Thinking About Romney’s Southern Problem

 

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

It’s pretty clear that Mitt Romney has a Southern problem. The Republican candidate has consistently lost southern states. Indeed, it’s probable that if the South didn’t exist, then Mitt Romney would already have the nomination sown up today.

It’s also pretty probable that Romney will be the Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election. At this point, it would take an extraordinary event to deny him the nomination. It would need to be something on the lines of Romney saying that he doesn’t care about poor people.

It’s a very interesting exercise to think about how Romney’s weakness amongst southerners in the primary will affect his general election performance in the South.

The Republican Party in the South is composed of two constituencies: business Republicans and evangelical Republicans. Back when the South was solidly Democratic, wealthy white suburbanites (the business Republicans) were the first to start voting Republican. The white evangelicals came late to the party; indeed a dwindling number of them still vote Democratic. Romney is weak amongst the evangelical wing of the Republican Party in the South.

A good way to think about what this weakness means for the general election is to take a look at the 2008 Democratic primary, where Barack Obama was weak amongst several groups as well. Most famously, the president did poorly amongst white working-class voters in the Appalachians. This is a bad example to use, however, because Appalachian working-class whites have been moving against the president’s party for a while now. Southern white evangelicals, if anything, are becoming more loyal to Romney’s party.

There’s another group which Obama did very poorly with in the 2008 primary, and which is better suited to this analysis (see if you can guess what I’m talking about before finishing the next paragraph).

This group opposed Obama from the beginning to the end of the Democratic primary, despite his best efforts. People today forget this fact because group (unlike working-class Appalachians) is a strong Democratic constituency. Nevertheless, Obama’s weakness amongst this group made him lose states ranging California to Texas.

Indeed, if you look at Obama’s performance in the counties bordering Mexico in Texas, you’ll find him doing just as badly amongst Hispanics in Texas as he did amongst working-class whites in West Virginia and Kentucky.

The Hispanic vote in the 2008 Democratic Primary and the southern white evangelical vote in the 2012 Republican Primary have a lot in common. Both constituencies voted strongly against the party’s nominee during the primary, but both constituencies are still very loyal to the party during the general election.

So how did Obama’s poor performance amongst Hispanics in the 2008 primary end up affecting the general election? Well, there wasn’t much effect. Obama didn’t do great amongst Hispanics, but he didn’t do poorly. He did about average. Obama won the same percentage of the Hispanic vote that a generic Democrat winning a comfortable victory would win. He did underperform somewhat in several rural Hispanic areas.

By the same logic, Romney’s poor performance amongst southern white evangelicals in the 2012 primary won’t have much effect. Romney won’t do great amongst southern white evangelicals, but he won’t do poorly. He’ll do about average. Romney will win the same percentage of the southern white evangelical vote that a generic Republican will win. He will underperform somewhat in several rural southern areas.

There is one caveat to this analysis. Hispanic opposition to Obama was generally based on Hillary Clinton’s popularity and economic reasons. On the other hand, southern white evangelical opposition to Romney is based on personal dislike for Romney and religion. One could make a pretty strong argument that the latter two are more powerful forces than the former two.

But, all in all, Democrats shouldn’t get too excited about Romney’s Southern problem.

 

 

Court’s Ruling on Anti-Immigrant Law Undermines Our Values

On September 29, the Federal District Court in Birmingham upheld most of the sections of Alabama’s draconian immigration law in Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, et al. v. Bentley, et. al., and blocked some significant elements of this far-reaching law. The decision made by Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn clearly undermines the most fundamental American values of fairness and equality in that state. The law under review is considered by many civil and human rights activists and immigration advocates to be the harshest anti-immigrant law in the country.

Some of our partners have expressed a deep concern regarding  the federal court’s ruling. Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), said that “[t]his decision not only places Alabama on the wrong side of history but also demonstrates that the rights and freedoms so fundamental to our nation and its history can be manipulated by hate and political agendas – at least for a time.”  The SPLC, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and other members of their coalition are appealing the decision. 

In fact, the judge upheld a section of the law that requires local law enforcement to identify a person’s immigration status during arrests or traffic stops if an individual appears to be undocumented. The court also refused to block a requirement that public schools verify the immigration status of children and their parents. The judge, however, blocked other provisions of the law that would make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to work or to attend or enroll in public universities. 

Several states have attempted to implement similar laws that potentially exacerbate economic woes in already troubled times, and their residents know the dire consequences such measures could bring. Advocates concur that, even though it’s crucial to fix our broken system at the federal level, the state’s new anti-immigrant law will cause more problems than solutions. 

Unfortunately, draconian anti-immigrant laws and proposals are the product of a concerted effort in states across the country that seeks to demonize immigrants. Now more than ever, it is imperative to move a pro-immigrant narrative forward.  We at The Opportunity Agenda work to construct a common-sense dialogue on immigration, and our research and experience tells us that a pathway to citizenship that will expand opportunity to everyone is possible.

