Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quantifying failure

Paul Gottfried takes to task his local GOP county chairman who, in leaving that post after six years, cited as his chief regret that his party had been unable "to find ways to reach out to the minority community."

Gottfried excoriates the outgoing chairman, but fails to note the data showing that nowhere has the GOP failed more spectacularly in recent years than in his own Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. And minority "outreach" is not the problem. Look:

Bush 145,591 (66%)
Kerry 74,328 (34%)
McCain 124,475 (56%)
Obama 97,290 (43%)

Which is to say, the GOP lost 21,000 voters in this county in a four-year period, while the Democrats gained 23,000. For all the talk about "turnout" driving Obama's election, the total vote in Lancaster County increased by only 0.8%.

As to the outgoing chairman's bloviation about "outreach," the fact is that Lancaster County is 88% white, and the four-year decline of the GOP vote was almost certainly a result of white voters refusing to vote for John McCain. Why? Perhaps S.2611 and S.1348 had something to do with it, eh?

Ever since Crazy Cousin John started pushing his amnesty plan in 2006, I've been saying that you don't win elections by running against the people. That is to say, whatever your opinion of "populism," there is no political formula more certain of failure than anti-populism. Immigration is an issue where all the populist energy is on the side opposing amnesty, so that proponents of amnesty inevitably end up in the posture of denouncing the people as ignorant, i.e.: "You don't know what you're talking about, because if you did, you'd agree with me."

I am not of the "vox populi, vox dei" school of thought and generally do not approve of politicians being slaves to public-opinion polls. Nevertheless, in a (small-"d") democratic system, one expects elected representatives t0 take heed of the public mood -- especially the mood among their own party's voters.

In a 2001 Zogby poll, 56% of Republican voters said amnesty was a "bad" or "very bad" idea, compared to just 29% of Republicans who said it was a "good" or "very good" idea. When you begin examining voter intensity on the issue, the results are striking, as Steven Camarota summarized the Zogby results:
Those who oppose an amnesty seem to be much stronger in their opposition than are supporters in their support of an amnesty. While 20 percent of voters said that they thought it was a very bad idea, only 6 percent said it was a very good idea. Moreover, of those who said it was a bad or very bad idea, 51 percent said they would be less likely to vote for President Bush if he supported an amnesty. In contrast, of those who thought an amnesty was a good or very good idea, only 22 percent said they would be more likely to vote for Bush if he supported it.
Which is to say, being pro-amnesty is a net loser for Republicans, especially because such a position is directly contradictory to the intense sentiment of a substantial proportion of the Republican Party base. Amnesty supporters can argue the merits of S.2611 or S.1348 as policy until they're blue in the face, but the basic politics of the issue are clear. And while I think both measures were bad policy, even those who disagree on that score can't justify the measures as politics.

Politics precedes policy. You cannot govern if you don't win elections. The "outreach" idiocy of the outgoing Lancaster County GOP chairman demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how politics actually works.


  1. Yeah Stacey, and Rick Santorum was rewarded for his no vote. The problem is your cousin is thinking about not pissing off a future constituency made up of people from illegal immigration. May be he's right from a political perspective of what will happen, but I doubt it. Illegals and their offspring tend to vote democrat, so why bother...Unless of course you're a RINO or plan to move the party left. Let's face it, the party may well face the destiny of the Whigs, and based on this election, deservedly so. In my own state the GOP voted in more of the same to lead the party with Matt Strawn. He was on the Steve Deace Show and from what I heard, he's just another I want to appeal to every minor constituency in the party and not offend anyone politician. The only opinion he had was that he was pro-life. As long as we have these mountebanks and snake oil salesmen, we are screwed.

  2. This is a textbook example of how political correctness subverts thinking.

    Another notable fact is that if the share of the Hispanic vote that Obama and McCain received were reversed, the grumpy old man would have still lost by a couple million votes.

    These guys will just never get it.

  3. Thirteen28:
    Not only that, but they don't care too. Certainly not about what we think.