Kicking Barone While He's Down

At a time when everybody knows that everything changed forever on September 11, it may seem odd to review a book that's the epitome of politics-as-was-usual: Michael Barone's latest Almanac of American Politics. Yet, politics has a way of flowing onward. Recall how the Senate Democrats made fools of themselves in January of 1991 by voting 45 to 7 to not go to war against Saddam Hussein "in order to give the sanctions time to work." Well, it's 2001 now and the Iraq sanctions are still partly in place and still haven't worked. But that didn't stop the Democrats from twenty months later winning the Presidency, the Senate, and the House. Like life, politics goes on.

Last June, when Barone and the rest of the "open borders" crowd ruled the airwaves and the column inches almost unopposed, I devoted a lot of effort to explaining exactly what was wrong with Barone's mass immigrationist fantasy The New Americans. Times have changed, but not Barone's mistakes. So now it's time to kick the man while he's down.

This is not to say anything against Barone's Almanac in general. This year's edition is an amazing book, even from a bookbinder's perspective: the brute is 1776 pages long.

Barone takes a dozen or so pages to profile the geography, economy, demography, and statewide politics of each of the 50 states. Then, he delivers two or three highly informative pages on each of America's 435 Congressional districts, each of which he has personally visited.

For political junkies, this is the ultimate resource. For anybody else, though, it might bring to mind the little girl's book report: "This book taught me more about penguins than I care to know."

Barone is not unbiased, of course, and there's the problem. He is best known for trumpeting two opinions. The first is his sunny optimism that his beloved Republican Party will ultimately triumph: "Demography is moving, slowly, toward the Bush nation," he gloats in the new book.

The second is his unabashed cheerleading for massive levels of immigration. How does he attempt to logically reconcile his two passions?

Well, as far as I can tell, Barone doesn't even bother to try.

For example, Barone enthusiastically reports that my personal Congressperson, Howard Berman of California's San Fernando Valley, is "one of the most aggressive and creative members of the House - and one of the most clear-sighted operators in American politics." As evidence of Berman's clear-sightedness, Barone recounts a half dozen battles Berman has waged for more immigration. I totally agree with Barone on Berman's perceptiveness. My Congressman is a bright, logical guy who knows what's in his best interest. (The one time I met Berman, I was a know-it-all 16-year-old and he was an ambitious young state legislator in California. I sprang on him an argument I'd been researching for months for high school debate. He just annihilated my line of attack.)

There's only one logical problem with Barone's Berman-worship: Barone is a Republican and Rep. Berman is a Democrat. So, if Berman is "clear-sighted" to favor more immigration because it will boost the Democratic Party, what does that make Barone: Mr. Magoo?

Barone's bias in favor of mass immigration leads him into sizable factual mistakes that he wouldn't normally make if he weren't so emotionally invested in the issue. For example, he writes:  

"Nationally, Asians voted 55%-41% for Gore. But most of this margin came in Hawaii, where Gore won 62% of the Asian majority in the state. In California, the vote was 49%-48% for Gore, and Asian voters appear to have been equally divided in the other 48 states as well."

George Will, who at least twice this year has churned out columns that are simply rewrites of Barone's material, repeated this canard almost word for word in his May 20th column, "Conservatism by the Numbers: Looking Up:"

"Already Bush is essentially breaking even with Asian-Americans in California, where they were 49-48 for Gore, and in 48 other states. Gore's 55-41 advantage among Asian-Americans nationally came almost entirely from Hawaii."

This myth is based on a Voter News Service website posting for California that's almost certainly wrong, possibly merely a typo. (You may recall that VNS had a notoriously bad election in 2000. For example, it first called Florida for Gore, then for Bush, before finally correctly labeling it too close to call.)

Barone, who knows as many election statistics as Bill James knows baseball statistics, must have understood that his rationalization that, all by its lonesome, little Hawaii had distorted the national Asian results was prima facie nonsense. Hawaii is a tiny state. According to the Census Bureau's survey of 50,000 households right after the 2000 election, Hawaii contributed only 11% of all Asian voters nationwide. If you exclude Hawaii from the VNS exit poll numbers, 7th grade math shows that Gore's Asian margin falls merely from 55%-41% to 54%-42%.

In contrast to VNS, the LA Times exit poll reported that Asians nationally voted 62%-37% for Gore, and California Asians gave Gore an even bigger 63% to 33% margin over Bush.  

I asked Don Nakanishi, director of the Asian American Studies program at UCLA, which poll to trust: VNS or the LA Times? His answer: "The LA Times exit poll is more sensitive to the difficulties inherent in surveying ethnically diverse voters."

Two local polls validated the LA Times' finding of a big Democratic advantage among California's Asians. Exit surveys conducted in Southern California by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center saw Gore winning among Asians 62% to 35%. In San Francisco, the Chinese American Voter Education Committee recorded that Chinese-Americans there voted 82% to 16% for Gore.

