With whites comprising a rapidly falling share of the electorate, the GOP must make a decision. They will need to reach out beyond their base in the Appalachian Mountains and Ozarks (notice how I refrain from using the “H-word”) and build a new coalition. The Democratic coalition is basically utilitarian whites, and also various minorities. The GOP has had a more difficult task; roping together economic libertarians, social conservatives, and “American greatness” neoconservatives. More recently the nativists have been added to the mix.
Consider two areas where the GOP has recently slipped, Latino voters and New Hampshire voters. The Latino problem is obvious; the GOP is now seen as being strongly anti-immigration. The GOP wins working-class white voters with exactly the same views on social and economic issues as the Latino voters it loses.
I find the New Hampshire case more interesting. I’ve previously argued that New Hampshire is the most successful state in America. Remember those “quality of life” indices done by organizations like the UN? The ones usually headed by a Nordic country? New Hampshire would probably come in number one in America. It’s the only state that I know of that has a very high average income level and a very high level of income equality. I’m pretty sure that New Hampshire’s bottom 20% are the most affluent in America, perhaps the world. They also do very well in education, and other non-economic indicators.
New Hampshire is also number one in America in terms of that Republican mantra of “getting the government off our backs.” No income or sales tax. Gay marriage. It’s a paradise for pragmatic libertarians like me. And it used to be highly Republican, but has suddenly become a
red blue state. The GOP couldn’t even win Dixville Notch, a northern town they used to carry by a landslide. The collapse of the GOP in New Hampshire, a state that ought to be the number one showcase model for the “small government party,” is a microcosm of what’s wrong with the modern Republican Party.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand that there are no easy answers here. If there were, they already would have been done. A less hostile stance on immigration (to get Latino voters), or a more accepting attitude toward gay marriage (to get New Hampshire voters), is likely to piss off some of the GOP base. I’m just trying to lay out the problem.
Please don’t leave the following silly comments:
1. “New Hampshire is small, it doesn’t matter.” Obviously I meant they are also losing New Hampshire-type voters in bigger states.
2. New Hamsphire went red because of migration from Massachusetts. No it didn’t. The migration is far too slow in the last two decades to explain the huge shift, and some of the people I know who migrated there were Republicans fleeing “Taxachusetts,” (which is also a misleading term.) Trust me, the numbers show you are wrong.
3. Don’t say New Hampshire is doing well because there are few minorities. There are lots of northern states with small percentages of minorities, and New Hampshire blows them all out of the water. They have an excellent governance model. Period. End of story.
PS. Hats off to Nate Silver.
PPS. Talk about polarization! Romney
one won 24 states, but only one by a less than 8% margin.
PPPS. Hats off to the voters of Washington and Colorado, for legalizing small amounts of pot. And Tyler Cowen mentioned GMOs won in California. I didn’t follow that issue, but I’m pleased to hear that.
PPPPS. All you Massachusetts liberals who voted in favor of making people suffer before they die should be ashamed of yourselves. That’s worse than Bush’s torture policy, and I’ll say so to your face when I meet you. (Conservatives too, but at least they have a religious reason.)