The fervent anti-government populism of the so-called tea party movement way well provide Republicans with short-term gains in the 2010 midterm elections, but it isn’t enough to establish the GOP as a majority party in the long run, according to a left-leaning political analyst.
Ongoing shifts in demographics, such growth in minority voters, young voters, and even white college graduates, all point to trouble ahead for a staunchly right-wing Republican Party, says Ruy Texeira, senior fellow at the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress, and author of the study, “Demographic Change and the Future of the Parties.”
Texeira is scheduled next week to participate in a panel discussion in Washington on the question, “Can conservatism survive mass immigration?” That event is set for Sept. 1, at 9:30 a.m. at the National Press Club.
Immigration has become a heated issue as lawmakers consider comprehensive reform at the federal level, and at the state level given the controversy over the Arizona immigration statute that was partially struck down by a judge.
Meanwhile, tea-party-backed candidates including Sharron Angle of Nevada, Ken Buck of Colorado and Rand Paul, of Kentucky, continue to fill the ranks of Republican candidates for the November midterm elections in which Democrats must defend their majorities in the House and Senate.
Heavily Democratic minority voters, who went 80 percent for President Obama his election, increased their share of votes in U.S. presidential elections by 11 percentage points between 1988 and 2008, Texeira notes in his study.
The United States will be a majority-minority nation by 2042, and by 2050, the country will be 54 percent minority as Latinos double from 15 percent to 30 percent of the population, Asian Americans increase from 5 percent to 9 percent, and African Americans move from 14 to 15 percent, his study says.
But immigration and ethnicity is but one shift that, over time, could well drive more voters to the Democrats unless Republicans change course radically, he adds.
The Millennial generation (those born between 1978 and 2000) is adding 4 million eligible voters to the voting pool every year, and this group voted for Obama by a an overwhelming 66-32 margin in 2008, Texeira’s study says. By 2020—the first presidential election in which all Millennials will have reached voting age—this generation will be 103 million strong, and about 90 million of them will be eligible voters. Those 90 million Millennial eligible voters will represent just under 40 percent of America’s total eligible voters, the study adds.
Even the GOP’s hold on the white working class is not secure, and if that slips, the party doesn’t have much to build on to form a successful new coalition, the study finds.
“That probably also means offering these voters something more than culture war nostrums and antitax jeremiads,” it says.
What this means, Texeira says, is that the GOP must begin proposing new solutions to problems beyond mere promises of tax-cutting. “In short, the ‘party of no’ has a limited shelf life,” he says, referring to the moniker Republicans have picked up as a result of sustained opposition and obstruction during the Obama administration.
Republican solutions “should use government to address problems but in ways that reflect conservative values and principles,” Texeira’s study says.
“For that, a conservatism must be built that is not allergic to government spending when needed and even to taxes when there is no responsible alternative,” it says. “The party must paradoxically find a way to combine its standard antigovernment populism with pro-government conservatism.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.