Assuming that any group votes in a bloc is a mistake. Given that we live in and love a nation built on independence and individual freedom, one would think that the idea that people of all races, faiths, ages and sexual orientation are capable of forming their own political opinions would be less than groundbreaking, and yet time and time again we see the Pundit Knows Best crowd assessing the American people as though they were a segmented group of schoolchildren in a high school cafeteria.
Over the weekend, I spoke with a Cuban friend of mine who recently moved back to Philadelphia from south Florida. In and around Miami especially, she told me, it’s a well-known fact that the Cuban population generally leans to the right while the Puerto Rican population usually leans to the left. A bleeding heart liberal–as most of my old friends seem to be–she told me that she often finds it frustrating that some Democratic Party hopefuls don’t even attempt to court her or others like her. Furthermore, she said, just as frustrating is the apparent perception among political candidates that ethnicity somehow equals myopic, single-issue interest.
“I wish that Kendrick Meek or Charlie Crist or Marco Rubio would spend more time talking to us about the same issues they talk about elsewhere,” my friend told me. “We know how they feel about the trade embargo, we know how they feel about travel restrictions, why not tell us what plans they have for our schools?”
To a certain degree, there is unquestionable logic with regard to a targeted approach to anything requiring marketing, whether it be a household product or a political candidate. Denture cream might be a tough sell to the MTV crowd, after all, just as New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino might be a tough sell among readers of The Advocate, despite sound fiscal ideas which could slow or stop the mass exodus of the wealthy from the Empire State.
However, in a mid-term election cycle which has intensified because of a renewed focus on fiscal issues and rekindled understanding of the merits of individual freedom, could it be possible that priorities have changed among those who plan to take a few minutes out of their day on November 2 to vote?
As a group, women voters generally pull the lever or push the button or check the box in favor of Democratic Party candidates. In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama won the votes of 56 percent of all women — up from both 2000, when Al Gore received 54 percent of the female vote, and 2004, when John F. Kerry received 51 percent of the female vote. According to comments from officials from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in the days following the 2008 presidential election, there were a few reasons that Barack Obama received the women’s vote:
According to Dr. Vicky Lowell, IWPR’s Acting Director, their research has shown that women feel more anxiety over financial burdens and their overall economic well-being than men. In women’s perceptions, Obama was:
- Better equipped to deal with the nation’s economic ills;
- Projected empathy for women’s financial struggles;
- Understood how hard it can be to keep a job today while caring for families;
- Understood that women are more economically vulnerable than men;
- Offered hope while acknowledging women’s struggles.
- Aware of the need for pay equity and work/life balanced policies.
- In touch with the need for expanded health insurance for children.
It appeared to women that Obama was proposing concrete policy solutions to the issues that they felt were most important.
Now, however, it appears that the tide is turning. The Pew Research Center says that the vote split among independent women between Democratic and Republican candidates is roughly equal, with independent women preferring the latter by three percent. (Overall, women still favored the Democrat on a generic ballot by three percent.) Back in March, a Quinnipiac University poll found that the face of the Tea Party could very well be female.
Could it be that women across the country are finding that spendthrift Democrats, obsessed with securing power in perpetuity at the expense of ordinary Americans, are out of touch with the very concerns cited by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in the wake of the 2008 election? Could it be that strong conservative women like Michele Bachmann, Linda McMahon, Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley, Sharron Angle, Kristi Noem and, yes, Christine O’Donnell identify with the average American woman in ways that Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Barbara Boxer simply cannot? Could it be, as Adrienne Royer wrote last week, that conservative women are saving feminism?
Exit polling following the 2008 presidential election showed that Barack Obama received 96 percent of the black vote, and that black voters comprised 13 percent of the electorate. Yes, that’s a voting bloc. That’s the proverbial Ben-Gay commercial airing during Matlock reruns. So, will turnout and political preferences change among black Americans in the 2010 election? Probably not. But Kevin Jackson, frequent Tea Party speaker and author of The Big Black Lie (buy it!), seems to think that even black voters are turning against President Obama, who finds himself “more confused than a woodpecker in a concrete forest.”
I have said for some time that Obama’s approval in the black demography is slipping, despite what the polls say. I believe the evidence of Obama’s desperation came with his inviting “selective” black media to the White House.
This tactic was interesting for two reasons. First, sneaking in the black press is an indicator that Obama knows that the “white press” is abandoning him. Obama appears to have been trying to pull a fast one on the white media.
Next, this tactic reminded me of something that would have happened during the ‘60’s under a white Democrat president. They were “sneaking blacks in the back door,” as the White House was embarrassed to let America know that are, shhh…talking to the black press.
This is not the first time that blacks were treated as second-class citizens by this administration. The black press has felt snubbed by Obama during his campaign, as they were only granted limited coverage. Obama took for granted that the black press would cover him favorably during his campaign, and they gladly accommodated.
