While Harold Evans and Gloria
Steinem rail at Ralph Nader for supposedly denying Al Gore
his rightful inheritance, New Democrat apologists like Andrew
Sullivan ascribe the Vice Presidents failure to his
sudden turn to the left. "Gores candidacy,"
Sullivan wrote just before the election, "is simply
too liberal for the country. After a career of extreme moderation,
Gore chose the most important campaign of his life to run
as Ted Kennedy
And Gores newfound leftism is
almost perfectly designed to scare the independent voters
he so badly needs." No doubt Democratic Leadership
Council types will spend the next four years parroting this
mantra and urging the party to saddle itself with a Clinton
clone. Yet Sullivans analysis does not bear serious
ones view of Gore I cannot stand him he
did as well in this election as any Democrat since Jimmy
Carter in 1976, and perhaps even since LBJ in 1964. Gores
real problem stemmed from the Reform Party. Or, rather,
from Pat Buchanans failure to capture any of Perots
supporters. Perot won 8 percent of the vote four years ago.
That vote broke by more than 2 to 1 in favor of Bush. Buchanan
managed to win only 1 percent of Perots voters.
won 49 percent of the popular vote same as Clinton
in 96 while also fighting Nader off on the Left.
He won more votes than Bush, who faced no serious challenge
to his right.
the long-term outlook for the Democrats is far brighter
than it is for Republicans. The Democrats have proven themselves
extremely adept at holding onto their voting base. Gore
made serious inroads into traditional Republican constituencies,
while Bush failed to make any headway with the Democratic
voting blocs. Take the most secure Republican voters imaginable:
the very rich. Those earning over $100,000 preferred Bush
to Gore by 54 percent to 43 percent a handy, but not
an especially impressive, margin. In 1996 those earning
over $100,000 went for Dole by 54 percent to 38 percent.
In other words, the Republican vote remained the same, while
the Democrats had made up some ground.
are no comparable Republican breakthroughs among traditional
Democratic voters. Despite all the inane and cheery talk
of "diversity" and "inclusiveness" at
the Republican Convention, this year the Republicans made
their worst showing ever among blacks. Blacks went for Gore
by 90 percent to 9 percent. This was worse than 1992 when
Clinton beat Bush the Elder by 82 to 11 percent, and 1996
when he beat Dole by 84 to 12. Nixon in 1972 had managed
to win 18 percent of the black vote. There was grim news
as well on the Jewish front. Gore beat Bush 79 to 19 percent.
Clinton had beaten Dole 78 to 16 in 1996. So W made some
progress. But its a far cry from 1988, when his father
managed to win 35 percent of the Jewish vote.
year the Republicans made a determined effort to make inroads
among Hispanics. They took out ads on Spanish-speaking television.
Young George P. Bush, Ws nephew, spoke in Spanish
at the convention and talked of "fight[ing] for our
race." The upshot is that Gore still trounced Bush
62 to 35 percent among Hispanics. Gore even beat Bush among
Hispanics in Texas 54 to 43 percent. To be sure, Bush did
do better than Dole, who only managed a miserable 21 percent
in 1996. Yet he did not do better than Nixon, who won 35
percent of the Hispanic vote in 1972. Even Reagan secured
37 percent in 1984.
is a real problem for the Republicans. According to the
website Hispanic Trends, foreign-born Hispanics today comprise
45 percent of Hispanic voters. "There is now little
doubt that foreign-born Hispanics will become a clear majority
of this electorate by the 2004 presidential election
Gore receives his strongest level of support from new
immigrants foreign-born Hispanic voters who became
citizens after 1994." The Census Bureau estimates that
Hispanics will comprise 17 percent of the population by
2020. Blacks are estimated to be about 13 percent of the
population. Therefore, almost a third of the electorate
will be unshakably Democratic in every election.
to whom should the Republicans appeal? Well, there are men.
Bush beat Gore 53 to 42 percent among men. Yet Gore held
his own. Clinton only won 43 percent of the male vote in
96. He did better than Carter in 80, who won
only 36 percent; better than Dukakis in 88, who won
41 percent; better even than Clinton in 92, who also
won 41 percent. Bushs 53 percent sounds impressive
compared to Doles feeble 44 percent. Yet it is far
worse than the 57 percent won by his father in 88,
or the 62 percent won by Reagan in 84. Moreover, the
Republican advantage among men is offset by their disadvantage
among women. Among women, Gore beat Bush 54 to 43 percent.
Gores 54 percent was the same as Clintons in
96. But it was better than Clintons 46 percent
in 92; or Dukakiss 49 percent; or Carters
50 percent in 76. Bushs 43 percent is certainly
better than Doles 38 percent, but it is worse than
his fathers 50 percent in 88, and even Gerald
Fords 48 percent in 76.
troubling for the Republicans is their inability to win
voters who should be their natural constituency. Fourteen
percent of the population identify themselves as "white
religious right." Eighteen percent of them voted for
Gore. Thirteen percent of Americans believe abortion should
always be illegal. Twenty-two percent of them voted for
Gore. Twenty-seven percent believe that abortion should
be "mostly illegal. Twenty-nine percent of them voted
for Gore. Gore supports partial-birth abortions. Yet he
beat Bush 50 to 47 percent among Catholics. Thirteen percent
of American voters believe Bush is "too liberal."
Yet 81 percent of them voted for Gore, 15 percent for Bush
and only 1 percent for Buchanan. By contrast, of the 9 percent
who believe Gore is "too conservative," 42 percent
voted for Bush, 45 percent for Gore and 10 percent for Nader.
Bush becomes president or not, the Republicans will have
to come up with an agenda to inspire their natural voters,
otherwise they are heading for oblivion.