Two Tales of Changing Demographics

June 12, 2014 9:00 am

by Jon Richards · 69 comments

Two news stories this week illustrate how changes in voter demographics are rapidly changing Georgia’s political landscape.

The first story is from the UK’s Guardian, and talks about white and minority voting habits, and how they affect the Senate race:

Half a century after the civil rights movement began nudging much of the south into the grasp of the Republican party, politics in Georgia remain a black and white issue.

Republicans candidates get as much as 80% of the white vote. Democrats receive upwards of 90% of African American support. That colour divide has, since the early 1990s, enabled Republicans to dominate elections in the predominantly white state.

Yet come November, when either [Jack] Kingston, a congressman, or another Republican contender, businessman David Perdue, stands for election, they will find themselves going up against a demographic shift that is upending old political certainties.

Although the article begins in Buckhead’s mostly white Tommy’s Barbershop, it quickly moves to Michelle Nunn’s midtown campagn headquarters, and eventually to Clayton County, where, “In the 10 years leading up to 2010, the number of white people living in the county dropped by 41,000. During the same period, the African American population grew by 50,000, and today African Americans are more than 66% of the county’s residents. The Hispanic population doubled.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press takes a look at how Georgia Republicans are trying to reach out to minorities, recruiting voters and candidates:

As the minority engagement director for the Georgia Republican Party, [Leo] Smith is helping to lead an effort to recruit African-American voters in pivotal states, a priority for a heavily white party staring with uncertainty at a country that is fast becoming more black, Hispanic and Asian.

Black Republicans cringe when they hear vitriol from conservatives directed at President Barack Obama, or negative comments about black people coming from extremists. The challenge is to assure blacks who may lean conservative that they can publicly identify with the GOP without hurting their standing in the black community.

The GOP is caught in somewhat of a chicken-and-egg situation here. As one African-American Republican told me, minorities are not going to vote Republican until they see people who look like them holding elected office. Yet, as the recent primaries showed, when candidates like Ashley Bell and Fitz Johnson run on the GOP ticket, they can’t get past the primaries.

African Americans are not the only ones the GOP needs to reach out to. Nowhere else is this clearer than in Gwinnett County. According to census estimates, in 2012, the county was 42% white, 25% black, 20% Hispanic and 11% Asian. In the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney took 54% of the vote. Ten years ago, the Bush-Cheney presidential ticket received 66% of the Gwinnett vote.

Speaking to the Gwinnett GOP last Saturday, Congressman Rob Woodall offered a succinct challenge to attendees.

“I have never seen a time in my lifetime when all the folks who run all the campaigns and do all the party policy statements have been watching Gwinnett County they way they’re watching it right now. Because we look in Gwinnett County today the way America’s going to look in 15 years…

We are the testbed. We look today the way every other district in the country is going to look. We have to win elections today that the entire Presidential staff is going to have to win in 15 years. We are planting the seeds today that 300 million Americans are going to benefit from. It matters.”

Is the GOP destined to become a rump party of mostly white Southerners, or does it figure out an answer to Woodall’s challenge to maintain Republican control in an ever more diverse county, state and country?

The results of the 2014 elections will go a long way towards answering that question.

ryanhawk June 12, 2014 at 9:50 am

The GOP is already a rump party of mostly white Southerners. The question is if we are content with that status and if not, what we can do about it.

Both symbolic and substantive representatoin of minorities are an important part of the party’s attempt to broaden the tent. As a matter of substance we can emphasize issues that resonate in minority communities (i.e. what Nathan Deal is doing sentencing reforms) while symbolically we can should recruit and support qualified minorities in races they have a good shot at winning.

Melvin Emerson should have been better supported in his run for labor commissioner. Ashley Bell should NOT have been encouraged to enter a clown car election for an office that he wasn’t really well suited for. Fitz Johnson should be strongly encouraged to run for office again and build on his first experience running for office.

