Whatever Happened to the Democrats' Youth/Minority Voter Juggernaut?

After the 2008 election, both the youth bloc and the minority bloc were widely lauded for turning out in large numbers to put Barack Obama in the White House.

Indeed, the MSM punditry conflated the young and the nonwhite into one overlapping harbinger of unbeatable Democratic hegemony in the rapidly-arriving demographic future—in contrast to those (nearly) dead white males who voted for John McCain.

Two years later, however, the future ain't what it used to be.

A September 3, 2010 Gallup Poll report is headlined: Blacks, Young Voters Not Poised for High Turnout on Nov. 2: Republicans—and conservative Republicans in particular—are already tuned in to midterms.

The Gallup survey found the decisive factor in this November's midterms is that the older, whiter, and maler you are, the more interested you are.

That wasn't true during the fatally inhibited (on the GOP side) 2008 campaign. According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of Hispanics age 18 to 24 who voted increased from 20.4 in 2004 to 27.4 in 2008. That was the highest young Hispanic turnout since 1972, before the vast wave of immigration made had the paradoxical effect of reducing the proportion of Hispanics active in American civic life. Turnout among young blacks and Asians was also up sharply. [Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History, Pew Research Center, April 30, 2009]

The 2008 exit poll found that 18 to 29-year-old Hispanics voted 76-19 for Obama. 18 to 29-year-old blacks 95-5. (The exit poll didn't cover the Asian vote.)

In contrast, although young whites dutifully voted for Obama 54-44, their turnout actually dropped slightly, from 2004 to 2008, from 48.5 percent of their possible total to just 48.3 percent. Apparently the choice between Obama and John McCain was just less galvanizing for young whites than it was for their nonwhite classmates.

The punditariat is always denouncing conservative voters as ignorant and unsophisticated. Yet the revival of apathy among Democratic blocs in 2010 shows that the Obama fad of 2008 actually dredged up some of the least savvy citizens ever to find their way to the voting booth.

The Democrats are paying the price for the MSM over-promoting Obama to minorities and youth as if he were the awesomest Will Smith Fourth of July-weekend blockbuster movie hero ever. Now that Obama's actually in office, he instead reminds them, vaguely, of that earnest adjunct professor who taught the boring Poly Sci 101 course at the community college that they dropped out of. Young people, minorities, and, especially, young minorities, have simply lost much of the interest in public affairs that they briefly displayed in 2008.

This suggests the medium-term strategy for Republicans for coping with demographic change: stand by your base.

Not surprisingly, that's the exact opposite of the line preached by mainstream analysts: that Republicans can't dare take an aggressive line with Obama or on immigration because they will then washed away by outraged young minority voters, who will never forget and never forgive the GOP for any disrespect toward Diversity. We've been instructed repeatedly by the press that Republicans must act gingerly upon any topic touching upon diversity—just as John McCain did.

But in 2010, that's sure not happening. Past GOP Establishment spokespersons like McCain, Bush, and Karl Rove are discredited. New, un-neutered grassroots leaders, such as Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, author of SB1070, have emerged. Long-forbidden topics, such as anchor babies, have surfaced. Public discussion of these issues has, as VDARE.COM has always predicted, fired up the GOP base.

But also, contrary to the conventional wisdom, this political incorrectness has not only failed to elicit an effective backlash from young minorities—it has also apparently heightened their apathy, causing some of them to lose interest in politics.

Look at this table:

Moreover, 42 percent of whites have been thinking about their civic duty, compared to only 25 percent of blacks and 25 percent of Latinos. And almost half of the public age 50 or over are contemplating the elections compared to merely 19 percent of the 18 to 29-year-olds.

(Gallup also found a sizable gender gap, although not the kind that the MSM likes to talk about: 45 percent of men have given some thought to the elections, compared to only 31 percent of women.)

From a historical perspective, there's nothing terribly surprising in the collapse of the vaunted liberal youth vote in these midterms. Young people don't vote much, and when they do, it's typically because they got worked up over personalities during Presidential elections. Here are turnout percentages from the Census Bureau's post-election surveys:

Young people (the orange line) were fired up, relatively speaking, over George McGovern in 1972, Bill Clinton in 1992, and Barack Obama in 2008. In contrast, old people (the green line) reliably showed up to vote in Presidential and midterm elections every year except the depressing Watergate year of 1974.

