The New Coalition

21st Century America Project March 2010 Poll Summary and Power Point

I wanted to follow up on yesterday's excellent presentation by NDN Fellows Mike Hais and Morley Winograd on the changing coalitions of the 21st Century Electorate by offering twoways to access the information from today's presentation online. 

You can download the slide show as a PDF and an Executive Summary of the poll here.

As you know, this poll is the first of three national polls of NDN's 21st Century America Project.  This project has been established to help policy-makers, elected officials and the public better understand the great demographic changes taking place in America today.  This new poll has been specifically designed to provide more insight into how the political coalitions of the two major political parties in America are adapting to these rapid changes.

Excited for Tomorrow's Presentation by Mike Hais and Morley Winograd on Emerging Political Coalitions

Tomorrow, Thursday March 4th at 12 noon, we're going to be having a great event here at NDN,  a special presentation on a new poll regarding the changing political coalitions of the 21st Century.  I encourage partisans and political idealogues of all stripes, as well as those interested in changing demographics to join us.You can rsvp to or by following this link.

Part of what is so great about this presentation is that it takes a look at very important segments of the electorate (Millennials, Unmarried Women, African-Americans and Latinos) and really emphasizes how their power exists in their emergence as a coalition - and how that coalition is growing. 

I know that this is going to be an exciting kickoff for our 21st Century America project.

GOP Turns Attention to Latino, Millennial Voters

Since our inception, NDN has been making the case that Latino and Millennial votes are critical and often deciding factors in down-ballot races across the country.  More recently, Simon has argued both that the GOP faces a long road back to a place of prominence and power - one that will necessitate reaching out to these important constituencies, and that Democrats cannot take the New Democratic Coalition, specifically Latinos and Millennials, for granted. 

Both narratives seem to be surfacing widely in the last two weeks.  The GOP knows they have a demographic challenge.  Now the question is: what will they do about it?   

Peter Slevin at The Washington Post takes a look at Republican's necessary strategic shift: focusing on Latinos, examining what Bush did right, and taking stock of where things are going and have gone wrong.  Embedded in the piece is this gem:

"The numbers don't lie," said Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant. "If Republicans don't do better among Hispanics, we're not going to be talking about how to get Florida back in the Republican column, we're going to be talking about how not to lose Texas."


Peter Wallsten over at The Wall Street Journal has a piece that echoes many of the same sentiments but takes the strategic overview and breaks it down into the GOP's current tactics: toning down anti-immigrant rhetoric, and courting Latino GOP candidates. From Wallsten's piece:

[M]any in the party have concluded that opposition to immigration legislation, a debate that is sometimes racially charged, has alienated millions of otherwise conservative Hispanic voters...

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who is coordinating some of the party's internal discussions, called the tandem effect of rising Hispanic population and dwindling Republican support an "untenable delta."

Then for the generational question, Kristen Soltis at Daily Caller and E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post tackle the latest Pew Research numbers on Millennial voters.

Soltis argues that the numbers show promise for the GOP, but only if the GOP is ready to invest in young voters.  From The Daily Caller:

[A] major study released by the Pew Research Center this week tells a story a year later that will have Republicans breathing a sigh of relief, thankful that young voters have “snapped out of it.” These voters, the Pew report says, are less enthused than in 2008 and have seen a major decline in job approval for President Obama. There are surely some old-school campaign veterans on the right declaring that they knew it all along: the Obama wave was a one-hit wonder.

But don’t break out the champagne just yet.

What Republicans should take from the change in political attitudes among young voters isn’t a sign of victory but rather one of opportunity, a precious second chance to bring young voters into the fold. Young voters once smitten with Obama and his party are now up for grabs, but it will take real effort to change some critical beliefs that can convert Generation O into Generation GOP.

And Dionne issues a similar wake-up call to Democrats

Democrats face disaster this fall and real problems in 2012 if the Millennials become disaffected from politics and if the Republicans continue to erode the Democrats' generational edge.

And what will Democrats do about it? Politicians have a bad habit in midterm elections: They concentrate on older folks, assuming younger voters will stay home on Election Day. This may be rational most of the time, but it is a foolish bet for Democrats and liberals this year. The young helped them rise to power and can just as easily usher them to early retirements. Obama cannot afford to break their hearts.

Part of what we can watch for in the coming months is how both parties engage these important segments of the electorate. This year's outreach efforts will let us know whether Republicans are willing to take the first steps down that long road back, and if Democrats know that they cannot take for granted members of the very coalition that put them back in power.

