Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pat Buchanan: Zero-Sum Idiot

Pat Buchanan is an idiot. Carpetbagger has a post about how Buchanan is seriously arguing that Republicans would do best if they race-baited against Hispanics in order to woo more white people. Buchanan's argument is that:

In 2008, Hispanics, according to the latest figures, were 7.4 percent of the total vote. White folks were 74 percent, 10 times as large. Adding just 1 percent to the white vote is thus the same as adding 10 percent to the candidate's Hispanic vote.
But even Ronald Reagan never got over 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. Yet, he and Richard Nixon both got around 65 percent of the white vote.
And we're to imagine that these are the same white people who are voting today, and that McCain should have wooed those same white voters that Nixon and Reagan got. But of course, even Reagan's most recent victory was twenty-four years earlier, and many more of these Reagan voters will be dead by the next election. And that's not to mention that Nixon and Reagan were at the beginning of the Southern Strategy, back before the non-racists realized what sort of party they were voting for.

And the problem is, are there whites left who don't realize that Republicans are racist? I mean, of the 43% of whites who voted for Obama, were a few of them anti-black bigots who rejected McCain because he wasn't racist enough? Because it seems to me that the Republicans have just about all the racists they're going to get and it'd be damn difficult to even squeeze an extra 1% of whites by being more racist. And if electing a black president wasn't enough to scare the racists into voting Republican, I honestly can't imagine what would do it.

And sure, yeah, Bush, Reagan, and Nixon got more whites than McCain, but is there some evidence to suggest that this was because they were more racist than McCain? Or that racists were more likely to reject Kerry than Obama? That seems extraordinarily unlikely. Statistically, it should be argued that Obama was simply more popular than Kerry was, so it just made sense he'd get more white people. I doubt McCain lost the racists to Obama.

Wrong Side of Demographics

And of course, even his basic numbers are wrong. Sure, whites made up a much larger percentage of the population than Hispanics, but that includes lots of deeply Republican states that McCain was assured victory in. New Mexico, on the other hand, had 41% Hispanic vote and soundly went to Obama after repeat Bush victories. Similarly, Florida had 14% Hispanic vote, which is twice as much as the nationwide total Buchanan used for his calculations. Winning an extra racist in Mississippi isn't a zero-sum game with losing an Hispanic in Florida. For Republicans, such a trade-off would be a definitely loss.

And as I'm sure you know, these demographics are just getting worse for Republicans. Even in Texas, which is a mandatory win for any Republican nominee, only 63% voters were white, with 20% Hispanic. By contrast, Texas voters were 73% white in 2000, and only 10% Hispanic. It's as if that 10% shift went directly from whites to Hispanics in just eight years. Sure hate to be on the wrong side of that trend.

And Obama won the under 30 vote in Texas, and did well with the 30-40 age bracket. But it wasn't because young white Texans were voting for Obama (they didn't), but because so many young voters were minorities. 7% of Texas voters were blacks or Hispanics under 30, while 9% were whites under 30. Can you imagine how different presidential politics will be if this trend continues and Texas some day has almost as many minority voters as whites? This isn't at all unlikely.

But please, Mr. Buchanan, feel free to alienate these voters as much as possible, as 30% of them were dumb enough to vote Republican. That's the same number of young whites who voted for McCain, so by Buchanan's logic, this is a even swap. But of course, I somehow doubt the 30% of whites who voted for Obama did so because McCain wasn't racist enough, so I doubt there will be any swapping going on here.

Not All Whites Are Racist

And really, Buchanan's problem is that he's looking at the wrong numbers. It's not about how many whites there are compared with non-whites. We need to look at how many racists there are, versus non-racists. Unfortunately, that's generally not a question asked during exit polls.

Because lots of white people also reject race-baiting, and so you can't include them in the numbers of whites who race-baiting might woo. Sure, 74% of voters were white. But 43% of those voted to elect our first black president. I suspect race-baiting is unlikely to work on them. Indeed, my calculations suggest that Buchanan's strategy actually risks offending almost 54% of voters, in order to woo a shrinking demographic of racists. Not that many of that 54% was within Republican reach, but again, there aren't a lot more racists left to woo either.

But of course, all this is a long way of saying that Buchanan is an idiot. Besides being entirely immoral, his rationale for race-baiting is a strategic error, as it merely doubles-down on a racist gambit that has already shown itself to be counter-productive. As Carpetbagger suggested, it appears that Pat Buchanan isn't aware of the fact that many white people actually reject racism. And if any racists haven't figured out yet which party is the one for them, then they're obviously too stupid to vote.

True, Buchanan's race baiting might possibly attract new converts. But at this point, they're losing ten votes for every one they might possibly gain. Sorry Pat, but you've already got the racists and it's clearly a shrinking demographic that already wasn't enough to defeat a black presidential nominee. Like it or not, America is a tolerant nation and the bigot vote is simply too expensive for a party with national aspirations. But as with Carpetbagger, I certainly hope Republicans are dumb enough to follow Buchanan's advice to the end.

[Full Disclosure: I was eating Mexican food when I wrote this, which might explain my pro-Latino bias in this post.]


ex DLB said...

Muy Bueno, Doc! Viva Buchanan!

Paul said...

Is it in their DNA? What is it about Irishman and being a bigot (too many of them on TV, Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck), on the one hand Pat Buchanan, slams Sotomayor because her Yale grades, her experience on the courts are not valid because they were handed to her because of her race or she real did not even earn it, on the other hand he adamantly supports Palin because of her accomplished background, please, what a joke, he is an Irish bigot, plain and simple, like most of his thoughts.