Conservative minorities in elected office should be recruited HARD to switch parties and/or appointed to high profile positions for which they are well qualified (board of regents etc…). Offices like state labor commissioner, health insurance commissioner, and ag commissioner should be made appointed positions and minorities should be strongly considered for these positions. If you want to quickly raise the profile of minorities in the Georgia GOP, this is the way to do it.

ieee June 12, 2014 at 9:55 am

The GOP is nanny big government. They can get enough government, enough laws, or enough control. If they can’t cure themselves of their need to harass other people, they will continue to be dead to minorities. Minorities don’t like the GOP police state.

Mr. Brown Conservative June 12, 2014 at 10:05 am

Great write-up as always! I would however say that we are headed in the right direction in Georgia (at least for the most part). I see both Senate candidates and Governor Deal making a conscious effort to engage ethnic minorities in Georgia!

Chet Martin June 12, 2014 at 10:05 am

Reports of Republican death have been greatly exaggerated. The gravity of American politics demands two viable parties- one day soon the Republican party will change. Beyond needed concessions on gay rights and perhaps immigration, the change will be rhetorical.

George Chidi June 12, 2014 at 10:23 am

Good piece.

Romney won 55 percent of Gwinnett because newer residents in Gwinnett aren’t particularly politically active. Half the Latino population are non-citizens, as are smaller numbers within the black and Asian community.

The other thing that’s kept Gwinnett Republican, though, is that county government hasn’t managed to do something aggressively stupid to rile up progressive or nonwhite voters there. The schools are well run. No racial profiling or corruption problem has broken through to the public from the police. Taxes are low.

A couple of commissioners have gone to jail for corruption, and Gwinnett remains the county of the shady land deal. Traffic is a nightmare … and that could be the problem that kicks the county over. But the donuts are getting made. For most, life goes on.

Gwinnett is a county with lots of Republicans — including some of the ideologues we all love to hate — but I hesitate to call it a Republican county. The people running Gwinnett for the last 10 or 15 years or so, by and large, have been technocratic business folks who could give a rat’s ass about party politics. Republicans by default, I suppose. If the county ever really politicizes, Republicans will lose it.

Jane June 12, 2014 at 10:38 am

In the 80’s, White Republicans immigrated to the Southeast from heavily Republican Mid-west and Northern suburbs. After 20 years the GOP took over the state. In the last ten years, Black Democrats have immigrated in large numbers from the Mid-west and in some cases from New Orleans. This change will force both parties to appeal to non-native voters who are not exactly like the White and Black southerns in their issues and their concerns. White Mid-western voters like myself are very comfortable with the Republican Party. Time will tell if Black Northern will be equally comfortable with the politics of the Southern Democrat party. My guess is that the Democrat party will change a little, but the polarization will remain.

As to Black Republicans not doing well. In 2008, in the General primary, Black Republican Melvin Everson received more White votes for Labor Commission than the number of White Democrats who voted in the 2008 Democrat general primary.

Salmo June 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I think Melvin’s problem was that he has a funny-sounding name that fell second on the ballot to Mark Butler. The folks who knew him and had heard him speak overwhelmingly voted for him. I just don’t think there was enough name ID in the race for him to overcome the “I’ll vote for the guy with the more normal sounding name at the top of the ballot” hurdle.

Now, there’s certainly an argument to be made that the GOP should have been involved to help him get over said hurdle, but that’s not how the GOP traditionally operates.

Jon Richards June 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Salmo, while I agree with your theory about Everson’s name, I need to point out that in his home county, Everson lost to Butler by a 60%-40% margin, despite having been a Snellville city councilman and a State Representative.

And of course, the GAGOP is limited in the help it can offer a candidate in a contested primary.

Harry June 12, 2014 at 7:31 pm

It’s a tragedy that Melvin didn’t win that primary. He was the most qualified with the least baggage.

Ken June 13, 2014 at 11:23 am

Jon, you’re absolutely right. In addition, a down ballot race with little name recognition can be affected by the smallest things, such as the robo-calls made by Butler’s campaign and Butler did have some yard signs scattered across Middle and South Georgia, an area where Melvin should have done better. Melvin is a Wilcox County native.

