Monday, January 10, 2011

White Flight

by Ronald Brownstein - January 7th, 2011 - The National Journal

After Election Day, several media outlets released exit-poll data breaking down the contrasting level of support among white and minority voters for Republican and Democratic congressional candidates...

From every angle, the exit-poll results reveal a new color line: a consistent chasm between the attitudes of whites and minorities...

Rodolfo de la Garza, a political scientist at Columbia University who studies Hispanics’ attitudes, says that part of the explanation is that whites found the downturn more psychologically wrenching because more of them (especially white-collar whites) had expected to make a steady ascent up the economic ladder. More minority workers hold marginal positions in the private economy, he says, so they were less likely to be shocked by the severity of the downturn—and more likely to turn to government, rather than the private sector, to help survive it. “They didn’t lose money on Wall Street; they had shitty jobs, if they had jobs, so where would they look to if not the [government]?” de la Garza asked.

Polls have consistently shown that whites, by contrast, have aimed more of their economic frustration at government than at corporations.

My first reaction to the title of this article was that another liberal writer was blaming "whitey" for a racist reaction to Obama. After reading the article, I felt less antipathy. There is a lot of interesting data in the article and it was not nearly as much a knee jerk condemnation of whites as I had expected.

What I find interesting is the differing belief systems that are driving the growing separation in voting for various groups. Democrats have increased their votes among blacks from the 70% in the 1980s to 90% today. That swelled to 95% for Obama's last election and it will be a major issue of interest to see if that level of support returns in 2012. Democrats have lost ground with Hispanics, dropping down to 60% for the election of 2010. Democrats retain much higher levels of support within these two communities than for Asians and whites. Republicans win these two groups with 60% support.

The 2010 elections were a major realignment in people's attitudes towards government. What is being anticipated by Democrats is that historical trends will return in 2012. Whether that happens is the $64,000 question, to use an old metaphor. This article correctly notes that for many Tea Party supporters, the change in voting is more definitive than a single election. “'The significance of the tea party is that it is not a situational vote' (Jeff Bell, American Principles Project), it is likely a permanent change in attitude for many of these voters."

The question is going to be "What happens in the next two years?"

Tea Party activists are still committed to expanding the economic awareness of the failures of socialism and government planned economies to all Americans. They continue their determination to end Democrat (and liberal Republican) reliance on national debt to fund government waste and big government abuses that create acts of tyranny against many of our citizens. The TEA Party movement is continuing to attract new converts. The hysterical denunciation of Sarah Palin is more an indication of the left's fear of her common sense approach to freedom that is incompatible with big government - than a belief that she is as evil as they proclaim.

Still, Democrats will get a resurgence in minority and youth voting in 2012 that should help them recover in some degree from 2010. As noted by David Axelrod in the article, Democrats anticipate that 2012 will be more an election about comparisons between two individuals. For their core electorate, the young, minorities and educated white women, the need remains to smear any Republican candidate so that they are unacceptable based on politically correct issues as they define them.

These two countervailing forces should provide for an interesting two years. I think the left wing smear campaign against Sarah Palin is an indication that "Campaign 2012" has already started.


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