Election 2010 And The Unmentionable Sailer Strategy: White Vote Still Key

The 2010 mid-term elections were a dramatic reversal from the 2008 Presidential election year. But current commentary is losing sight of that—because it had looked like the election could have been even bigger, particularly for patriotic immigration reformers. Richard Hoste, among the most brilliant of younger commentators, has even suggested sadly that Sharron Angle's loss to Senator Harry Reid in Nevada calls into question what VDARE.COM has called the "Sailer Strategy"—the idea that inreach to its white base, not outreach to minorities, is the key to future GOP success. I disagree.

Let's recap what happened,

Governors: As of my writing this, some 36 hours after all the polls had closed, Republicans had won 23 gubernatorial races, Democrats nine, independents one, and four were still up in the air.

State legislatures: Numbers are hazy at present, but Republicans supposedly took 500 legislative seats from Democrats. That will be important in the upcoming redistricting based on 2010 Census numbers, and in furnishing bench strength for future races.

Senators: Republicans won 23, Democrats 12, with Alaska still not called.

House: Republicans have won 239 races, Democrats 186, with ten yet to be decided.

"House Democrats lost more than half of the land mass they once held." [A Humbling Loss for Obama: How it Happened, by Katy Couric, CBSnews.com, November 3, 2010] The bright red Congressional districts on this map represent Democratic losses in 2010.

(In other words, the historic Republican House advances of 2010 occurred largely in the less densely populated parts of the country. This was as predicted by my theory of Affordable Family Formation. Back in the 1750s, Benjamin Franklin pointed out that the less crowded the country, the lower the land prices and the higher the wages. That means that more people can afford, and at younger ages, to get married and have children. The 21st Century partisan corollary to Franklin's insight: "The party of family values" thrives most where and when family formation is most affordable. The political implication: urbanizing more and more of the country through mass immigration is bad for Republicans. But Republican politicians have been remarkably slow to grasp that concept.)

It's important to remember: this strong Republican performance in the 2010 mid-term elections wasn't supposed to be demographically possible anymore. After 2008, the whole country was supposed to have become like California—where, indeed, Republicans were mostly thrashed on Tuesday. (One commenter has suggested Republicans could now label Democrats "the Party of California.")

The question was repeatedly asked after 2008: How could the GOP ever win again when the population becomes less white each year? (See CIS.org: Can Conservatism Survive Immigration? and VDARE.com: "Can Conservatism Survive... Ramesh Ponnuru And David Frum?")

Well, the answer is obvious, but only semi-mentionable in polite society: the GOP needs to do two things—get white people to turn out; and get them to vote Republican. This is the "Sailer Strategy".

That's how Republicans have long won in the South, where the white share of the population is already lower than California. (Outside of Florida, GOP candidates won all but a handful of Southern Congressional districts that weren't specifically gerrymandered to be majority minority.)

You'd prefer not to live in a country where whites vote like a minority bloc? Me too! But maybe we should have thought about that before putting whites on the long path to minority status through mass immigration.

In the GOP's 2002 and 2004 victories, whites turned out in large numbers and voted Republican by sizable margins—basically as a patriotic response to 9/11 and the subsequent Bush wars.

With the war going sour in 2006, however, the Republicans failed to hold their share of whites: Republican House candidates only won the white vote 51-47 and thus lost the House.

In 2008, McCain beat Obama by a mediocre 55-43 among whites. That's not awful, but McCain also didn't inspire whites to turn out to vote in large numbers, while Obama excited minorities and the callow. (In 2008, 11 percent of voters said it was their first time ever in a polling booth, compared to only three percent in 2010.)

As David Paul Kuhn, author of The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Party, pointed out in RealClearPolitics, the MainStream Media rewrote the history of 2008 in line with their worship of Obama. The forgotten truth: after picking Saran Palin as his veep, McCain led Obama in the Gallup Poll for the nine days preceding the epochal bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. on September 15, 2008, after which Obama regained the lead. But the Crash of 2008 didn't so much convert whites into Obama voters as depress them.

In 2010, in contrast, GOP House candidates crushed Democratic House candidates 60-37 among white voters. And minorities had a hard time getting interested in a non-Presidential contest lacking in personalities and Will.I.Am videos.

The GOP picked up 91 percent of its votes among whites—in contrast to the Democrats' 65 percent.

In other words, nation-wide the Sailer Strategy is triumphing. I argued that the most practical path to victory for the GOP was to get more white votes. And that's exactly what it did. Obama, not least with his extraordinary attack on Arizona's universally popular SB 1070, helped.

What about specific states?