Young people simply have more enjoyable things to think about than public affairs: romance, music, friends, and who would win in a fight: Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man?

And this pattern of blowing off voting in off-years is particularly marked for young voters of recent immigrant stock. Hispanics and Asians became somewhat interested in the high turnout 2004 election, and went wild (compared to their traditional lack of participation) over voting for Obama in 2008:

In contrast, the turnout of young Hispanics and Asians is generally dismal in midterms:

Only about one out of ten 18-24 year old Hispanics and Asians show up to vote in off-years.

Of course, a large reason that many young people of immigrant ethnicities don't vote is because they can't vote. They're not citizens.

But that's not the only reason. Another is civic apathy. We can tell because, in sharp contrast to the Census Bureau's contention that it couldn't possibly dream of asking residents of the U.S. if they are citizens in the decennial Census, the Bureau always asks people in its post-election survey if they are citizens. It turns out that in the 2006 off-year election, looking at 18 to 24 year old citizens alone, turnout was 24 percent among whites versus 19 percent among blacks, 17 percent among Hispanics, and 15 percent among Asians.

Bottom line: the decline in the white share of the vote is happening slower than the decline in the white share of the population. But this is a lesson that many political strategists just can't seem to keep straight in their heads.

And, conversely, appealing to white interests does not automatically alienate minorities.

When you think about common human psychology, this shouldn't be surprising. For example, the press's notion that Latino voters would respond to Republican criticism of legal and illegal immigration with relentless resentment, with endless spite, is just another example of projection by the media elite.

The reality is that most nonwhites can't be bothered to feel as much racial hatred as the MSM demands they feel. They've got a life.

Instead, human beings generally try to associate themselves with what is being praised by society and disassociate themselves from what is being criticized. Being callow, young people are particularly impressionable. Despite all the romantic piffle about young rebels, the fact is that young people (especially the kind who are likely to vote) tend to be conformists. Hispanic and Asian youths are perhaps even more conformist than white and black youths.

When viewed from this perspective, the rise and fall of young Hispanic and Asian excitement over Obama's party in 2008 to 2010 makes sense. Voting for a black candidate for President was not an act of youthful rebellion for Hispanics and Asians, but of conformity to the endlessly spelled-out wishes of the respectable institutions of society: the media, the schools, and even, so far anybody could tell, the Republican nominee.

Similarly, if the President of the United States praises illegal immigrants (as George W. Bush did, saying "You're going to come here if you're worth your salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families") well, Viva La Raza!

But on the other hand, if white people continue to become ever so slightly less intimidated about publicly defending their own interests, well, Hispanic and Asian young people have more fun things to do with their time than worry about elections.

This implies a simple, effective strategy for the Republican Party—the opposite of that pursued by Bush, Rove, and McCain: Instead of appeasing professional minority activists and thus making them more powerful by letting them claim to be able to deliver goodies, stand up to them.

The GOP remains, overwhelmingly, a party whose most enthusiastic supporters are mature white men. Stop being ashamed of that fact. Show some self-respect. Stand up for the interests of your voters. Don't let ethnic hustlers bully your constituents so much.

The race racketeers can smell fear. Moreover, as a former young person, I can attest that young people care less about policy issues than that they want to be on a winning side. They are acutely sensitive to signs of weakness. The 2008 campaigns of Hillary Clinton and John McCain, with their terror of pulling the trigger on Obama's soft spot—his long involvement with Rev. Jeremiah Wright—were palpably abject, so they repelled the young. Young people won't invest their fragile egos in embarrassingly emasculated political campaigns.

Young blacks felt naturally triumphalist about Obama's candidacy. Less inevitably, the pathetic nature of the anti-Obama campaigns lured young Hispanics and Asians into jumping opportunistically onto the anti-white bandwagon alongside blacks—with whom they otherwise don't have all that much in common.

Weakness invites contempt, especially from the young, who have a pack instinct. In contrast, self-confident strength, as demonstrated by Arizona's SB1070 and some of the attacks on Obama, elicits respect and, at minimum, discourages the mass of opponents.

The reality is that Republicans aren't going to win over black voters. But, through a strong defense of their constituents' interests, they can counter the black triumphalism that brought so many blacks to the polls in 2008. And they can definitely discourage Hispanic and Asian anti-white opportunism simply by stopping being such pushovers.

It just needs courage.

Oh! Wait a minute…

[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.]