Sunday, March 25, 2012

What Will Happen....

Here's what will happen this year: 

Just as the Romney campaign has predicted, Romney will continue to win primaries in states that do not have large numbers of evangelicals. Evangelicals are not a majority anywhere but they are almost all Republicans and they vote in large numbers. Contrary to what the media talking heads commentariat would have us believe, the election results are not a poll of public opinion. They are a count of the opinions of those who showed up to vote. In a country with as little voter participation as this one has, that is a substantial difference. 

By all accounts, evangelicals have a high turnout percentage. Since on average the state electorates are roughly half Republican and half Democrats, a constituency that appears all on one side effectively doubles its influence in the party it votes for. Voter turnout in the US during the past 50 years has been just over half the of registered voters in Presidential election years, about 3/8 in midterm elections. This means that if the minority that votes all on one side also has a high rate of voter turnout, they can almost double again their influence in the party they vote in. Thus a minority like the evangelicals can effectively quadruple their voting power in their party. If the candidate or issue they support is not monolithically opposed by the rest of their party, they can be almost impossible to beat if they constitute anywhere from 8 to 10% of the electorate in their state or more. If their party goes on to win the election by 50.1% or more of the votes, their power within their party can be magnified to the whole national government. So evangelicals matter. 

They are why Rick Santorum, a politician from a northern industrial state that is typically politically centrist (e.g. longtime liberal Republican-turned-Democrat Senator Arlen Specter, a Jew whose political career was in Philadelphia. He represented Pennsylvania in the Senate for 30 years.) is winning primary after primary in states like Iowa, Mississippi, Alabama, and recently Louisiana. The paucity of evangelicals in states like New Hampshire and Illinois is why Romney is winning there. The cultural demographics of the nation are such that the evangelical vote is concentrated in the South and to a lesser extent in the Midwest. The South, though large, is greatly outweighed by the northern and western states. 

BUT it is the South that is the pillar of Republican fortunes. The Republican electoral strategy since 1964 has been to win all of the South and as much as possible elsewhere and cobble the two together into an Electoral College majority. This has worked repeatedly. The consequence of it is that the Republicans must win the South if they are to have a chance in the election. Romney has yet to win a primary in any Southern state. Evangelicals don't like him for being a Mormon and for being a billionaire and for being from liberal Massachusetts and now for the Etch-a-Sketch remark by his campaign chief. Which raises the possibility that they won't vote for him in the general election. 

The Romney people, including the candidate himself, have publicly dismissed this possibility on the theory that, given a choice between even Romney and Obama, that they will be forced to vote for Romney. This is short-sighted. It omits the third choice which is to not vote. For every election that Wikipedia gave figures for, 'Did Not Vote' got almost 50% of registered voters.  It outpolled the winning candidate, who got just over half of the 50% who did vote by almost two to one, and the losing candidate by even more. If Southern and Midwestern evangelicals so much as significantly diminish their voter turnout, Romney, as the Republican nominee, could lose the South not because the evangelicals voted for Obama, but because given a choice between two evils, they stayed home. 

The same logic applies to black people. Like evangelicals, blacks all vote for one party, the Democratic Party. Unlike evangelicals, blacks have low voter turnout. Contrary to common impression, black political powerlessness is as much a product of black indifference to actually showing up to vote, as is it of nefarious white obstructionism. When they do turn out in large numbers they are just as powerful, as we saw in 2008.  

With a Democratic incumbent, the Democratic primaries are of no significance for the presidential election, so only the general election is important. But the issues have changed for blacks. In 2008, black people were flabbergasted and amazed by the possibility of a black being president for the first time in American history. This year the novelty is gone. The question is no longer how amazing it would be to have a black president, but the more familiar one of 'what have you done for me lately?' And the answer to that one has to be, "Not much." During Obama's presidency blacks have been harder hit by both unemployment and by foreclosures than the rest of the country. 

 The administration has to offer the same excuses to them that it has to offer to everyone else - "It's George Bush's fault, not ours." and "It would have been worse but for us." Four years on, those excuses have worn thin. My guess is that black voters will find those excuses as unpersuasive as the rest of the country does. So the task of the administration campaign will be to persuade black voters to turn out to vote for someone they like but feel hasn't helped them.  The task of the Romney campaign will be to persuade evangelicals to turn out to vote for someone they don't trust and don't like. Whoever does their task better will win. 

The tactic both sides will use is fear. We will see covert and not-so-covert suggestion that Obama will take away our guns, appoint Muslims to the Supreme Court, and run $4 trillion deficits.  On the other side we will see references to cracker racists taking over the government and exporting every last job in the country to China. 

My guess is that the Republicans will again refrain from playing the race card. Do not imagine that this restraint was or will be altruistic. Their reason for not playing it is that if they did, it would guarantee huge turnouts of blacks and liberals and they would be swamped at the polls. The reason they are not doing it is simply because it would backfire on them, and for no other reason.