Democrats Still Most Likely to Succeed Among Millennials

The "Millennial Generation" of young voters (read: my generation), along with other members of what Simon often refers to as the "New Coalition," played a critical role in delivering the 2006 and 2009 Elections to Democrats.  But according to Pew Research - which has been doing some really exciting work on Millennials- Democrats' edge may be slipping.  From Pew:

"The Democratic advantage over the Republicans in party affiliation among young voters, including those who 'lean' to a party, reached a whopping 62% to 30% margin in 2008. But by the end of 2009 this 32-point margin had shrunk to just 14 points: 54% Democrat, 40% Republican."

Let it be said that 15% remains a sizable differential, and that in 2008 most Americans were at the height of their Republican discontent so there was probably nowhere to go but down.  Further, Millennials' core political values continue to be significantly more progressive than any generation before ours, so Democrats' baseline advantage (the "value synchronicity" advantage if you will) is durable, even in light of this recent slip.  With Millennial voters, Democrats may be losing their hold on Most Popular, but all the data indicates that they remain the clear favorite for Most Likely to Succeed.

Virginia and the New Coalition

Today's Post has an excellent analysis of Virginia's changing electoral landscape, detailing Democratic gains with Hispanics, African-Americans, young people and upper income and more educated voters.  The story of what happened in Virginia in 2008 mirrors what happened across the nation, and makes very clear the national GOP's problems are structural as well as temporal - they simply are not building a Party and a Coalition suited to the demographic realities of 21st century America.  

An excerpt:

The party's gains rest heavily upon the state's changing demographics and were amplified this year by deep enthusiasm for the Democratic presidential and senatorial candidates, coupled with a broadly successful turnout operation.

In Northern Virginia's outer suburbs, a growing number of nonwhite residents, particularly Hispanics, are diminishing what had long been a big source of votes for Republican candidates. Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties and Manassas and Manassas Park have all experienced double-digit increases in the percentage of nonwhite residents since 2000. And in each of those locations, Democrats' share of the vote increased proportionally.

The nonwhite population of Prince William, for example, has grown by 13 percentage points since 2000. President-elect Barack Obama carried the county with almost 58 percent of the vote -- 13 points better than former vice president Al Gore did in the 2000 presidential race.

Loudoun experienced a 12-point gain in the minority population since 2000, and Obama did 13 percentage points better than Gore did in 2000. Obama did 10 points better than Gore in Stafford, which saw a 10 percent increase in the minority population since 2000.

This shift, matched with historical Democratic strength in the inner suburbs, makes Northern Virginia a huge source of votes for Democrats. The region's size, compared with the rest of the state, threatens Republicans' ability to win statewide if Democrats can continue to get their voters to the poll, demographers and political scientists suggest.

"The transformation in Northern Virginia has been rapid and dramatic, and Obama came out of Northern Virginia with a margin of [213,000] votes, and that is very hard to overcome," said Ken Billingsley, director of demographics and information for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. "In Prince William, the change has already occurred, and I am not the least bit surprised that Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg are moving in that direction."


According to exit polls, Hispanics made up 5 percent of the statewide electorate this year, almost matching their overall share of the population. Hispanics in Virginia favored Obama over Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP nominee, by an almost 2 to 1 margin. If Republicans hope to recover from their losses in time for the 2009 races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the House of Delegates, their candidates will have to find a way to overwhelmingly win the white vote and make inroads with blacks and Hispanics.

"I, as a Southerner, understand that for the Republican Party to win presidential elections in the future we can no longer be the party of the deep South and Prairie Midwest," said Trey Walker, a South Carolina native who oversaw McCain's Virginia campaign. "If we don't start appealing to [minorities], we are going to continue to lose." (bold added for emphasis). 

Whether the Republican Party can start to speak effectively to the multi-racial America of the 21st century will be one of the most important questions in American politics in the coming years.  I think this job will be much harder than many understand for the foundation of the modern GOP - and the key to their success in recent decades - has been the exploitation of racial grievence.   Willie Horton, welfare queens, tax and spend, deporting undocumenteds - it has all been about exploiting white fears of the racial other in American life.  As I wrote earlier this year in an essay, On Obama, Race and the End of the Southern Strategy, demographic changes in America were making this type of politics a 20th anachronism whether Barack Obama became President or not.  With him as leader, there will also now be a moral challenge to this core play in the GOP playbook - for how will this society, this culture, allow the dog-whistle, wink and nod racial politics of the Southern Strategy era with a bi-racial man as President?  

While you will hear many Republicans echo Mr. Walker above, and call for their Party to get right with America's emerging demographic realities, I don't know if they understand how fundamental a rethink this is going to require.  Just three years ago the GOP House passed a bill calling for the arrest and deportation of 5 percent of the American work force - 10-12 million people, 10-12 million largely Hispanic people.  How they move from this politics of Nixon to a politics more fitting of Lincoln is going to be a transformation remarkable to behold - and almost unimaginable today. 

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