Last Thursday at the National Tea Party Convention, former Congressman Tom Tancredo gave us this gem: “People who could not even spell the word ‘vote’ or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House.” Putting aside the obvious racism of this or whether Barack Obama is a “socialist ideologue” (I just happen to think he’s a politician of expediency), the obvious implication of this is his belief that Hispanics were responsible for putting Barack Obama in the White House. Tancredo also said that Obama was elected because “we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country.”
But if you look at exit poll data, the two biggest racial reasons for Obama victory was an increase in support from white males and an increased turnout and overwhelming support from African-Americans. In 2004, George W. Bush received a solid 62% of white males. In 2008, John McCain was only able to carry 57%. And for all the talk in the Roissysphere about women loving Obama, he only did two point better among white women than John Kerry did. (Although it is interesting that the gender gap was largest in the northeast, where most Roissysphere bloggers are from)
There are 19 states plus the District of Columbia where Obama won the white vote for 222 electoral votes, and they weren’t just coastal states. They included rust-belt states like Michigan and Wisconsin and even two states that Bush won in 2004, Iowa and long-time Republican state Colorado. If you add three states where Obama narrowly lost the white vote and at least 10% of the voters where African-American (Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania), that takes him to 268, just two short of victory. I can also safely say that because of his margin of victory and the low percentage of Hispanic voters that Obama would have carried Ohio and Virginia without Hispanic support. Although 15% of Nevada voters are Hispanic, because McCain only received 53% of white vote and 10% of the state voters where African-American, Obama still would have carried it. The only states where it might be reasonable to suggest that Hispanics pushed Obama over the edge are New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana. And in the case of Indiana and North Carolina, shifts in the white vote played a much greater role than Hispanics. As for Florida, Obama’s victory there had much to do from a shift from Cuban Americans, the most assimilated group of Hispanics.
Steve Sailer, an articulate opponent of illegal immigration, has made the case that Republican victories are dependent on large shares of the white vote. And comparing the numbers from 2004 to 2008 would prove him right. Virginia and North Carolina, two states essential for a Republican victory in 2012, saw significant drops in the white vote. In Virginia, support for the GOP dropped from 68% to 60%, causing Barack Obama to become the first Democratic nominee to win the Commonwealth since Lyndon Johnson. In the Tarheel State, white support went from 73% to 64%. Over in Indiana, another traditionally Republican state that Obama carried, Bush carried 65% of whites while McCain was only able to nab 54%.
As for Tancredo’s support for a civics literacy test, while it true that Obama won voter who did not graduate from high school 63%-35%, he also won voters of every educational level, so it’s a stretch to suggest that Obama’s voters are dumber than McCain. It annoyed me when liberals suggested Bush voters where dumber than Gore and Kerry voters and I believe the same principle applies.
I don’t deny that illegal immigration is a problem for this country and that the Republican Party faces long-term demographical problems. But is fundamentally dishonest to ignore the facts and scapegoat the loss on an election on a group that played a very small role. The obvious reason for Obama’s victory is that the traditional base of the Republican Party abandoned them. How exactly they can won back will be debated among pundits and party regulars, but seeing Obama’s falling numbers, it’s clear that they are there for the taking.