With Latest Polls Showing a Tightening of Scores of Midterm Contests, Republicans Have Failed to Take Into Account the Growing Numbers of Non-White, Heavily Democratic-Leaning Voters While the GOP Is Becoming What the Democrats Were as Recently as the 1950s: An Almost Lily-White, Southern-Dominated Party
(Posted 5:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, October 26, 2010)
By SKEETER SANDERS
For months now, the Republicans and just about every media pundit across the country have been virtually crowing about how the GOP will take over both houses of Congress in next week's midterm elections.
Historically, with the notable exception of the post-9/11 election of 2002 -- when the dominant issue was national security and the "war on terror" -- the party in control of the White House has suffered losses in every midterm congressional election since 1934.
But according to the latest round of pre-election polls, many key races have tightened -- some rather dramatically -- and are now rated too close to call.
It now appears that the Democrats are within striking distance of at least blunting the GOP advance -- if not keeping control of Congress -- which could make for a very long election night next Tuesday.
Powering the Democrats' late surge is a massive get-out-the-vote effort by the party aimed at African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and other non-white voters who are comprising an ever-growing segment of the electorate, as well as by exploiting a growing disgust among moderate voters with an unprecedented multi-million-dollar blitz of highly negative -- and in many cases, outright inflammatory -- TV and radio ads by "independent" groups on behalf of GOP candidates.
President Obama himself has embarked on a cross-country blitz of his own, becoming the "campaigner-in-chief" exhorting the millions of young people who voted for him in 2008 to vote to preserve the Democrats' congressional majority in 2010.
The contests for the House and Senate aren't the only races where there is a last-minute Democratic surge. Several contests for governor are showing the Democratic candidate coming from behind to either surge into the lead or turn the race into a neck-and-neck contest -- and in one state in particular (New York), the Democrat is on track to bury his GOP opponent in an overwhelming landslide.
ADS URGING LATINOS IN NEVADA NOT TO VOTE TRACED TO GOP OPERATIVE
Adding to the late Democratic surge is a backlash by Latinos against what they regard as an anti-Latino assault by Republicans and their conservative allies.
In Nevada, a series of Spanish-language TV and radio ads urging Latinos not to vote in protest of Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform has been met with open derision by Latino community leaders. The ads were paid for by an organization that calls itself "Latinos for Reform" -- which was quickly exposed as being led by Robert de Posada, a conservative pundit and a former Republican Party official.
"Don't vote this November," an announcer on the ad says in Spanish. "This is the only way to send them a clear message. You can no longer take us for granted."
De Posada fiercely defended the ads, insisting that "We're saying to people, you need to look at the record of the candidates and understand that in a civic engagement situation, you have the options of not necessarily voting. You should not be told you have no option but to support the lesser of two evils."
SPANISH-LANGUAGE TV NETWORKS REJECT THE SPOTS
Both of the nation's two major Spanish-language TV networks, Univision and Telemundo, have refused to broadcast the ads, with Univision saying they run directly counter to the network's own non-partisan public-service campaign encouraging Latinos to participate in the electoral process. The network also yanked the radio spot from its Las Vegas station within hours after it went on the air.
"Univision will not be running any spots from Latinos for Reform related to voting," a network spokesman said in a statement. "It is also important to clarify that while Mr. Robert de Posada has on occasion provided political commentary on Univision, representing one of various points of views, he is not in any way affiliated with Univision. Univision prides itself on promoting civic engagement and our extensive national campaigns encourage Hispanics to vote."
Within hours of Univision's decision, its rival, NBC-owned Telemundo, told the Associated Press that it, too, would not broadcast the spots. De Posada's group had planned to run the ads in Nevada, Florida, California, Texas and Colorado from now through election eve, but was forced to scuttle the plan after Univision and Telemundo gave the ads the thumbs-down.
De Posada told ABC News that although he has halted purchasing airtime for the ads, he intended to push forward with the spots on the Internet, including YouTube. He also plans to file a complaint against Univision and Telemundo with the Federal Election Commission.
Under current law, TV and radio stations cannot edit or refuse political ads paid for by candidates' campaigns, but they are free to accept or reject ads by outside groups.
'DON'T VOTE' ADS 'OVERT ATTEMPT AT SUPPRESSING LATINO VOTE,' SAYS LULAC
The ads were roundly condemned by Latino community leaders and even by some Republican candidates. In a statement issued last Tuesday, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the nation's oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization, branded the ads "cynical" and an overt attempt at suppressing Latino voter turnout.
"This is overt voter suppression, and it's ugly," said LULAC President Margaret Moran. "It is precisely because of this latest voter suppression tactic that Latino voters should vote."
President Obama also slammed the ads during a roundtable with reporters from Spanish-language media. "I think it is terrible," he said. "It is a cynical political ploy to try to drive Latino votes to benefit a Republican candidate in Nevada who would never vote for immigration reform."
The campaign of Tea Party-backed Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle condemned de Posada's ads -- but only after her Democratic opponent, incumbent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, blasted her for not denouncing the ads sooner.
"No ad should ever discourage voters from voting or expressing their opinions at the ballot box," Angle's spokesman Jarrod Agen said in a statement to ABC News.