Shortly after his election however, Obama continued taking the black media for granted, He proved was no different than white Democrat presidents who for years had taken the black vote for granted, as Obama dissed the black press. Under Obama, the black press was allowed into press conferences; however they were reseated and given no real seat at the table.
Obama believed that the black vote was well in hand, and the black press was not going to become yet another debt he had to repay. The list for payback was already long, with the Unions, special interests groups, then Obama’s political handlers. No other Democrat candidate had to be accountable to blacks, why should Obama.
The black press felt they had played a role in getting Obama elected, and he rewarded them by inviting them to the party, then making them “the help.” As soon as Obama got in office, he became whiter than Harry Reid, and traded his basketball for the golf clubs. Obama’s black media liaison—who resigned in August—spent more time keeping the black media away from Obama, so they wouldn’t see that Obama couldn’t even spell BET.
Obama is trying to do damage control in the black community—the only community where Obama still has a foothold. He knows that if he loses this solid base, he is of no use to the Democrats who put him in power.
Democrats in general know that if they lose the black community, this won’t just affect the election of 2010, but would have a ripple effect that would be devastating to the Regressive agenda for years to come.
As for the black community, they are waking up. The black community is slowly realizing that Uncle Barry has schizophrenia, and that he is no rock star.
Obama has unknowingly brought back the Reagan Revolution, as many blacks are seeing Democrats for what they really are, regardless of color.
Now, I cannot presume to speak for the black community–and, frankly, no one should presume to speak for any community in its entirety–but once I found myself back down south and outside of the entitlement society bubble that is the City of Brotherly Love, I see a group of people who are endlessly faithful, who devoted to family, and who want desperately to stand on their own. This is a group that, issue by issue, would vote down the line with conservatives if only conservatives could shake the stigma placed upon conservatism by a race-obsessed media.
This weekend, I caught a few minutes of a documentary on HBO about a family raising a daughter with Down’s Syndrome, a daughter who grew up and married a man with Down’s Syndrome. The documentary followed the family and the newlyweds as they struggled for independence, acceptance and productivity, and one statement made by the mother of the bride really struck me as poignant. “As a parent of a child with Down’s,” she said, “you become obsessed with protecting your child from people who wish to treat them poorly. What you come to realize, however, that often times because of that overprotective nature, the first person to treat them poorly is you.”
The policies put forth by this president and his administration do nothing to further the black cause. In fact, Barack Obama has only served to keep his black community down. Whether or not that translates into a shift toward voter independence among black Americans in 2010 or 2012, however, remains to be seen.
According to the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of the Latino vote went to Barack Obama in 2008. Clearly, Democrats see a mobilization of Latino voters as essential. Just as clearly, some Republicans think it just as important that Hispanic voters stay home next week.
Unfortunately, the perception of Hispanic Americans as a voting bloc has a habit of creeping into legislative endeavors. Democrats in charge on Capitol Hill lamented the popular opposition of a new comprehensive immigration reform bill which closely mirrored that which was shot down in 2005, and discussion of amnesty for illegal immigrants being provided by agency backchannels dominated news cycles for a few days in September. Still, a lack of work on comprehensive immigration reform, combined with an increased fervor among Republicans with regard to the issue of illegal immigration thanks to the stand taken by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer with regard to SB 1070 should provide Latinos with ample reason for voting Democrat this fall.
As my old friend cautioned, though — don’t write off Hispanics as a voting bloc. Marco Rubio, running for the U.S. Senate in Florida, has put out Spanish-language television commercials while simultaneously advocating that English be deemed the official language of the United States of America, and he enjoys robust support among Hispanics, being favored by 38 percent compared with 22 percent for Charlie Crist and 16 percent for Kendrick Meek.
In 2008, young voters preferred Barack Obama over John McCain by 68 percent to 30 percent, and the nation saw record turnout for a perennially lackluster demographic. With the president not headlining the ballot during the mid-term, younger voters will understandably be staying home.
As Mary Katharine Ham pointed out at The Weekly Standard last month, however, there will be more to the waning support for Democrats among our nation’s youth than apathy alone. We’re starting to see a genuine ideological shift among the traditionally idealist youth in America. Between 2008 and now, the advantage in party affiliation enjoyed by Democrats has been sliced in half, with Democrats receiving 35 percent support to Republicans’ 26 percent, as compared with 41 percent to 23 percent in 2008. Issue by issue, too, things have changed.
While Obama and Democrats remain more popular than Republicans, the Tea Party, and conservative figures, young voters’ reactions to issues in two polls belie the assumption that enthusiasm for Obama translated into undying to devotion to liberalism.
For instance, a majority of voters ages 18-29 side with the majority of the American people against the president on the Arizona immigration law and the Ground Zero Mosque. According to the Rock the Vote poll, they support the Arizona immigration law, 53-44.
On the issue of the Ground Zero Mosque, young people give another surprising answer, opposing it 52-41.
In a broader shift from 2008, and a foreboding one for Democrats, the federal deficit has crept into the issues most important to young people. It places third in the Rock the Vote poll–close behind concern about jobs and the economy and the cost of college–with 66 percent “very concerned” about it. In 2008, the deficit was 12th of 15 issues for young voters.
