Romney strategist Stuart Stevens published an op-ed in The Washington Post today defending the campaign's efforts. What Stevens wrote is getting a lot of attention, mostly because he cites the fact that Romney lost non-white voters and voters making less than $50,000 a year as if that's a good thing.
But BooMan focuses on one passage in particular in Stuart's piece, a passage that reads in part:
There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory.In response, BooMan writes:
... after eight years of having a black family in the White House, there has been some reshuffling of the two parties' brands. The GOP is whiter than ever and the Democratic Party is more identified with the changing demographics of the country. Both changes are alienating people and growing the polarization between the parties. It may be that a 2016 campaign by Hillary Clinton will discover that Arkansas doesn't love her family anymore, and that West Virginia and Missouri are not going to come back into the fold. On the other hand, it could be that Obama's race is disguising the true weakness of the Republican Party. It could be that a 2016 Democratic candidate who is seen as a sound bet to continue Obama's policies and solidify his legacy will have no trouble holding onto his coalition, but will also find a much bigger pool of white working class voters willing to give their candidacy a look. Honestly, I suspect that the GOP is only hanging on as well as it is by fueling itself on the fumes of racial fear and resentment.I think he has a point -- though I think an inspiring white candidate can keep Obama's coalition and win back some lost white voters. But what BooMan writes reminds me that nominating Obama in '08, rather than Hillary Clinton, helped push the Democratic Party to become the party of the new America, and inspired the GOP to become even more the party of the past than it already was.
I don't think things would have happened in quite the same way if Obama had never challenged Hillary, or if she'd beaten him in '08. Hillary went into primary season with strong support among non-white voters, but it's really unlikely that she'd have worked to build the coalition Obama built -- focusing especially on non-whites and young voters -- if she'd won the nomination. I think she'd have tried to run a New Democrat campaign aimed at the kinds of voters who liked the V-chip and school uniforms in the '90s. Non-white voters would have been a significant part of her coalition, but not as much as they are Obama's.
And Obama's coalition -- built on non-whites and on young whites who accept the rainbow-hued nature of the future America -- has made the GOP even more insularly white and suburban/exurban/rural than it already was. The GOP would have demonized Hillary as a bitch and a boomer commie; the attacks on her as a woman would have backfired and broadened the gender gap, but there wouldn't have been the dog-whistle racial line of attack (birtherism, intimations of crypto-Muslim beliefs) that helped drive growing non-white groups into the Democratic camp.
So Obama helped make the GOP less competitive for the future, and made the Democrats more competitive. He pushed the party to embrace the future the way it embraced white ethnic groups a century ago. He made his party stronger. He made the other guys weaker.