Demographics & Elections

Image“Demographics” is the new buzz word following the 2012 US presidential election. Obama won the election by targeting specific demographics in key states:

  • African-Americans Obama +86%
  • Latinos Obama +44%
  • Liberals Obama +74%

There are calls for the Republicans to reform, and appeal more to single women and Latinos. Dr Manny Alvarez has an interesting open letter to his party (the Republicans) and many are batting about Marco Rubio (of Cuban heritage) as a best bet for the Repub.s in 2016.  I have also suggested Mia Love, who lost her election during this race, but I think would still be a good option for the VP ticket.

“My dear fellow Republicans we need to go back to basics.  The result of the election yesterday, at least for me, was a wake-up call…There is no way to avoid dealing with the fact that 16 percent of the American population, which represents over 50 million people, are of Latino descent.  I can tell you as a Latino myself, we may love our salsa music and our spicy food, but many of us desire the same things that all immigrants who have come to this country also wanted – a strong work force, a good education for our children and a place to take our sick.”

Obama out-spent Romney 2-1 in Spanish-language ads.

But a cautionary modification.  It can be a mistake to define people electorally based simply on their demographic.  The “Jewish vote” for example went to Obama, when with the foreign policy controversies with Netanyahu and Israel, one might have expected a higher Republican vote (Romney visited Israel early on).  However, “Jewish voters” are largely also New Yorkers (a Democrat town, Hilary Clinton’s) and liberal.  They vote on a variety of factors.  Do they cast a vote as “Jewish,” “New Yorker,” or “Liberal.” The same applies to Latinos as Alvarez points out. Pollsters and political hacks are mistaken to obsess on simplistic “demographics.”

“I think that if the Republican Party wants to change, the way that we transmit our message has to be fundamentally recalculated. You literally have to go out and identify with the real problems of many Latino families.  You have to alter their perceptions. And whenever possible, you have to execute solutions, which have measurable outcomes to them – and then follow it up…”

However, defining these groups and understanding what issues and policies motivate them, is a key to winning.  Obama did this better than the Republicans.  It is clear he won the election on racial demographics too, Africa-American voters overwhelmingly supported Obama simply because of who he is, to a large extent Latinos too. He is a symbol for these minority communities and that may override anything specific on policy or even the economy. They are voting on aspiration, history and deep sentiments related to their history, ethnicity and the America they want tomorrow. Having “one of them” in the W.House is powerful regardless of how good or bad he is or turns out to be.

But I agree with Charles Krauthammer who says it is a mistake for the Republicans to swing too far in flagellating themselves over 2012 and morphing themselves to fit demographic predictions for 2016.  While I think it would be wise to consider ethnic candidates (for a change) that better connect with chunks of the electorate by nature; ideology, party branding and policy is equally important.

Just because the Repub.s might select a Latino for the ticket in 2016 doesn’t mean they win.  The candidate has to be articulate, likeable, a good communicator, with no skeletons in his/her closet, warm, and able to campaign the course with energy, personality and money (ie they need to be rich).  This is a whole bundle of attributes necessary in a winnable candidate. Ethnicity is only one chocolate in the box and elections are not simply won targeting demographics.

About coNZervative

A blog about politics, life, culture, literature, music and thought from Christchurch, New Zealand [NZ] (the home of 10,000 earthquakes since 4 Sept. 2010) built because of the bullying and cajoling of Liberal opinion-makers (journalism and Hollywood) against conservative-minded people who are as entitled to opinion and a perspective as anyone; and because Conservativism has served the world well. John Stringer is a New Zealander (Christchurch) in his 50s married to an American from Taco Bell; they have 5 adult children in 3 diff. countries. John is an ex-Anglican pastor, a teacher, published author (NZ), novelist (USA) and cartoonist (Aust, NZ), and has spent the last 25 years in NZ politics with the National party (he was a parliamentary candidate in 1999). There was a stint in London working for the British Conservative party as well, where he did media minding and campaign work with several Brit cabinet ministers, including Baroness Thatcher, Baroness Blatch, Michael Howard, Tom King, among others. He has an MA (classical studies, Victoria); is a graduate of the New York Film Academy; and has various awards for writing. His passions include British bulldogs, fly fishing, and history (Ancient and WWII). Winston Churchill was mainly a “Conservative” but also a “Liberal” MP between 1900-1964. A Member of Parliament for 64 years, he contested 21 parliamentary elections (for Oldham, Manchester North West, Dundee, and Epping/Woodford). Throughout his career Churchill stood for liberty. He believed in open debate and freedom of speech, and opposed any system or ideology that tried to dictate the way one should think. Churchill felt deeply that disagreements within the democratic system should not degenerate into personal animosities. RIDER: This site is not connected to nzconservative, a Catholic site, or NZ Conservative Party, although from time-to-time I share some of the views espoused by both groups and other sites I follow, as published; I am an independent thinker and blogger.
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