A Harvard Institute of Politics poll in March showed that, when it comes to the deficit, young people would even trade speedier economic recovery for keeping the deficit down:
When offered a choice, a majority (51%) of young adults said they believe that the “President and Congress should worry more about keeping the budget deficit down, even though it may mean it will take longer for the economy to recover;” 45% of 18-29 year-olds said that the “President and Congress should worry more about boosting the economy even though it may mean larger budget deficits now and in the future.”
Until those of us on the right manage to loosen the grip on our children currently held by leftists in academia, I doubt that we will see the kind of ideological transmogrification necessary to avoid the same sorts of battles again and again and again over the years as we struggle to keep our nation out of the doldrums of the Statists’ paradise. Furthermore, ballot initiatives such as Proposition 19 in California–it’s the legalization of pot, man!–will continue to draw otherwise lackadaisical younger voters to the polls where they otherwise may stay home. However, when it comes to straight politics, the more we educate–with regard to policies and perception–the more we will see the common sense gap close among new voters.
While concrete numbers are less than clear, support for Barack Obama among GLBT voters ranged from 68 to 81 percent in 2008. During the campaign, Barack Obama famously came out against gay marriage, but won support for his opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and his promise to address workplace discrimination and other societal ills.
Time and time again, however, Barack Obama and his administration has done nothing but disappoint gay voters. In June 2009, he betrayed many in the gay community by openly praising and defending the Defense of Marriage Act. More recently, there has been the ongoing brou-ha-ha over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” in which the administration has come down against ending the policy and, at best, has appeared conflicted.
Overall, though, there’s a feeling among many in the LGBT community that Democrats and Republicans alike only court gay voters around election time. According to a piece released yesterday by the Associated Press, many just aren’t buying it anymore.
“It’s all talk and nothing’s happening, and I’m just over it,” said Coatar, 62, a church business manager who said she’s as concerned about health care and homelessness as about gay issues. “I don’t know who to vote for and the election is a week away.”
Wyatt, 35, a maintenance worker at the Center on Halsted, a community center serving Chicago’s GLBT community, said politicians only court gay voters at election time.
“Once they’re elected, they’re not fighting for things like civil unions or same-sex marriage or ending ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ because they’re hot-button issues,” said Wyatt, who usually supports Democrats. “We’re just used as a piggyback for them to get into office. It’s absurd.”
Whether or not that’s the case, Wyatt isn’t the only one who feels that way.
And in places like Cook County, Ill., where the gay population represents about 7 percent of voters, that could mean the difference between victory and defeat in some races, said Rick Garcia, director of public policy for Equality Illinois. One of those races is a much-watched and close battle for Obama’s old Senate seat between Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk.
“If (candidates) can mobilize the gay community and get them out to vote, it could make all the difference in the world in some of these key races,” said Garcia.
But volunteers who’ve been calling the 18,000 or so members of Equality Illinois to urge them to vote have been getting an earful. Many members say they won’t vote or will vote against incumbents, regardless of their party affiliation or stance on gay issues.
This year’s election is a stark contrast to 2008, when the gay community turned out in droves to elect Obama and help Democrats regain control of Congress.
“People were clamoring and very excited about the change that then-candidate Obama promised America,” Garcia said. “Now I see lethargy at best and disgust at worst.”
He said gains won under Obama, including in fighting housing discrimination, have not filtered out to many in the gay community because “the big issues have not appeared to change at all.”
The disillusionment seen across America is not a gay thing, a Hispanic thing, a black thing, a female thing, or anything in between. What the politicians and pundits alike do not seem to understand is that, for once, this election is about the people.
When Michael Barone wrote last week that he was surprised at the political instincts of so many of the Tea Party backed political candidates–Tea Party neophytes, he called them–I couldn’t help but wonder how neither he nor Rush Limbaugh (who spent time discussing Barone’s piece on his show) understood exactly why the political instincts and acumen of those “neophytes” should have been anything but surprising.
Limbaugh said that Barone should have been proud that the very people he has been writing for and talking to throughout the years in newspapers and on television have learned from what he had written and said. I don’t think that was it. Sure, there is something to be learned from reading the Washington Examiner and, sure, the panel on Special Report is always worthy of a few minutes attention, but that’s not the reason that those “neophytes” have proven as skillful as they are.
These political newcomers, see, aren’t newcomers at all. To paraphrase Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell, they’re you and they’re me. And, when you understand the people and relate to the people and truly are one of the people, political instincts become, well, instinctual.
This election is about the American people. It’s not about black people or gay people or old people or young people. At its very heart, this election is about individual freedom and how that freedom is being eroded by the very people who seem to think that the same old problems can be solved by addressing people in groups.
For now, at least, the voting bloc is dead. Broken. Whether or not it stays that way depends upon how engaged the people as a whole and as individuals remain in the days, weeks and months following next week’s election.