And we Republicans did not elect the best man in that primary. Melvin Everson deserved a better fate based on his character and his accomplishments.

jiminga June 12, 2014 at 11:02 am

The GA political landscape can be summarized by looking back to Franklin and Tyler’s similar statements from long ago:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.”

GA’s demographics show the workers shrinking and the takers growing. See above.

George Chidi June 12, 2014 at 11:52 am

This rhetoric, describing people who work hard for the kind of crap wages at jobs that once provided a middle class income and now make them eligible for government support as “takers” … this. THIS. THIS. This is what will drive people out of your ranks.

Please, by all means. Keep it up. We’re counting on it.

Will Durant June 12, 2014 at 4:40 pm

I live in Gwinnett with neighbors on each side of me that are considered minorities in the Census. Each family consists of working couples with kids. If these are the “takers” you envision with the changing demographics I say bring ‘em on.

MattMD June 12, 2014 at 7:55 pm

You are full of crap. Tell me how you can just refuse to work and be able to live in this state.

That is the dumbest post I’ve read on PP in a long while.

Max Power June 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Also the quote is complete BS.

John Konop June 12, 2014 at 11:27 am

Great post Jon…..Below is the attitude that will make reaching out to the under 40 crowd as well minorities for the GOP very hard. Must of my friends who are in the GOP would find this crazy….The problem is the lack of party members calling out this spewing…..Much of this right out of the Phil Kent school of politics….

………Scott Esk, a Republican Tea Party candidate in Oklahoma, got into a debate on Facebook last summer in which he advocated killing homosexuals.

“I think we would be totally in the right to do it,” Esk wrote in comments uncovered by Oklahoma journalist Rob Morris. “That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”

When pressed, Esk added: “I never said I would author legislation to put homosexuals to death, but I didn’t have a problem with it.”

Esk is running for the state’s House of Representatives. The primary is scheduled for June 24.

When contacted by Morris, who runs the news outlet Moore Daily, Esk didn’t deny making the comments or back down from the rhetoric.

“That was done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God and in that time there it was totally just. It came directly from God,” Esk said, adding: “I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law. I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins.”

The Raw Story notes that in other Facebook posts, Esk has said that laws punishing gays should be instituted locally so people “can decide for themselves whether they want to live in a particular community based in part on how things like this are dealt with.”

The comments have quickly gone viral, drawing attention to other parts of his platform… and those views aren’t any less extreme.

Esk wants to “punish abortionists severely for their committing of murder” and punish federal bureaucrats who try to enact the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In addition, he’s against all forms of gun licenses, wants to cut education funding “which I don’t consider a proper function of government” and believes “the EPA, FDA, OSHA, etc.” “have no legitimate reason for existing, since they’re unConstitutional.”

Esk wants to make divorce more difficult as well. He’s calling for jury trials for divorce cases and an end to no-fault proceedings.

“I also don’t buy into the notion that it’s unfair to make somebody stay in a marriage he’s unhappy with,” Esk wrote.

Esk was married for 15 years until “frivolous divorce raised its ugly head in the Esk home,” he notes on his campaign website. (You can see him speak more about divorce in the video below.)

Esk’s Facebook page contains other stunners, including a December 2013 post written shortly after Nelson Mandela’s death in which he called the former South African president a “communist thug” and a “low-life.”

And in November 2013, he wrote of calling 911 to report “a large group of Mexicans” gathered at an Oklahoma City mall geared toward Latino shoppers because he “suspected that many of them were guilty of being here illegally.”

His long rant notes that police didn’t respond to his emergency call.

Esk was a computer programmer in the state’s Department of Public Safety, but has “since gravitated toward courier work.” He also owns a window-washing business.

“I look forward to applying Biblical principles to Oklahoma law,” Esk writes on his website……

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/11/scott-esk-stoning-gays_n_5486678.html

Jon Richards June 12, 2014 at 2:36 pm

That’s just one of the more egregious examples of why the GOP is scaring away people. The real problem is that the press picks up on this nutcase’s rants and makes it sound like this is mainstream GOP thinking.