Here are our talking points on immigration and other resources on the Alabama law:

 

 

 

When Social Media and Cause Engagement for Minorities Come Together

The use of communications during the struggle for social justice in the United States is far from being a novelty. News spread quickly by word of mouth when black college students started a host of nonviolent sit-ins in several states almost 50 years ago, as The Washington Post’s Krissah Thompson noted. Today, civil rights activists, particularly African Americans and Hispanics, have found in social media a powerful channel to voice their support for a cause and generate cause engagement, according to a latest study by Georgetown University and Ogilvy PR Worldwide.

The study found that nearly one in three African-American adults (30 percent) and four in 10 Hispanics (39 percent) say “they’re more likely to support a cause or social issue online than offline,” whereas one in five (24 percent) of Caucasians expressed the same interest. Likewise, a slight majority of African Americans (58 percent) and Hispanics (51 percent) are more likely to believe that they can help spread the word “about a social issue or cause through online social networks” adding that they feel they’re part of a community by supporting causes online --compared to 34 percent of Caucasians.

The study goes on to say that, although television and print media are still regarded as reliable sources to learn about causes, both African Americans and Hispanics are significantly “more likely than Caucasians to look for social media as an additional source of information (31 and 27 percent versus 21 percent, respectively.)”

The Georgetown/Ogilvy study seems to corroborate a number of successful online campaigns within minority-oriented organizations. Color of Change, for example, is an online civil rights group that has proactively used a large email list of subscribers to champion causes like the fundraising to help reduce charges for a half-dozen young black men in Jena, LA in 2007. Also, the NAACP enhanced its webpage in 2009, started a new blog site, and has revamped its online advocacy list that hovers around 400,000 members.

Also, Thompson noted that a study by the Pew Internet & Family Life Projectfound an increasing preference among minority Internet users for Twitter, and in the past decade, “the proportion of Internet users who are black or Hispanic has nearly doubled—from 11 percent to 21 percent.”

Minorities’ zeal to join causes online signals the importance of social media for furthering civil rights, hence changing the nature of activism nowadays. And it’s proof that, even amid the latest display of partisanship in Washington, communities in the United States can find unity by way of technology.

 

 

Reforming the U.N. Security Council?

By: Inoljt,  http://mypolitikal.com/

The United States has permanent membership in the Security Council along with the China, France, Russia, and United Kingdom. Each of these countries may veto any resolution they desire to.

There have been occasional calls to reform the Security Council. The most discussed option has been adding Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan as permanent members.

Let’s take a look at each of the current Security Council members:

China – China has the world’s second-largest economy and – probably – the world’s third most powerful military. Its relative influence, however, is still limited. China today is far more of a great power than it was in 1945 (indeed, in 1945 it probably didn’t deserve to be labeled a great power). Moreover, China is indisputably becoming stronger.

France – France has the world’s fifth largest economy and a very modern and powerful military, probably in the world’s top five. On the other hand, its influence is somewhat limited outside the former French Empire. Compared with 1945, France is substantially less of a great power, having lost its empire and fallen under the American umbrella. Indeed, like most of Europe it has been in relative decline ever since 1918 and looks set to continue to decline in relative terms. This is because the Third World is slowly catching up to the First World, rather than any fault of France itself.

Russia – Russia has the smallest economy of the five, barely (or not at all) breaking into the world’s top ten biggest economies. However, Russia’s military is unquestionably the world’s second strongest, and it dominates the region it is located in. Russia fell into steep decline after the fall of the Soviet Union, when it was on par with the United States, and has only recently begun to recover.

United Kingdom – The United Kingdom has much in common with France. Its economy is the world’s sixth largest, and its military is probably in the world’s top five. Nowadays, the United Kingdom’s influence is more cultural than anything else; it neither dominates Europe or the former British Empire. Out of all the powers, the United Kingdom has declined the most since 1945 – losing both its empire and economic preeminence.

United States – The United States has the world’s largest economy and most powerful military. It strongly influences the entire world. It is more powerful than in 1945, with the fall of its great rival the Soviet Union.

All in all the United States, Russia, and China (going in order of their great power strength) definitely ought to be in the Security Council. The case is more questionable for France and the United Kingdom. Europe is still a very powerful entity in the world and should have a permanent member in the Security Council. But having two members in the Security Council – as is currently the case – certainly overstates its status.

The trouble is that by themselves, France or the United Kingdom aren’t powerful enough to have one seat. Nor is the European Union influential or coherent enough to deserve a seat. Under an ideal situation, one-third of a seat each would go to France and the United Kingdom, with the other third going to Germany. This, of course, wouldn’t be feasible in the real world.

Finally, let’s take a look at the countries which some propose adding as permanent members:

Brazil – Brazil has the world’s seventh or eighth largest economy, which is why people propose adding it. However, Brazil has no substantial military presence to speak of. Its influence is limited to Latin America (where the United States is probably more influential). While Brazil has become relatively more powerful since 1945, it is still not in the category of great power status.

Germany – Germany probably has the strongest claim to being added to the permanent Security Council. Germany’s economy is the world’s 4th largest (bigger than the United Kingdom or France), but its military is still quite weak due to the restrictions imposed upon it after World War II. Germany is generally seen as Europe’s first-among-equals; it is Germany, not France or the United Kingdom, which is coordinating the response to the European Union debt crisis. Germany has thus definitely become more powerful after rising from the ashes of 1945.