Obviously, Barone has to work through some deep emotional issues regarding immigration before Republicans can trust him on the topic.

So what in the world is Barone talking about when he says "demography" is on the GOP's side? He has two arguments, one laughable, the other intriguing. The first is:

"[T]he communities of the Bush nation tend to welcome growth while the communities of the Gore nation tend to limit it: California's culturally conservative Central Valley is growing faster than the culturally liberal San Francisco Bay area. … The fastest-growing parts of the United States are formerly rural counties on the metropolitan fringe … these counties tend to vote strongly Republican."

Well, so what? Does Barone expect us to believe that the Central Valley's soil give off mind-expanding Republican Rays? Is there some kind of political Valley Fever virus that automatically Republicanizes the African Americans who are driven from immigrant-inundated Oakland into the Central Valley?

I'm sorry, but that's not how the world works. People take their politics with them when they move.

Remember how Vermont was so famously rock-ribbed Republican that it voted for Alf Landon in 1936? ("As goes Maine, so goes Vermont," laughed FDR's consigliore, Jim Farley.) Not anymore. "But [Vermont] has been transformed by newcomers," as Barone rightly notes, "who came here attracted to its antique look but have transformed its culture in their own image." Vermont's Ben and Jerry's-scarfing newcomers are, of course, affluent liberals from New York and other big cities who found that moving to the whitest state in the Union helped them avoid doubts about their multiculturalist ideology.

Similarly, the Republican voters driven out of California by immigration turned states like Idaho into GOP strongholds.

Electorally, this kind of internal migration is mostly a wash. It just moves native Republicans and Democrats around; it doesn't change their numbers. (It has a minor impact on the Senate and the Electoral College - because small states like Vermont and Idaho are more favored under the Constitution than big states like New York and California - but this effect is small.) In contrast, immigration, overall, creates new Democrats.

Barone's other argument for why the demographic tide is flowing in favor of the GOP is probably wrong, but at least it's not plain stupid. "The Americans of the Bush nation tend to have more children than the Americans of the Gore nation."

This is a brave thing to say, but Barone's not brave enough to state what he probably really means, which would be, "Republican whites have more babies than Democratic whites." I'm glad he's picked up on this topic that I wrote about in the first half of last year, in a VDARE.com piece entitled "Will Liberals Become Extinct?" In fact, late last year, I calculated that the 19 states with the highest white birth rate all voted for Bush.

Yet how important is this difference in white birth rates? I can't really say. With the exception of Utah, which is off the fecundity charts, the difference in white fertility between Bush states and Gore states really isn't huge. The states where Bush won a majority in 2000 had a 16% higher birth rate than the states where Gore and Nader combined won the majority.

Of course, looking at Bush states vs. Gore states is just an approximation. The actual difference between Republican and Democrat fertility is probably somewhat larger, but how big it is I can't say. To the best of my knowledge, it has never been studied. If anyone knows of any data on the subject, please write me at SteveSlr@aol.com.

Yet even though Barone is correct about the greater fecundity of Bush's white voters, it's by no means certain that the "Bush nation" actually is having more children than the "Gore nation." That's because birth rates among minorities, who voted heavily for Gore, are much higher than among whites. Among babies born in 2000, almost 42% were born to mothers who aren't Anglo whites. (To see the U.S. government's PDF file with all this data, click here.)

Roughly half of those minority babies were born to Hispanic women. Hispanics have a birthrate 80% higher than Anglo whites. The other half of minority babies is black, American Indian, or Asian/Pacific Islander. All three groups have birthrates from 20% to 22% greater than Anglo whites.

In 2000, Bush got over 90% and Gore about 70% of his vote from Anglo whites. These higher birthrate patterns, when combined with immigration, however, will tend to gradually polarize the two parties racially. In a few decades, the Republicans are likely to be undeniably The White Party and the Democrats The Nonwhite Party.

Will this be a healthy development?  Sam Francis appears to be looking forward to this outcome. Perhaps Barone has a Machiavellian plan in mind to use heavy immigration to drive whites out of the Democratic Party and into his Republican Party. I don't know. It seems unlikely, but it's the only logical way to reconcile his two passions.

Personally, I'm leery of this kind of political polarization along race lines. It may be inevitable, but shouldn't we try to explore ways as a nation to head this off?

Democrats would of course suggest that the onus is on Republicans to recruit more nonwhites. They say this because they want the GOP to commit suicide chasing the chimera of conservative-voting minorities. As we saw this summer with Bush's silly illegal alien amnesty proposal, the GOP has no practical way to outbid the Democrats for minority groups. As I predicted last January, the only minorities the GOP's diversity outreach effort had a good shot at picking up were Arabs and Muslims (by easing anti-terrorist rules). That ploy has proved a mistake.

There is only one practical way to slow the growth of the racial chasm that's opening between the parties: by cutting immigration. Maybe Barone will manage to face this in time for his Almanac's 2004 edition.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]

October 13, 2001