Some South Carolina Republicans are seeking a party rule change to prevent Democrats and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) from participating in the state’s nominating process, which is currently an open primary - meaning anyone can participate. The change would allow the GOP nominees to be chosen at the state convention rather than through a primary. The rule is necessary - according to its proponents - to ensure that true conservatives are chosen as their nominees. The rule change would certainly doom the interest in, and importance of (alleged), South Carolina as the first Southern primary, as the rule change opponents allege. Of course, this isn’t important to the proponents as maintaining ideological purity. They’ll need 75 percent of the state convention delegates to approve the rule change for it to be effective. If it is approved, the reaction from the RNC and the state parties should be interesting.
Brookings and the Public Religion Research Institute have released a new report on their survey of American views on immigration. They found 63 percent believe some path to citizenship should be created for illegal immigrants, as opposed to 21 percent supporting deportation. Majorities of all religious groups support a path to citizenship. And majorities of both parties support a path. However, Americans do not rank immigration highly in priority for Congress and the President. You can read the full report here.
Texas Tribune & the Texas Politics Project looked at support among Republicans for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Source). Forty-four percent of Texas Republicans strongly oppose reform. Interestingly, TX Republicans identifying with the TEA Party support reform. Have a look at the numbers here.
I have written about the recent GOP push on immigration reform and the political reasons behind that move (here), and the New York Times offers a look at which House Republicans might vote in favour a reform effort based on the size of the Hispanic electorate in each district.
However, pushing for reform and moving the debate in the Republicans favour is only half the story in a GOP appeal to Hispanic voters. The other is a consistent outreach effort like that of Pres Obama’s campaign, as well as those of Sens Reid and Bennett (Source).
The Texas Republican Party has begun that effort in the state (in reality an effort that has been revived from the previous efforts), as well as endorsing a guest worker program in the 2012 party platform (Source). The GOP in Texas has received 30-40 percent of the Hispanic vote for a number of years now, and the outreach efforts should keep that percentage fairly consistent and keep the GOP competitive in Texas despite changes in demographics.
What could hurt over time is the perception of the national party’s stance on immigration, etc.; however, it would be premature to suggest the GOP will become uncompetitive.
In the wake of the 2012 Presidential election, there is one issue that may define the Republican Party moving forward: immigration. Some GOP pols have grasped this issue and are putting forward plans for immigration reform.
What’s driving this reassessment? According to Charlie Cook, it has to do with the Republican share of the vote among whites and minorities. In his article in GovExec, he notes that the white share of the vote has declined 15 percent in the last 6 elections, even as the GOP share of the white vote grows; however, the GOP share of the minority vote has gotten dismal, while population growth is greatest among minority populations. The GOP is also losing among younger voters and women.
Enter Marco Rubio and some other GOP politicians. Sen Rubio has introduced a new immigration reform bill bolstered by a coalition of Republicans who support an effort based largely on the 2007 comprehensive immigration reform legislation (Source). Jeb Bush and others are working on Hispanic outreach (Source), and George P. Bush, who is looking towards running for statewide office in Texas, has declared himself a moderate on immigration.
Whichever side wins this debate - the hardliners or the moderates - will have defined the GOP in the elections to come, as well as their chances of remaining a viable contender.
Since Tuesday, I’ve seen several comments about Romney winning the South. If you’re interested in the history of the demographic evolution leading to the South becoming Republican, I would recommend the following:
By no means is this list meant to be exhaustive, but there is a lot of good information in each that examines the statistics of demographic change in the South that lead to the region becoming Republican when it had so long been a Democratic stronghold.
The current demographic change in the U.S. is fascinating, and as we witness it, it helps to understand how demographic change affected the politics of different regions of the United States.
One of the things we’re already hearing a lot about, and will continue to hear about until the GOP convention, is the debate - or rather, guessing - over who Romney will pick as his Vice Presidential nominee.
Every four years, various members of the media ask the same old questions, one of which is whether or not certain VP candidates will help the nominee to win particular states, specifically the home state of the VP nominee.
In May 1989, Robert Dudley and Ronald Rapoport revealed some interesting statistics about the perceived importance of regional importance in selecting a Vice Presidential candidate - they noted that between 1952 and 1980, only 1 ticket did not show regional balance and between 1884 and 1984 only 5 out of 52 tickets were not regionally balanced (American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 537-540). Their study showed that in these elections the VP nominee only made a difference in 3 elections (1892, 1968 & 1980), and thus was not a significant factor in voter choice. Lee Sigelman and Paul Wahlbeck came to a similar conclusion in 1997 (American Political Science Review, Vol. 91, No. 4, pp. 855-864).
Recent polls would seem to confirm these studies. A poll by PPP showed that Romney received no bounce in Florida with Rubio hypothetically on the ticket (of course, PPP is a Democratic polling firm, and there have been accusations about bias in the past, but they have been fairly accurate during this primary cycle). Similarly, recent polling by Quinnipiac University shows that Ohio Senator Rob Portman would offer no help to Romney in this crucial swing state (Sources: CNN, Wall Street Journal).
After discussing the changing demographics of the United States at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Ruy Teixeira and Sean Trende spoke with Governing magazine about the political outcomes of those demographic trends (Source).
In the short term, those demographics favour the Democratic Party, because of the growing minority vote, white college graduates, the millennial generation and the disappearing white working class. Longer term, there could be a shift back to the right if “the economic well-being of Hispanics were to improve in the coming years,” because exit poll data shows that higher income Hispanics are more likely to vote Republican than other higher income minority voters. This is something I have discussed before here, and it’s a reasonable outcome to suppose, because we’ve seen it before as white voters in the South began to switch to the Republican Party as wealth and incomes began to rise.
A recent book by Cal Jillson - Lone Star Tarnished - discusses the importance of demographics in the future of Texas as the Anglo population has grown slower than the national population since 1980 and the Hispanic population grows faster than any other group in the state (Source). As Prof. Jillson notes in his book, how this effects the state will depend on the development of the Hispanic population (which is tied to the state’s infrastructure, such as public education). The effects are not just economic and social, but political as well, as both parties will be effected by the growth and development of Texas’ Hispanic population.