The two biggest governor's races—California and Texas—also illustrate the Sailer Strategy in action. In California, Hispanics and blacks together accounted for just 31 percent of the voters—compared to 30 percent in Texas. In California, Democrat Jerry Brown won Latinos 64-30. Democrat Bill White carried them 61-38 in Texas.

(Interesting side note: as Hispanics become more dominant in California's Democratic Party, blacks have been trending slightly more Republican. Among blacks, Meg Whitman lost only 77-21, while Rick Perry lost 88-11. As I've argued, immigration will cause problems for the Democrats too)

Adding blacks and Hispanics together, Rick Perry did slightly worse with the Non-Asian Minority vote in Texas, losing it 73-26, than in Meg Whitman did in California, where she lost 68-27.

Why, then, did Perry cruise to a 55-42 victory in Texas, while Whitman failed 41-54 in California?

Answer: because Perry won the Texas white vote 69-28. In contrast, Whitman only edged out Brown 50-46 among California whites.

Moral: If a Republican candidate can't win a majority of whites, he or she can't win the election.

(The most politically relevant basic difference between California and Texas: the price of land. Texas has cheap housing relative to its income, but California is expensive. That has profound effects on the political cultures of the two states that we are only beginning to understand. For example, Texas tends to attract young white families while California sheds them.

(Nevada falls in between California and Texas. Although it looks empty, much of the land is locked up from development by lack of water, federal ownership, Indian reservations, nuclear bomb testing, nuclear waste storage, UFO storage, and so forth. Land prices surged in Nevada during the Housing Bubble, and then collapsed with the worst default rates in the country.)

So what about Nevada?

Contrary to predictions after her nomination, Tea Partier Sharron Angle made a real race of it against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Polls showed her ahead right to the end. But then—in a development that requires explanation—Reid triumphed 50-45.

Instantly, the conventional wisdom congealed like this (from Politico, November 3, 2010):

Hispanics saved the Dems

"Luis Gutierrez is pushing Harry Reid today to return to immigration legislation, on the grounds that Hispanic voters saved his hide. 

"Reid got an amazing 90% of the state's 12% Hispanic voters, according to exit polls; Sharron Angle got just 8%." 

Needless to say, Democrats (and the MSM) will read into Nevada the confirmation they desire: their long-running strategy of racializing the immigration debate—is the right one. Republican immigration enthusiasts and Hispanic consultants will urge their party not to respond.

But that 90-8 split among Nevada Hispanics turned out to be…a typo.

As of early Thursday morning, CNN's website says the breakdown was actually a more ho-hum 68-30. That's roughly the same as the Whitman and Fiorina races in California, although both ran away from the immigration issue.

Of course, this will make no difference to the CW—just as irrefutable proof that Bush did not win 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004 hasn't stopped Karl Rove (and the MSM) from repeating that myth either.

(The result out of Nevada that really interests me: Asians going 79-19 for Reid, in contrast to a more typical 59-34 margin for Democrat Barbara Boxer in neighboring California. I don't know what the story is behind that.)

Angle's real problem: she won whites 53-41, but (maybe for reasons to do with her own personality) that wasn't a Texas-sized enough margin.

So what drove the result in Nevada? Why did Nevadans return their state's longtime Provider of Pork to the center of power in Washington instead of anointing an outsider who has a philosophical aversion to Bringing Home the Bacon?

Could it be possible that some residents of Las Vegas are less motivated by principle than by money? I know it sounds crazy. But I think we have consider that disillusioning possibility about Vegasites.

 It's significant that, in contrast to Nevada, the statewide politician most closely associated with this year's immigration controversy over SB1070, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, ran for election as governor on her own for the first time. She lost among Latinos 71-28. But she carried whites 60-36. And she won the state 55-42.

Similarly, the sponsor of SB1070, Russell Pearce, was re-elected to the Arizona state senate on Tuesday, as the Republican majority in that body grew from 18 to 21 out of 30. He was elected president of the state senate on Wednesday.

More Thoughts:

  • The relative unimportance of the celebrated gender gap.

Remember the gender gap? On Tuesday, white men voted Republican 63-35—and white women voter Republican too, 58-40.

Much more important recently than the gender gap has been the marriage gap. In 2008, McCain won 50 percent of the votes of married women, but only 29 percent of unmarried women.

Yet this year's exit poll didn't bother to ask voters if they were married!

  • Catholics surged from only 42 percent Republican in 2008 to 54 percent in 2010.

That's partly due to the reduced Hispanics turnout. But among non-Hispanic whites, Catholic voters voted Republican 59-39.