My prediction is that the general election will be closer than anyone else is predicting.  Mitt Romney's campaign's strength in the primaries has been money and organization.  Barack Obama's campaign in the general election will have more of both than Romney will.  In addition, Barack Obama is a better speaker and debater than Mitt Romney who was unable to hold his own against even the likes of John McCain in the 2008 primaries.   

My prediction for the election is that Barack Obama will be proven to be a Kenyan-born Muslim and disqualified.  At the same time, the Etch-a-Sketch Corporation will successfully sue Romney for  patent violations, and he will be disqualified as well.   The Republicans will run Gingrich against the Democratic candidate Joe Biden.  No one will vote for either of them and the government will be forced to disband.  The judges at American Idol will appoint Ron Paul to be Philosopher-King but he will refuse to serve.  In desperation, Congress will rescind the Declaration of Independence and the eastern states will return to their prior status as British colonies.  The British, absorbed in soccer matches, hooliganism, and royal weddings, will fail to notice.  The rest of the country will be returned to France, Spain, Russia, Mexico, and the descendants of Queen Liliokulani.  The claims of the Native Americans will be ignored.





  1. Tyrone12:35 PM

    I am offended by your remarks. I am a successful African American and a proud Republican. Your attempt to characterise us as Democrat stooges is reminiscent of slavery. Your attempt to insult my people with simplistic analysis is reminiscent of the Jim Crow laws. Shame on your sir, shame.

  2. "Tyrone", you are so full of it. You are a troll and neither black nor a Republican. In any case, characterizing a constituency of whom 96% voted for the Democratic candidate in 2008 as being Democrats just might not be reminiscent of slavery and Jim Crow. Nor is it simplistic. Now, whoever you actually are, "Tyrone", please shut up and stop bothering the adults.

  3. Tyrone12:52 PM

    Your ignorance is absurd. Republicans liberated us from slavery from the democrats. Democrats then instituted the Jim Crow laws. A Republic President sent in troops so that black children could go to school. I grew up in inner city Detroit but am now a successful businessman. You should think about things before revealing your prejudices.

  4. If Romney were manufactured from high impact plastic, he wouldn't appear any less genuine.

  5. Tyrone, you are such a lousy troll. You are obviously a white redneck yahoo primitive from Oklahoma or some other such shithole. You are not fooling anyone.

  6. Fowl Ideas, on the other hand, is confusing or clever or both. I am not sure.

  7. "Tyrone", though an obnoxious redneck troll, inadvertently raises an interesting question. Unbeknownst to him, there is a thirty year gap between the Emancipation in 1863 and the passage of Jim Crow laws in the 1890's and thereafter. Even allowing for the occupation of the South by the US Army until 1877, on the shaky theory that white Southerners were somehow overawed by the presence of a Union Army that had recently kicked their butts, that still leaves almost twenty years before Jim Crow laws began to be passed. What happened in between? In the years immediately after the war the freed blacks were frequently in power in state governments because they were the only ones eligible to vote. All the whites failed the voter test of not having participated in or supported the rebellion. By 1877, all the black governments had been replaced by white governments which were then re-admitted to the Union. So, even allowing for the black state governments period, the twenty year gap remains.

    Two theories come to mind. One is that their was no need because the Reconstruction South had so few public services, public or private, that there was not much to segregate. And most of life was governed by custom rather than law so, again, there was no need for segregation laws. This would have been reinforced by the fact the generation emancipated from slavery were generally both grindingly poor and illiterate. By the 1890's there had just started to be a black business and professional class. It would have been this nascent educated class which would have begun to demand equality of treatment by public authorities. The Jim Crow Laws can be seen as responding to these demands by suppressing them.

    Another possible theory is that after the war, suppression of black communities was handled informally and ruthlessly by the omnipresent Ku Klux Klan. By the 1890's the rise of a white business and professional class would have made such tactics seem both primitive and juvenile. Prosperous burghers were not inclined to ride horses at night while wearing hoods and personally committing violence. Respectable people do not do that. They arrange for their legislatures and police forces to do it for them.

    To the white rural poor of the 1870's, blacks were potential social rivals who had to be kept in their place. To the white middle class of the 1890's, blacks were employees who had to be kept at a distance. KKK terrorism was personal, often committed against people whose names one knew. Jim Crow segregation was impersonal and institutional.

    If I had to put the change in one place in particular, I would say the Jim Crow laws were a product of Southern urbanization. It is hard to say which was worse, the personal violence and hatred of one's neighbors, or the impersonal faceless racist segregation of the cities.

    The urbanization hypothesis is reinforced by the fact that the Jim Crow laws were not passed in single bunch but continued to be enacted in a continuing dribble of nastinesses every decade up to and throughout the 1930's, just as the South continued to urbanize through the same period.

    With the coming of the Second World War in the 1940's, blacks began to vote out segregation laws by voting with their feet. Vast numbers of people left the Charm and Hospitality of the South for war industry jobs in the cities of the north and east. These would include those from whom the fictional "Tyrone" claims to be descended.