were defeated. Young people and women tend more liberal, favoring gay marriage, access to birth control and abortion, minorities tend to make up more of the lower income portion of the populace and all of these constituencies have been voting primarily democratic for a long time.
What most analysts take away from this election is that as long as the Republican party chooses policies favored mainly by rich old white men its chances in future elections are rapidly diminishing. If it doesn’t move to the center it is going to become a fringe party. Moderates in the party recognize this and are calling for outreach to women and minorities. Surprisingly many tea party candidates and prominent conservative spokespeople reject this idea claiming that they lost the election because Romney wasn’t conservative enough. They are blind to the fact that Romney never made any gains in the polls until after the first debate when he recanted most of the social conservative positions he had taken during the primaries. A civil war is brewing in the Republican party as those who see the party must change to win fight for control with the social conservatives who want to retain far right policies at all costs. After the 2010 elections Republicans promised “We’re going to have a relentless focus on jobs.” In the following two years they didn’t forward a single jobs proposal instead preferring to take 55 votes on anti-women policies. The Republican party is going to change and move to the center or its going to fade into irrelevancy. Either way, the Republican party as we’ve known it is going to disappear.