Which is a significant change from the 2002 midterms, when Republicans kept the House despite getting only 50 percent of the white Catholic vote.

The Ricci and Crowley imbroglios of 2009 obviously didn't help Obama with northern white Catholics.

  • Educated voters aren't necessarily Democrats.

Democrats take vast pride in being more educated than Republicans. But it's never terribly evident in the data. In 2010, Democrat voters reported an average of two weeks more schooling than Republican voters. (The mean Democrat asserted he had made it through 2.91 years of college versus 2.88 years for the typical Republican—a trivial difference.)

In comparison, when the GOP got drubbed in 2006, Republicans averaged a week more in the classroom, perhaps because their dimmer bulbs didn't remember to turn out that year. When the Republicans won in 2002, they had better education statistics than the Democrats.

My views: in general, education levels seem to be a wash. Parties need to both motivate the less educated to show up at the polls (because they need votes) and appeal to the more educated to vote for them (because educated supporters are better for your prestige). It's hard to do both simultaneously, but you have to try.

  • One obvious 2010 theme: Buyers' remorse over the 2008 Presidential election.

In the exit poll, 37 percent said their House vote expressed opposition to Obama versus only 24 percent who said it expressed support.

The MainStream Media so flagrantly covered up the real Obama in 2007-2008 that many naïve voters were surprised and displeased to discover in 2009-2010 that he was a black liberal from Chicago of underwhelming personality. (They should have read my America's Half Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story Of Race And Inheritance."!)

Obama got to be President for the same reason George W. Bush got to be President: because of who his daddy was.

Just as the younger Bush's career would have stalled out at about the regional sales manager level if he hadn't been the son of George H.W. Bush, if everything else about Obama were the same except his father hadn't been black, where would a white Obama be today? Teaching poly sci? Getting laid off from his copyediting job at Harper's?

The President is a bright man, but not a big man. He lacks energy, empathy, and an adequate sense of skepticism about all the praise he's been showered with over the years.

The elite white press went soft in the head over Obama because of the one thing that you aren't supposed to think about intelligently: race. They liked him because He's black! (But, he's not, you know, black …)

To the DC press corps, extravagantly hyping a black candidate proved you were better than other white people. More subtly, hyping Obama, who grew up sequestered thousands of miles away from any black community, was also intended to furnish blacks with a role model of nice white liberal behavior. Obama was the One the MSM had been waiting for.

But that kind of double bankshot theorizing just seemed silly after Obama got in office and had to start dealing with real national problems. Obama's skill set is attuned to impressing white people who have just met him enough to give him a promotion —hence his Nobel Prize from the Norwegians, But there aren't any more sinecures left for him to fail upward into.

  • But Republican politicians have not become terribly popular either.

Among voters on Tuesday, only 42 percent expressed a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, which was actually below the 43 percent approval rating they gave the Democratic Party whom they were "shellacking" (as Obama put it).

Republicans seemed to do better the more they simply remained the abstract embodiment of Not Obamaness.

The more personally conspicuous Republican candidates made themselves, such as Meg Whitman in California, who spent a fortune in paid media, or Angle in Nevada and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, who were given abundant free media by a hostile press corps, the more they seemed to underperform. (Indeed, women in general did poorly, with the number of Congresswomen apparently falling, which would be the first decline in three decades.)

Whitman wound up doing slightly worse in the governor's race than her fellow Silicon Valley executive Carly Fiorina did in the Senate race—even though Fiorina, who has been battling the after-effects of cancer, maintained a much lower profile.

  • What about 2012?

My prediction: Obama, an adulation addict, will likely be psychologically down for a few months. But he could come back strong if the economy turns around. He remains well situated to win the Electoral College in 2012, with the almost 200 votes of the Northeast, Illinois, and the West Coast as his base.

In contrast, the Republicans need to win Ohio in 2012's Presidential race, and would very much like to win New Jersey.

That puts Republican governors John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey into the national ticket discussion.

Granted, none of the above electoral analysis has much of anything to do with what Republicans actually do after getting elected.

President Obama told Spanish-language Univision that his political philosophy is, "We're going to punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends…"

Personally, I don't care much about the "punish our enemies" part.

But Republicans need to start thinking, finally, about how they are finally going to "reward our friends".

My suggestions: what about an immigration moratorium? Abolishing birthright citizenship? Restricting Affirmative Action to African Americans?

And what about opposing the Democrats' incessant efforts to racialize the immigration issue by appealing to Hispanic citizens as American citizens on the basis of what's best for Americans—rather than as members of an alien racial bloc?

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]