The GOP is going to need to be a big tent party in order to survive. But, that’s a post for another day.

griftdrift June 12, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Blaming the press is getting thin.

Jon Richards June 12, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Point well taken. Candidates and elected officials need to know they and their party will be judged by what they say, and should assume there is always a tracker present to record their statements.

The Last Democrat in Georgia June 12, 2014 at 4:03 pm

But what do you do when a candidate could care less what the mainstream media will think of their statements?

When a conservative politician like Scott Esk makes statements about punishing and killing homosexuals and abortionists, severely-cutting the size of government, making divorce much more difficult and applying Biblical principles to state governance, he doesn’t care what the mainstream media in the Northeast and on the coasts may think about what he truly feels. A guy like Scott Esk only cares about what many of the local voters in his extremely-conservative statehouse district in Oklahoma (of the most-conservative states in the union) may think.

Esk’s comments may make him evil to media elitists, but to many of the voters in his district, his comments make him a hero and maybe even a martyr in the ongoing culture wars.

Chris Huttman June 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Simple you say: this is wrong and the people who believe this are wrong and we don’t want their votes.

Unfortunately, many in the Republican party leadership cannot do this.

John Konop June 12, 2014 at 4:27 pm

This was the same conversation the Bill Clinton side of the Dem party had with the Jessie Jackson side………Remember the famous “sister soldier” moment….You are right about what candidates may say in a district…..The establishment of the party must be clear they do not support it. Also gerrymandering has put the problem on steroids….

MattMD June 12, 2014 at 8:08 pm

I’m not in the business in calling people “evil” but the vast majority of people in this country would think he is a nut job. It’s not just the “media elites”, I’m sure the Midwestern/TX/OK media would have an issue with those type of statements.

How do you know what the voters in his district think? There is a distinct difference between being against the “homosexual lifestyle” and not having a problem with them being murdered. I doubt that most voters in his district believe that homosexuals should be killed.

The Last Democrat in Georgia June 12, 2014 at 10:46 pm

One would sincerely hope that the voters in the OK state house district that Scott Esk is running for office in would strongly-disagree with his views that homosexuals should be punished and executed.

But one must also has to understand that the state in which Esk is running for office is a deeply-conservative state where the fundamentalist form of Christianity is much more predominant than even in a deeply-conservative state like Georgia.

…In other words, Oklahoma makes Georgia look like California when it comes to conservative culture.

In Georgia (particularly in the expansive Atlanta suburbs), many people just like to call themselves “Conservative” because it is currently the hot-and-trendy thing to say around family and friends and when in public. But in Oklahoma, many people who call themselves “Conservative” really ARE Conservative with a capital “C”….One really has to understand that Scott Esk’s way of thinking is not necessarily all that uncommon in a strongly fundamentalist Christian state like Oklahoma.

John Konop June 13, 2014 at 6:30 am

In all due respect what is conservative? One of the fathers of the movement Barry Godwater warned the GOP about social conservative politics…Goldwater was big on individual rights over the state….Is he conservative? William F Buckley was against the Iraq war and for legalizing drugs, another major player in the conservative movement……Is he conservative? President Reagan stood up for gay rights in California while governor….Is he conservative? President Eisenhower warned against out of control military spending….Is he conservative?

The Last Democrat in Georgia June 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Those are excellent points, Mr. Konop.

Though there’s no question that all of the guys you mentioned (Goldwater, Buckley, Reagan, Eisenhower) were Conservative in different ways, the term Conservative still means different things to different people as we frequently see in these ongoing political, cultural and social battles.

Strangely enough, I don’t necessarily consider myself to be “Conservative”. People call me Conservative because I talk about privatizing government functions and I am a really hard core defender of Second Amendment rights, but I don’t really consider myself to be or even like to call myself Conservative because it almost seems that the term has become somewhat clichéd….A word to beat one’s chest with when out in public (“I’m the most conservative, blah, blah, blah…No, I’m the most conservative”).

Many people who are actually very-liberal socially may like to call themselves Conservative just because its something that one says out in public and around family and friends in red states like Georgia (…In blue states like NY, IL, CA, MA, etc, the popular, hot-and-trendy and cliched thing to say out in public is that one is “progressive”, even if one may actually be very-conservative socially).

