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In the 1988 American presidential election, 60%
In order to take the presidency of the United States, a candidate must win in the electoral college. Don’t make me explain the electoral college to you. Ok, fine, I will.
Each state is allotted a number of electoral votes equal to its number of congressional seats (House Representative + Senators). Additionally, the District of Columbia gets three electoral votes. That gives us 538 electoral college votes (435 House members + 100 Senators + 3 for DC). A presidential candidate wins all of a state’s electoral votes by winning more of that state’s popular votes than any other candidate. So, in a two-candidate race, if a candidate wins 60% of the vote in California on election day, he/she gets all of California’s 55 electoral votes. The same would be true if he/she won 65%, or 59%, or 50.0001%.
In order to become president, a candidate must win more than 50% of the electoral votes, or 270 of the 538 available. How many states a candidate wins, or whether or not he/she wins the popular vote nationwide is irrelevant. In fact, if a candidate only won the majority of votes in each of the nation’s 9 largest states, while losing the other 41 (and DC), he/she would become president. The electoral college is weird. It’s funky. Kooky. Bizarre. But this article is not about the electoral college. It’s about something else.
As I was saying, in the 1988 American presidential election, 60% of white voters cast their ballots for Republican candidate George H.W. Bush. He ended up winning 426 electoral votes, or 79% of them. That margin of victory is quite impressive.
In the 2012 American presidential election, 59% of white voters cast their ballots for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. He ended up winning 206 electoral votes, or 38% of them. That margin of defeat is quite upsetting. Barack Obama won only 41% of the white vote, while taking the 332 electoral votes Romney didn’t win and scoring a quite decisive victory. In 2012, President Obama also won 83% of the black vote, 71% of the Latino vote, and 73% of the Asian vote. Barack (Hussein) Obama also won 100% of the Muslim American vote, and even though there are no official statistics to confirm that, trust me, it happened.
For some time, the Democrats have done well among nonwhites in presidential elections. And not just sort of well. Really well. That mostly comes from the Democratic Party’s overall strategy of including minorities and denouncing xenophobia. Republicans, on the other hand, have been generally reticent to exclude potential voters who have supremacist and racist views. That is not to say that all Republicans are racists, but that is to say that when racists do decide to back one of the two major political parties, they become Republicans.
But that’s not the whole story. According to the United States Census Bureau, by 2042, whites will constitute less than 50% of the American population. Nonwhite populations are growing, and the white vote is far less decisive than just 28 years ago, as the 1988 and 2012 presidential elections tell us. Couple that with the fact that nonwhites and second-generation immigrants (which are almost totally nonwhite) are experiencing higher rates of voter registration and participation, and you end up with an American electorate that looks fundamentally different and new.
Of course, the “brownification” of America, in and of itself, is not a problem at all (unless you believe in white supremacy). In fact, we should celebrate it. The Democrats seem to be doing just that, involving religious and ethnic minorities in their party and actually including nonwhites in leadership and advisory roles. The Republicans are conducting themselves in precisely the opposite way, blaming immigrants, scapegoating Muslims, and marginalizing people of color.
This is most evident during Trump’s events.
When scanning over a Trump rally, finding someone who doesn’t look like everyone else is like playing an unbelievably easy game “Where’s Waldo.” That’s why it was so simple for every Trump supporter (and every camera) to find Rose Hamid on January 6 at a Trump rally in Rock Hill, SC. You might remember Rose as the ousted Muslim at that Trump event for being a Muslim at that Trump event. She was not holding a sign. She was not chanting. She was just standing there, like everyone else. Until everyone else saw her and collectively said to themselves, “What the hell is she doing here?”
About a month ago, CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein described Trump’s success as follows:
“The core of the Trump phenomenon is how much of the Republican base is deeply unsettled and antagonistic, I think, toward the culture and demographic change remaking America.”
That is a quite artful way of saying they are racist. And they’re winning. The Republican Party might as well adopt a slogan that reflects its present ideals. I have a few suggestions:
Ok, I’ll stop. But Republicans need to heed the numbers. From 1976 until 1992, white voters constituted between 86-89% of the electorate. Since then, things have changed. In 1996, 83% of voters were white. In 2000, 81% were white. It went down to 77% in 2004. In 2008, the number dipped to 74%. And by 2012, the proportion of white voters had dropped to 72% of all who cast a ballot. And as the years go on, the percentage will continue to drop, because as I have said before, if America were the Titanic, it hit the brown iceberg long ago.
If the Republicans insist on being the party of white Americans who feel they are “losing their country” (which, of course, is not “theirs” to begin with), they will never win another presidential election in our new America. For Republicans, denouncing xenophobia and nativism might have to be much less about “political correctness” and much more about survival. If it continues to disregard the demographically-remade American electorate of today, the Republican Party will soon be closing up shop.
*All presidential election statistics in this article (except the 100% Muslim vote number) were provided by the Roper Center at Cornell University