The Angle campaign issued its statement a day after Reid, speaking on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, ripped into Angle's initial silence on the matter. "Can you think of anything less patriotic and more un-American?" Reid asked a group of students after casting an early ballot. "It's the American thing to do — to vote. How can she [Angle] possibly not speak out against what they've done?"
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF GOP STILL FOLLOWING NIXON'S 'SOUTHERN STRATEGY'
The episode is but the latest in what this column asserted back in April is the GOP's wholesale writing off of the Latino vote -- a continuation of the party's infamous "Southern Strategy" that alienated African-Americans more than 40 years ago -- driving both voter blocs firmly into the Democratic column.
But the GOP is writing off non-white voters at its own peril, for the strategy is also transforming the Republican Party into what the Democratic Party used to be before the 1960s: An overwhelmingly white and deeply conservative party whose voting base is most heavily concentrated in the Deep South and Rocky Mountain West.
There are some who argue that today's GOP is turning into "the New Dixiecrats," a reference to the conservative Southern whites who bolted from the Democratic Party in 1948 in protest of the party adopting a civil rights plank at its national convention and later formed the segregationist States' Rights Party, better known as the "Dixiecrats," who ran with Senator Strom Thurmond as its presidential candidate.
FLYING UNDER THE RADAR: THE BROWNING OF AMERICA'S POPULATION
Amid all the heat of the 2010 election campaign, one fundamental factor that is likely to have a determining effect on next week's vote -- and every election thereafter -- has been flying under the media radar: The changing demographic face of the American electorate.
In his inaugural address, President Obama referred to America's changing face when he said, "Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans . . . What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply."
Even before Obama's election, the shift was already becoming evident: America is becoming browner, as non-white Americans become a greater and greater proportion of the U.S. population and white Americans conversely contract toward losing their majority status by mid-century, according to the Census Bureau.
Already, the white proportion of the U.S. population has fallen from 75.7 percent in 1990 to 71.6 percent in 2000, the Census Bureau reports. With the results of the 2010 Census still to be made public, the bureau estimates that the white proportion has fallen further to 65.8 percent today -- barely a two-thirds majority -- and projects it will shrink to barely 60 percent 15 years from now.
NON-WHITES ALREADY EXCEED 40 PERCENT OF NATION'S UNDER-18 YOUTH POPULATION
Already, non-whites comprise more than 40 percent of the youth population of America under 18 years of age, according demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution. And they comprise an outright majority of the youth population in eight states: Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Texas.
In Hawaii, the president's native state, non-whites are an outright majority of the state's total population, with Japanese-Americans alone comprising 52 percent of the state's residents. Frey projects that non-whites will become the majority of the youth population nationwide within the next decade.
"[Latinos] accounted for 50 percent of national population growth since 2000, compared with 14 percent for Asians, 13 percent for blacks, and 17 percent for whites," Frey reports, adding that while the white U.S. population is projected to fall into minority status by 2042, its preschool population is likely to fall to that status by the end of this decade.
Meanwhile, the U.S. population as a whole is getting older, as the 78-million-strong Baby Boomers -- born between 1946 and 1964 -- are inexorably approaching senior citizenship. But the older the age group, the whiter is gets; an overwhelming 80 percent of senior citizens are white, Frey reports.
These twin developments will inevitably create a serious cultural -- and political -- gap between the older and younger generations that Frey predicts will be much wider than the cultural war between the Baby Boomers and their World War II "GI Generation" parents in the 1960s.
GOP IS BLANCHING WHILE AMERICA TURNS MORE COLORFUL
Nowhere is the widening gap between mostly-white older America and multiracial younger America more evident than in the political sphere. The 2008 election revealed just how stark the divide is, with young voters -- especially non-white and racially-mixed young people -- strongly preferring Obama, and older voters -- especially white seniors -- breaking solidly for Republican John McCain.
Throughout the 2008 campaign, rallies for the Democratic candidates drew substantially multiracial crowds, while turnout at rallies for GOP candidates were almost exclusively white, including a town hall-style meeting for McCain and several rallies for then-GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, in which several attendees openly expressed racist or anti-Muslim viewpoints about Obama.
'BLANCHING' OF GOP ACCELERATES WITH RISE OF TEA PARTY MOVEMENT
That pattern has since accelerated with the rise of the Tea Party movement, which has proven to be a major force to be reckoned with inside the GOP. Demographic surveys found that the Tea Party movement is virtually devoid of participation in it by non-whites.
Likewise have been this year's Republican primaries. In state after state, the results found that turnout was overwhelmingly -- in some states, almost exclusively -- among white voters, as African-Americans continued to shun the GOP in droves, and Latino turnout nosedived to record-low levels -- the latter the clearest sign yet of a backlash by Latino voters -- even conservative Cuban-Americans in South Florida -- against Republicans over the volatile issue of immigration.
As non-white Americans become a greater and greater proportion of the nation's population and electorate, the GOP is facing a stark choice: Either expand its electoral appeal to non-white voters, or else find itself relegated permanently to minority-party status -- or even electoral oblivion, replaced by a new party -- within the next 20 years.
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Copyright 2010, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.