In the case of misguided souls like a Scott Esk, I guess that the word “Conservative” means that one is a hardcore Social Conservative (…in other words so that Peach Pundit readers can relate, Scott Esk makes PP’s own Harry (who gets flak around here for being “too conservative”) look like Al Sharpton by comparison).

George Chidi June 13, 2014 at 10:56 am

Esk, as I understand it, is in a five-way primary. I think it highly unlikely that he’s the leading candidate. But he’s great at getting media attention.

Chet Martin June 13, 2014 at 8:13 pm

And it is a byproduct of a very old conservative tactic- railing against that same media. I’m not denying that non-Fox or WSJ media has a liberal bias, but that it is reasonable for mainstream media to trumpet the worst frothings of a flyover country conservative after two generations of right-wing politicians and pundits grew rich knocking the stuffing out of their credibility.

As Jon Stuart memorably said, the conservative media can act as an auto-immune disease, ripping apart the body in an effort to eradicate a liberal pathogen. It ain’t worth it.

MattMD June 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Part of the Republican tent is the American Taliban wing. They should be thrown out.

Jon Richards June 12, 2014 at 11:13 pm

So here we go. This story compares David Brat, the Tea Party winner over Eric Cantor to Scott Esk.

When Sam Moore introduced his out of touch legislation, the GOP caucus was quick to react because they realized that Moore’s bill could label all of them as reactionaries. I really hope the GOP in Oklahoma and DC will do the same thing.

xdog June 13, 2014 at 8:18 am

Jon:

1–Can’t you find a US paper to cite?

2–I missed the ‘comparison’ except as the story mentioned both men feel they are especially informed of God.

3–The same caucus that was so quick to curb-stomp Moore was perfectly willing to pass Jim Crow for gays as long as they could frame it as preserving religious freedom.

4–Brat is quoted: “The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling and homosexuality.” Isn’t that the real problem?

The Last Democrat in Georgia June 12, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Good column, Mr. Richards.

With racial and ethnic minorities currently making up nearly 60% of the population of a Republican stronghold like Gwinnett County, 45% of a Republican stronghold like Cobb County and 45% of the state’s population, it’s obvious that Georgia’s demographics appear to be rapidly changing the state’s population in favor of the Democrats.

Whether the state’s rapidly-changing demographics will be enough to actually make Democrats consistently more competitive anytime soon in a statewide political scene that continues to be completely-dominated by Republicans remains to be seen.

As Alan Abramowitz and many other political analysts warn in the Guardian article linked to in the column, 2014 may be one election cycle too soon for Democrats to benefit from Georgia’s shifting demographics. And even subsequent election cycles like 2016 and 2018 may likely be too soon for Democrats to benefit from Georgia’s shifting demographics if Hillary Clinton does not make a successful run for the White House in ’16.

Three Jack June 12, 2014 at 2:39 pm

“…minorities are not going to vote Republican until they see people who look like them holding elected office. ”

If voters in this country decide to utilize gender, skin color and sexual preference as the first and most important factors in deciding who to vote for, we are doomed. The GOP will be making a monumental mistake if they allow the mass media and dems to move them toward demographics instead of issues.

The GOP needs a kick in the ass, but not by a mule demanding demographic based marketing programs instead of principled legislation. The GOP can attract all demographics if it plays within its own set of ideals.

Chris Huttman June 12, 2014 at 4:27 pm

They could start by not abandoning all of their old ideas just because a black guy adopts them.

Three Jack June 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm

You used black guy and adopt in the same sentence, bonus points.

Harry June 12, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Obama isn’t a “black guy” anyway. He’s mixed race or mulatto. It has nothing to do why we really despise him.

Jon Richards June 13, 2014 at 5:33 am

^^ Part of the reason the GOP has difficulty attracting minorities.

Harry June 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

Why?

George Chidi June 13, 2014 at 11:02 am

I am breaking a promise to myself not to respond to Harry’s racially-obtuse commentary. The term mulatto is highly offensive, sir, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” notwithstanding. It has been so for a generation.

