Move to the Right to Win Minority Votes
Instead of moving left to win minority votes, Republicans should move to the right.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Republicans court the minority vote by making two major mistakes.
The first mistake is assuming that a minority group is a single collective whose members all think the same. Yes, they may vote the same way, but that’s the outcome of a process combining everything from community organizing to media control which created a Democratic political identity for that group.
The second mistake is then aiming outreach at the organizations that form that political identity. That is like Coke trying to get Pepsi executives to drink Coke. It sounds stupid, but Republican outreach that involves the NAACP or Univision appearances are just as stupid. Those are arms of the Democratic Party. The only thing that outreach to them accomplishes is to reinforce their communal power while letting them set the narrative. The outreach ends with Republicans being told about the importance of embracing Democratic policies. And some Republicans are even stupid enough to fall for it.
Republicans are not going to win a majority of their votes any time soon, but they can win a minority of theirs votes without compromising their principles.
And they can do it while weakening the Democratic political identity within that group.
Democrats consistently lose the white vote, but combine high percentages of the minority vote with a minority of the white vote. The Republican model should focus on increasing its share of the white vote, increasing white voter turnout and adding enough minority votes to weaken the Democratic coalition.
Instead of imitating the Democratic Party’s broad spectrum targeting of minorities, Republicans should look at subgroups where they do better than the average within that group. For example, among Asian voters, Republicans perform better with Japanese and Vietnamese Americans than with Chinese or Indian voters. Among Jews, Republicans do better with religious Jews rather than secular Jews.
Bloomberg split the Latino vote in 2001. When he faced a Latino candidate in the New York City mayoral election four years later, he didn’t panic. His opponent was Puerto Rican and so his campaign aimed at the city’s growing Mexican population who felt overlooked and he won a third of Latino voters.
Instead of writing off an entire group as one collective whole, he drilled down to a subgroup.
Republicans make the mistake of looking for a policy popular with most voters in a group. It’s an approach that is statistically sensible, but politically stupid. Worse still, they often sabotage themselves by embracing liberal policies that they think a minority group wants, like amnesty or going easy on drug dealers, when there’s actually a good deal of support within those groups for law enforcement.
The first step in marketing a product is to find out who your customers are and what they want.
Romney won 42% of the Hispanic vote in Ohio. He won 33% of the Hispanic vote in Virginia. While 3/4rs of Hispanics in Ohio were born in America, 47% of Hispanics in Virginia are foreign born. The median income for Hispanics in Virginia is $24,000. It’s $37,500 in Ohio.
Republicans tend to do better with Hispanic voters with a college education and a higher income. They also tend to do better with native born voters.
Statistical breakdowns like these are more than curiosities. They help Republicans narrowly target the types of voters they are likely to do better with, mobilizing them and increasing their turnout.
For example, 60 percent of Jews who attend weekly religious services disapprove of Obama. 58 percent of Jews who rarely attend approve of him.
Romney won 39% of the Vietnamese vote and 37% of the Filipino vote, but only 16% of the Indian vote.
Most voters are still focused on the economy. But where there are single issue concerns, the Republicans would be wiser to keep their principles and split the vote, instead of pandering on issues where Democrats already enjoy an advantage. That means being opposed to amnesty, rather than for it.
Republicans try to win Jewish voters over by combining support for Israel with support for a Two State Solution. But the Two State Solution is killing Israel. It’s most popular with liberal Jews who won’t vote Republican anyway and least popular with the religious Jewish voters who actually lean Republican.
Likewise, instead of pandering to #BlackLivesMatters, Republicans should address black voters worried about crime and gang violence. They’re not going to get the #BlackLivesMatter vote anyway, but they might make some inroads among black voters looking to clean up their neighborhoods.
Instead of liberalizing their positions to appeal to minority voters, Republicans should target conservative issues within segments of minority groups concerned about those issues.
Instead of competing to be better Democrats, they should distinguish themselves as Republicans.
Instead of another consultant class program to rebrand to appeal to some broad construct of the minority vote, Republicans should get to know communities, particularly overlooked ones, and look for areas where local needs and conservative political principles overlap.
Republicans would find more success if they spent less time with Washington insiders who claim to represent minority interests, but who are actually just Democratic community organizers, and instead looked for communities and community leaders that feel unrecognized and unrepresented.
This will require some of the community organizing that allowed the left to build its coalition. But it’s doable. It just means thinking about the Vietnamese vote, instead of the Asian vote. It means doing the hard work of building a political infrastructure that rewards local conservative minority group leaders.
Obama’s coalition wasn’t just a minority coalition, but a coalition of enthusiastic supporters from minority groups who would turn out in aggressive numbers. This is a model that Republicans can and should adopt. The “inoffensive Republican” candidate is a failed legacy of another era that should not have survived the Reagan years.
Being inoffensive does not win elections. Engaging the base by focusing on the compelling issues that they care about does.
Republicans should not back amnesty. That’s stupid and suicidal. Neither should they completely write off the Hispanic vote. They should not endorse pro-crime policies, but neither should they completely write off the black vote. Those are false choices manufactured by the left to push the GOP against a wall.
The smart choice is to maximize voter turnout across racial lines in support of principled policies.
These tactics aren’t likely to win a majority of the minority vote. But no amount of Republican rebranding will do that anyway because much of the minority vote runs through a funnel of community organizations controlled by fundamentally unfriendly groups like ACORN. And fighting crime and opposing illegal immigration actually resonates with some Hispanic and black voters.
When Giuliani first became mayor, he won only 5 percent of the black vote. In his next election, he won 20 percent. His share of the Hispanic vote went from 37 percent to 43 percent.
The media still spent most of its time calling him a racist, but minority voters responded to results.
Giuliani wasn’t able to significantly increase his share of the white vote. For a Republican, 77 percent is already a ridiculously high number in a Democratic city. But he made enough inroads in the non-white vote to achieve a landslide and a political mandate. The first time around, he lost Manhattan and Brooklyn. The second time around, he won both.
The first time, Giuliani won by increasing white voter turnout. The second time, he turned out a larger number of minority voters who were willing to support him while maintaining his existing white support.
This will be the key to the Republican Party increasing its already high lead in statewide offices and competing in unfriendly states and national elections. Its candidates must retain their base and then chip away at the base of the other side. Instead Republicans splintered their own base in frantic efforts to redraw the electoral maps and threw the 2016 election into the frenzy that it is today.
Like Giuliani, Republicans should start by maximizing turnout for their base. And that means standing strong and delivering results on the issues that they care about. Only then they can they use wedge issues to peel away enough of the minority vote that their Democratic opponents can’t afford to lose.
Instead of moving left to win minority votes, Republicans should move to the right.
The Republicans can’t compete on pro-crime policies, amnesty or the welfare state with the left anyway. When they try, they lose their own base. But there are plenty of Asian voters angry about affirmative action, black voters angry about crack dealers in their neighborhoods and middle class Hispanic small business owners who are angry about the welfare state. Instead of chasing minority voters that the GOP can’t get, it should connect on traditional conservative issues with those it can get.