Saturday, November 10, 2012

Is the Emerging Democratic Majority Now Emerging?

     I think we now know who the joke is pace Joe Scarborough. He had lashed out at Nate Silver, the week before the election, telling him that anyone who claimed that the Presidential race was anything other than a tossup was a joke.

    Right. I mean Nate only called 49 out of 50 states correctly during 2008, whereas look at the great record that Scarborough and his fellow pundits achieved in 2008: 50%, that is to say, a coin flip.

    Of course, Nate outdid himself this year. With Florida finally being called for Obama, he if 50 for 50 this year.

     However, as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo points out, the big Dem gains this year-both Obama and the Senate-was anticipated way back in 2002 by Ruy Teixara's "The Emerging Democratic Majority."

     "But that’s what Ruy Teixeira did. Since 2002, when Democrats were at a low point and sinking lower, Teixeira has consistently argued that long-term demographic trends pointed to brighter days ahead for the party. He and John Judis published a book that year, “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” that envisioned a governing majority in the next decade consisting of three rapidly growing voting blocs — women, minorities, and professionals."
      "Along with young voters, these three groups are credited with powering Obama’s 2008 and 2012 victories. Latinos were critical in contests across the country on Tuesday, especially in Western states like New Mexico (no longer even a swing state), Nevada, and Colorado. African American turnout helped put Obama over the top in states like Ohio. Huge advantages with women helped secure states like Iowa (28% gender gap). And a growing professional class in Virginia and North Carolina — solid red states when Teixeira published his book — put the former in Obama’s camp for a second straight election and kept the latter competitive until the end."

      "It’s easy to forget now, but after President Bush won re-election in 2004, there was a popular school of thought that America was entering an extended period in which Republicans would hold an unshakable majority. Karl Rove claimed the results as a “realignment” in which evangelical and suburban turnout would destroy the Democrats’ viability as a national party. Other observers like Michael Barone backed him up. Perhaps not coincidentally, both of them predicted a Romney landslide last week."

      Ari Berman has actually made similar predictions. Historically there have been different long term majorities. As Texiera says no majority lasts forever.

      "But it’s all very dependent on how Republicans respond to this. If that party moves back towards the center in some meaningful way over time — which they show some signs of doing now — if the electoral vote stays against them long enough, eventually the forces in the party that see it as a problem will prevail. But that could take years. I think permanence isnt the issue so much as how long is a long time. Five years? Eight years? 20 years? I certainly think for this decade it looks like Democrats could have a continuing advantage because it’s likely to take the GOP awhile to right itself in the sense of getting more sensible on politics. And even when they develop the desire to do so, it takes time to implement it credibly and thus win constituents over. That sounds more like an eight-year project than a two- year one, but that’s just a guess."

      "Also, as the GOP looks for an answer, the same changes that have disadvantaged them over time are going to continue. It’s a moving target, a problem that is growing larger not smaller. For all these reasons I suspect the Democrats, while they will not win every election in the next 10 years, will have some sort of significant advantage from demographic shifts. "

      While it might seem that it's difficult to achieve a truly long term majority, in American history it's much more common than you might think if you are only considering recent history. Teixera's title itself is actually a play on Kevin Phillips' 1969 book-"The Emerging Republican Majority."

       Phillips' basic premise proved correct-that the GOP was poised to end the Democrats' long term New Deal Coalition. From 1932-1968 the Dems had controlled the White House and both Houses of Congress 28 out of 36 years. Phillips who was not surprisingly near and dear to Nixon's heart as it jibed with his plan for his New Majority. The idea was that the GOP would come back to power via the Social Issue. The trick was they had to neutralize the Dems' ace in the hole: the Economic Issue.

      Starting with Nixon's win in 1968, the Republicans would take 5 of the next 6 elections, the last 4 of these wins were with at least 41 states and 437 electoral votes.