Obama is black. He is also white. The term is biracial.

And, yes, this is yet another reason Republicans are having trouble with non-white voters. Because this shouldn’t require explanation to anyone in 2014.

Harry June 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

What’s wrong with mulatto. It means black-white. Biracial can be anything.

George Chidi June 13, 2014 at 11:58 am

Harry. People of mixed ancestry in the United States almost never refer to themselves as mulatto because it’s considered archaic and offensive. Mulatto, from the word mule — a sterile hybrid of a horse and an ass.

No.

I won’t entertain a serious discussion of its merits; it would be like discussing the term oriental or negro or quadroon. You can dismiss this as political correctness, if you like. But since we’re talking about just that — the things Republicans need to do to win black voters — then the “correctness” of your language matters.

Harry June 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm

We need to get over this political correctness. For example, African-American has about as much meaning as Euro-American. I’ll agree that mulatto could be considered offensive in today’s hypersensitive climate and Negro also, but really what’s the problem with these words? Why is Negro more offensive than black, and mulatto more offensive than mixture? We all have slaves and kings in our ancestry. We should take ownership of and pride in whatever people choose to call us. To me it’s a stupid discussion, and I’m not planning to change my terminology just for political correctness.

Lea Thrace June 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm

George,

Give up. He represents that part of the party that has NO desire to actually view others in a positive or non-offensive light. He feels that he has no obligation to treat other human beings in a manner that is not offensive. He wants to be able to call people what he wants to call them and their feelings about that be damned. These are the people that I hope will just fade into the sunset so the GOP can begin to really attract those who are not white, male, and aged.

Harry June 13, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I don’t think my dying off is going to solve the problem.

The Last Democrat in Georgia June 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Lea Thrace, June 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm-

People like Harry are not the problem for the GOP. At the federal level, the GOP’s problem is the continuing hangover from the 2 costly wars and the doubling of the national debt under George W. Bush which led directly to the election of the ultra-liberal Barack Obama. Here in Georgia, the GOP’s problem is the party’s failure to adequately embrace ethics reform beyond a level more than legislation riddled with loopholes as well as the party’s failure to adequately tackle issues like transportation, water and education during their 12 years in power.

The GOP’s demographic issues are just an opportunistic infection of extremely-poor governance at the federal level and here in Georgia. Attempting to scapegoat people like Harry (and Debbie Dooley) for the GOP’s failings will not help the issues that the party is facing but will only make them worse by further alienating the GOP’s base even more than they’ve already been alienated by the GOP’s poor governance.

Harry June 13, 2014 at 6:20 pm
Chet Martin June 13, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Banish “political correctness” from the reasoning. Why not just rely on good old Southern manners? My first name is William, but I’ve gone by Chet my entire life. If you called me William and I asked that you refer to me as Chet, surely you’d be too much of a gentleman to contradict me.

If the words are meaningless to you and meaningful and hurtful to someone else, why would you purposefully cause hurt?

Harry June 13, 2014 at 10:27 pm

You’re being confused with nomenclature the intelligentsia thinks is correct and appropriate, and what the rest of us believe to be correct and appropriate.

Dave Bearse June 13, 2014 at 10:57 am

LDIG, you’ve got your C’s mixed up. Oklahomans voting for Esk are crazy, nor conservative.

Branding metro Atlanta suburban/exurbanites that identify as conservative as wannabes because they’re not wack has limits. It sends the message they’re not wanted. Say it long enough and they’ll get the message.

Dave Bearse June 13, 2014 at 11:19 am

Sorry, wrong location, should have been a response to LDIG’s response to MattMD above.

The Last Democrat in Georgia June 13, 2014 at 1:13 pm

“LDIG, you’ve got your C’s mixed up. Oklahomans voting for Esk are crazy, nor conservative.”

…No disagreement there. I’m just pointing out that the Scott Esk brand of crazy may not necessarily be as rare as many might hope it to be….Because if it was then a guy a like Esk clearly would not have felt comfortable saying and proudly owning up to such views in public during a competitive local/state legislative race in a state that is widely-regarded by many to be one of the most socially-conservative states in the union in Oklahoma.

