GOP Oblivion
George Szamuely
New York Press


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 President’s failure to his sudden turn to the left. "Gore’s 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 Gore’s 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 Sullivan’s analysis does not bear serious scrutiny.

Whatever one’s 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. Gore’s real problem stemmed from the Reform Party. Or, rather, from Pat Buchanan’s failure to capture any of Perot’s 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 Perot’s voters.

Gore 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.

Moreover, 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.

There 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 it’s a far cry from 1988, when his father managed to win 35 percent of the Jewish vote.

This year the Republicans made a determined effort to make inroads among Hispanics. They took out ads on Spanish-speaking television. Young George P. Bush, W’s 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.

This 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.

So 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. Bush’s 53 percent sounds impressive compared to Dole’s 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. Gore’s 54 percent was the same as Clinton’s in ’96. But it was better than Clinton’s 46 percent in ’92; or Dukakis’s 49 percent; or Carter’s 50 percent in ’76. Bush’s 43 percent is certainly better than Dole’s 38 percent, but it is worse than his father’s 50 percent in ’88, and even Gerald Ford’s 48 percent in ’76.

More 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.

Whether 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.

Read George Szamuely's Exclusive Column

Archived Columns by George Szamuely from the New York Press

GOP Oblivion

What Gridlock?

Hard Times Coming

The Anti-Gore

Who’s to Blame?

Milosevic Robbed

He Dared To Differ

Closed Ballots

Kicking Dick

Whore on Drugs

Soros' World

The Good Lieberman

Nader-Buchanan 2000

W's Oil Warriors

Rupert's Hillary

The Veep's No VIP

Hollow Mexico

Death of Innocents

NATO's Home Free

Poll Attacks

Israel's Powerful Friends

Defense Against What?

God Bless Rehnquist!

Long, Hillary Summer

Communicating Power

Law as Ordered

What Threat?

Peculiar Yet Brave

Closed to Debate

Arrogance of Power

Prison Love

Gore's Oil

Rough Justice

Race Race

Al the Coward

Intruder Alert

McCain's Money

Haider Seek

Out of Africa

Prosecute NATO

Villain or Victim?

Intervention, Immigration, and Internment

Home-Grown Terrorism

Who Benefits?

Laws of Return

Embassy Row

Selling Snake Oil

Chinese Puzzle

That Was No Lady, That Was the Times

The Red Tide Turning?

Pat & The Pod

United Fundamentalist States

Let Them All Have Nukes!

Liar, Liar

Gangster Nations

Puerto Rico Libre – and Good Riddance

Leave China Alone

A World Safe for Kleptocracy

Proud To Be Un-American

All articles reprinted with permission from the New York Press


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