After spending an entire month looking over the demographics of the two major coalitions in early 2005, on April 15, 2005 I drew the following conclusion
:The quickest way to summarize the developing demographic trends of the two coalitions is a white Christian coalition versus a non-white and / or non-Christian coalition. The voting habits of non-whites and white non-Christians are rapidly approaching parity, just as the voting of white Protestants and white Catholics are doing the same. Further, race and religion are now far better at determining how someone will vote than region, income, union membership, or pretty much anything else you could name.(...)
In the interim, which will form the majority of the rest of our lives, the role of progressives and of the Democratic coalition will be to bring about an end to the current order of identity as visualized by large segments of the country and the world. We will win where identity ends, and our children will thank us for it. Maybe there is a clash of civilizations, a clash we need to end. Maybe that is our role in the world.
Every since I wrote that article, I became convinced that pluralism was a core value of progressivism, and that the "battle of civilizations" was a core value of conservatism. I became equally convinced that in order for progressives to succeed in the electoral realm, we needed the country to side with us on this binary opposition. Now, looking over demographic shifts in the two coalitions from 2004 to 2006 based on national exit polls of the two elections, that seems to be exactly what happened. (see 2004 exit polls
and 2006 exit polls
In 2006, Democrats made gains across the board because of Iraq, Katrina, Social Security, Corruption, et all. However, the true dagger came from Latinos who, to the tune of a shocking thirty points
, shifted to Democrats more than any other demographic group in the country. This almost certainly because of the hateful, harsh, anti-immigration rhetoric from the conservative base, and refused to even listen to its leaders like Bush and McCain who wanted to adopt a more open approach. This shift accounted for between 25% and 30% of the entire shift to Democrats nationwide, and did not net Republicans any "backlash" gains whatsoever. Considering Latino population growth, that is the sort of dagger that will stick in and cause wounds to fester for a long, long time. It is also probably one of the main reasons why Democrats did so well among both Catholics and the youth vote.
Pluralism won out over the "battle of civilizations" this time around. Democrats won because the nation turned away from conservative ideas of cultural supremacy and turned toward progressive ideas of pluralism. The war on Latinos and Asians (the anti-immigration message), the war on non-Christians (which they called the war on Christmas), the war Muslims (which they call the war on terror), the war on the GLBT community, the war on poor African-Americans in New Orleans--this all failed for the conservative Republican base. Their general war on pluralism did not produce any sustainable backlash for them, but instead turned key, growing demographics towards Democrats. That not only played a key role in how Democrats won the 2006 elections, but in giving us momentum for many elections to come. If conservatives persist on running on a message that denounces the key demographic changes in this country, they can expect to quickly become reduced to a near-permanent minority in our national politics.
In the extended entry, I have included a list of the pro-Democratic shifts of numerous demographic groups.