India – India is similar to Brazil in many respects, except weaker. It has the world’s tenth or eleventh biggest economy. Like Brazil, its military is essentially nonexistent. It has very little influence even in its neighborhood. India has certainly strengthened since 1945, when it was under foreign rule. However, it definitely is not yet a great power. One could make a stronger case for adding Italy or Canada to the permanent Security Council than India (or Brazil, for that matter).

Japan – Japan is a unique case. Its economy is the world’s third largest, which seems to say that Japan ought to be included in the permanent Security Council. Japan’s military, however, is extraordinarily weak. Furthermore, Japan has no regional influence; it is regarded negatively by its neighbors for its crimes in World War II. Indeed, Japan has been bullied quite recently both by Russia and China over disputed islands, with Russia and China getting the better of it each time. While Japan has advanced economically since 1945, its regional influence is still lower. Before World War II, for instance, Japan occupied Korea and much of China as a colony; this would be impossible today.

Out of these four countries, probably only Germany truly ought to be in the permanent Security Council. Brazil and India are still middle powers. Japan, while economically strong, lacks the other qualifications that go along with Great Power status.

Indeed, none of these countries have been able to exert their strength in ways the Security Council Five have in the past decade. The United States invaded and occupies Iraq and Afghanistan, countries half around the world. Russia invaded Georgia. The United Kingdom and France are currently bombing Libya. Perhaps only Germany – and even this is fairly uncertain – can do something similar today.

The world has changed a lot since 1945, but it has also changed a lot less than many believe. The five great powers in 1945 still are, by and large, the five great powers in 2010.

 

 

Growing Republican Strength Along the Rio Grande River?

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The state of Texas is one of the Republican Party’s most valuable strongholds. It adds a good 38 electoral votes to the Republican candidate’s electoral vote; Democrats have not been competitive in the state for at least a decade.

One of the only Democratic regions in Texas lies along the Rio Grande River:


Link to Map of Texas, 2008 Presidential Election

This region is the part of Texas that borders Mexico. It is readily apparent in the map above as the only group of blue counties that President Barack Obama won outside of a major city.

The area is one of the most Hispanic areas in the United States; there are places, especially next to the border of Mexico, where the Hispanic percentage approaches 100%. Some of these people have lived along the Rio Grande for hundreds of years, with roots dating back to when Texas was a part of Mexico.

There are several other distinguishing characteristics. The parts of Texas along the Mexican border are among the poorest regions in the United States. Politically speaking, voter turn-out is very low – perhaps lower than any other part of the country.

When the rest of Texas moved steadily Republican, South Texas swung leftwards for much of the twentieth century. In 1996 the Democratic presidential nominee won almost every single county south of San Antonio, some with over 80% of the vote.

Since then, however, Republicans have recovered their verve. President George W. Bush did incredibly well amongst Hispanics in Texas; in 2004 he even won 86% Hispanic Cameron County in the Rio Grande Valley. In 2008 the Democratic presidential candidate once again posted solid numbers along the Rio Grande. Nevertheless, they ran well behind their 1996 performance throughout the region:

Link to Map of Texas, Voting Shifts From 1996 to 2008

(Note: Edited NYT Image)

Compared to 1988 – a year in which the Democratic presidential candidate suffered a resounding national defeat – the 2008 nominee, despite winning a solid national victory, also failed to improve markedly in the Rio Grande area:

Link to Map of Texas, Voting Shifts From 1988 to 2008

(Note: Edited Center For American Progress Image)

(Note: This image can be accessed here.)

Note that in 2008 Democrats lost Texas by 11.8%; in 1988 they lost Texas by 12.6%.

In the 2010 midterm elections Republicans also made several gains in South Texas, winning two heavily Hispanic congressional districts. The first was the 23rd congressional district, which is 65.5% Hispanic; the second the 27th congressional district, which is 71.6% (!) Hispanic.

Link to Map of Texas Congressional Districts Along Rio Grande River

These patterns are not unique to Texas. In rural south Colorado, for instance, traditionally Hispanic counties have also trended Republican since the 1990s.

Whether the areas of Texas bordering the Rio Grande River will continue moving Democratic or Republican is up-to-question. In Texas, the effects of Mr. Bush’s appeal to Hispanics still are heard; Hispanics in the state are some of the more conservative in the country. The Texas Republican Party has also been relatively moderate on immigration issues. For instance, Republican Governor Rick Perry – a firecracker on other issues – opposes SB 1070.

Needless to say, Republican success at cutting Democratic margins in the counties bordering the Rio Grande would constitute a major achievement for the party.


If a Democrat is ever to win Texas – and none has done so for more than a decade – he or she will need enormous margins there. If Republicans go from 30+% to 40+% of the vote in El Paso or Hidalgo County, it is very difficult to imagine Democrats ever winning Texas.

For more than a decade Democrats have latched onto the Great Hispanic Hope: that growing numbers of Democratic-voting Latinos in Texas will one day turn the state blue. Republican success at winning Hispanics would crush that dream.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

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