      However, there are two qualifiers. First, interestingly enough, Phillips begun to sour on his own brainchild. By 1979 he already was not so happy with where the GOP was going. He was not such a big fan of Reagan's and starting in 1988 begun writing books that sounded quite liberal with a concern about economic inequality and the fact that the average guy was now seeing his income go flat.

       The other is the GOP never achieved dominance when you factor in Congress. The Dems continued to dominate Congress through the 70s and 80s-to an extent, of course, this was mitigated by the fact that a good part of the Dem majority was made up of Southern Blue Dog Democrats- until Gingrich in 1994. By then the Dems had taken back the White House.

       What we actually have seen then over the long haul since 1968 is parity. The parties have switched their areas of domination but not the overall partisan balance of the government as a whole. Yet this is the exception not the rule throughout U.S. history.

       Most of U.S. history has seen dominance by one party or the other. From 1800 t0 1860 the Democrats dominated through both the Jefferson and Andrew Jackson eras.

       What we have seen since is in some sense all about sin and punishment. The Dems got slavery wrong and were on the wrong side of industrialization-though mostly the Southern part of the Democrats; throughout most of their history there in fact were two Democratic parties: the Southern Democratic party and the Northern Democratic party.

        So they were in the Wilderness for 72 years-for the Civil War. In that time the GOP had all three Houses 56 out of 72 years. Then the Republicans were on the wrong side on the Depression. They suffered the next 36 years.

        So there's nothing unusual about one party being the dominant one for many decades-though many think this is a bad thing for a democracy.

        How do things look for the Dems now? They seem pretty favorable. As Texieria showed, the party's base is now African Americans and Latinos, but also the youth vote, college educated women, and professionals more generally.

        As Scott Sumner puts it, the Democratic base is now minorities along with "pragmatic" whites. I think that's a good way of putting it. I think it's fair to also say that white people themselves are getting better-as a country we are.

        While the old white guys vote against Obama largely on bigotry, among young whites, Obama actually split.

        The GOP's future will be dictated to the extent that they are not slow learners. Ie, it doesn't look to bright right now.



  1. The RICH ....absolutely.... need MORE tax cuts!
    A few free cases of Absolut might ALSO be in order ease the pain of all this constant bickering and criticism.
    There REALLY seems to be some confusion here, ....a lack of clarity.

    Perhaps I need to explain "TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS" again?
After all, it's things like this that keep Economics Professors like me in business! 

    No problem. Except that I am without my graphs and charts. But here goes, anyway:
Basically , there are two parts to this ancient , time-tested theory. 
    I’m sorry .....did I call this fact of life, this universal constant, this eternal truth..a MERE “theory”?
    My mistake. It is much MORE than a theory. It is simply ..the way things are,
    ...the way things always will be, ...the way things MUST be! Ah, Economics is beautiful, isn’t it?
    Well, to get on: T he FIRST part of tickle-down economics is the "TRICK"-le part. 
    If we are going to make any progress, you must realize, you must understand, 
    that this IS all a trick. An elaborate trick , yes, but still a trick.

    A trick ...where the super-rich are the "trick-sters",  and you, my poor friends,
    you are the "trick-ees". Do I make myself clear? Good, then we'll go on to the second part.
The SECOND part, dear students of the world, is the crucial "Trickle-DOWN" phase. 
    That, my friends, simply means that the super-rich get to URINATE all over the rest of us
...and then laugh ...all the way to their off-shore banks and tax-shelters.

    I hope that I have been helpful. Until next time.
- Professor America
P.S. In other words, my gullible little friends, the bottom line is this:
    the ONLY acceptable looters in life are the super-rich.
    Anybody else .... is subject to arrest, or worse.
    Got that? Good, you’ll work out just fine.... And my apologies for this tedious, long-winded
    explanation of the way that things really work, but after all - I AM an Economics Professor.

  2. Here here! I agree and certainly am honored to have an economics professor check in. This is the most exciting thing since Nick Rowe left is last comment. Please come again often.