“Branding metro Atlanta suburban/exurbanites that identify as conservative as wannabes because they’re not wack has limits. It sends the message they’re not wanted. Say it long enough and they’ll get the message.”

I’m personally not saying that moderate suburban voters are not wanted in the GOP. To the contrary, even though politically-moderate and socially-liberal suburban voters may not necessarily always be liked by those on the hard-right flank of the political spectrum, if not just simply because of their dominant numbers, moderate suburban voters are critically-important to the success of a political party like the GOP which fashions itself as a right-of-center governing entity.

Dave Bearse June 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

“If voters in this country decide to utilize gender, skin color and sexual preference as the first and most important factors in deciding who to vote for, we are doomed.”

Not that it’s all a white thing now, but that’s hardly a timely observation since the GOP initiated the strategy of racial appeals to voters over 40 years ago., and has worked it ever since. Took only a half dozen years after enactment of the Civil Rights Act to formulate it.

Then-Nixon adviser Kevin Phillips, described it in 1970:

“From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are.”

The GOP’s embrace of the strategy was clear when St. Ronnie announced his candidacy for President with a 1979 “states rights” speech in Mississippi. It’s only a GOP issue now because it’s become clear the votes are dwindling.

The Last Democrat in Georgia June 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm

” It’s only a GOP issue now because it’s become clear the votes are dwindling.”

…That’s a really good point, Mr. Bearse. Rapidly-changing demographics say that the GOP both here in an increasingly-diverse state like Georgia and nationally cannot continue to win with only the support of white voters.

Chet Martin June 13, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Not to disagree with your main point, but I think it’s worth noting that the strategy didn’t begin with the GOP, in the 70s, or even in the 20th century. Obvious examples like segregationist Democrats and northern Know-Nothings abound, but the fact is that racial appeals (indeed, racist appeals) have always been a core fact of American politics. The most Machiavellian schemings of Richard Nixon or Lee Atwater are nowhere near the most egregious

I know you know this, but it’s important to remind ourselves just how long we’ve had to deal with this

Dave Bearse June 14, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Good point about the long history of racial / ethnic origin appeals.

A distinguishing characteristic of the Southern Strategy is that it wasn’t aimed at newcomers that haven’t much yet assimilated as Americans, but at Americans that had been here for over 100 years (or 350 years, if you set aside they were largely property prior to the War of Northern Aggression).

George Chidi June 13, 2014 at 11:42 am

Black voters aren’t interested in voting for black conservatives as a category. They want to vote for policies that are viewed as beneficial to their personal interests and those of society.

Just like white people.

Why this remains a mystery on the right is a mystery to me. “Vote for me, I’m black!” works about as well as “vote for me, I’m white.” There’s an effect at the margins, but not enough to move the electorate. White people who vote for a black conservative because they think black people will be substantially more likely to vote for that black conservative just because he or she is black — this is what racism looks like.

Far be it for me to offer policy advice to Republicans. But I’d rather debate the merits of sane policies from both sides. Republicans need to shut up and listen to black people if they want their votes. Listen. Listen. Craft conservative policy around the stated interests of the black community, rather than telling them what they should think and berating them when they disagree. If you truly believe that conservative policy can meet the needs of the black community, then find out what those needs really are — by listening to black voters — and then acting on their stated interests.

This isn’t rocket science. But it would require consistent, overt steps to connect to a community that white conservatives have largely abandoned.

A message that attacks discrimination in lending and housing and employment as an threat to the conservative values of the free market and upward mobility would be a start. Embrace urban entrepreneurship as a serious policy goal. Find a way to discuss culturally-conservative issues of family structure in a way that doesn’t devolve into some kind of slut-shaming idiocy around welfare babies or a racially-offensive attack on the sexual morality of black men. Reframe drug policy and the justice system in the liberty terminology of reducing the power of the state and increasing freedom — literally. And lose the racially-coded language about “Obama phones” and what not.

And say your doing these things! Make your rejection of the evils of the Southern Strategy overt. Have the uncomfortable conversation about race that black voters have been waiting to hear.

Harry June 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Hey guess what, I agree with you!

George Chidi June 13, 2014 at 1:49 pm

“I’ll agree that mulatto could be considered offensive in today’s hypersensitive climate and Negro also, but really what’s the problem with these words?… To me it’s a stupid discussion, and I’m not planning to change my terminology just for political correctness.”

No, Harry. You do not agree with me.

Harry June 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm

That’s too bad.

Chet Martin June 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Does symbolism have any role in the re-branding?

George Chidi June 15, 2014 at 11:04 am

Very little. That’s the problem I’m seeing. Many Republicans seem to think a little symbolism is a substitute for actual policy. The policies, themselves, must be the symbols.

drjay June 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm

i see your point about not voting for a black conservative just because he’s black, but as a gop, i sure would like my party to look a little more like america and a little less like pleasantville…also, it may be a moot point now, but i remember a piece in 1996 when there was first whispering that colin powell might run for prez that interviewed a middle aged black woman who said something along the lines of the fact that she was not a gop, but she was not sure how she could explain to her grandson if she had a chance to vote for a black man to be president and chose not to…

George Chidi June 16, 2014 at 8:42 pm

The funny thing about voting for the first Black president? You only get to do that trick once. We now, officially, do not give a s–t any more. Black senator? So … what are your politics? Black congressman? So … what do you plan to do in office?

Take Kasim Reed. Suppose he runs for governor in 2018. (I think Carter’s going to win and make that moot, but hear me out.) I honestly think people will have reached a point where Reed will be rejected by downstate Georgians because he’s an Atlanta liberal with Hollywood connections and perceived to be part of an urban machine — same as any mayor of Atlanta. In the places he’d compete — Atlanta and its suburbs — the question will be whether he’s been an effective manager and leader of the region’s issues.

Race will play at the edges, but we’re talking about a guy that nearly lost his inaugural run for the mayor’s seat to Mary Norwood … which is to say, a white woman able to pull black votes … because she was viewed as solid on policy.

Policy. That’s what matters. The “firsts” are over, and overrated.

The Last Democrat in Georgia June 16, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Those are good points, Mr. Chidi.

Though, if (or most likely when) Kasim Reed runs for governor, whether it be 2018 or 2022, I don’t think that Reed plans to appeal heavily to conservative-leaning voters so much as he plans to turnout many more moderate and liberal-leaning voters from the ranks of the state’s growing minority population in the Atlanta suburbs.

Though, I do agree that under most (but not all) circumstances, if Reed runs for statewide office in 2018 as expected, 2018 may potentially be one cycle too soon for a black Atlanta liberal mayor to win statewide office by fostering high turnout amongst a coalition of moderates, liberals and minorities….Just like 2014 may likely be too soon for white Democrats like Nunn and Carter to win statewide office in a state with an electorate that remains decidedly conservative.

drjay June 17, 2014 at 10:42 am

i said in my post that the notion of voting for the first black president is probably a non starter now, but i would still like to see one of these guys get out of a gop primary and see what kind of numbers he generated in a general election, i am to lazy to search out the numbers for folks like tim scott or ryan frazier…

Harry June 12, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Gov. Perry’s position is probably closer than Eck’s to the mainstream majority opinion.
http://www.businessinsider.com/rick-perry-being-gay-like-alcoholism-2014-6

Flowers June 13, 2014 at 1:11 am

Well, as the Af-Am church says.
2014 is only the first run at a changing electorate. Know thy voter.

Harry June 13, 2014 at 1:22 am

May be, but there are other ethnic issues out there besides Georgia ethnic issues.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-crisis-islamist-militants-warn-battle-will-rage-after-seizing-mosul-and-tikrit-9530899.html

http://www.caintv.com/iraq-pm-to-obama-could-we-trou

Looks like Iraq is caught up in an unfriendly divorce. Of course Obama just a few days ago said everything was great.

Harry June 13, 2014 at 1:33 am

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