Wednesday, March 14, 2012


You probably know that GOP voters in Alabama and Mississippi love their Jesus:

White born-again and evangelical Christians were dominating Alabama's and Mississippi's Republican presidential primaries on Tuesday....

Around 8 in 10 Mississippians participating in Tuesday's contest were white evangelical or born-again Christians.... Those same voters accounted for nearly three-quarters of those surveyed in Alabama....

What I find striking is that it appears the voters pools in Mississippi was more born-again and evangelical than four years ago, and in Alabama the percentages were approximately the same:

in Alabama and Mississippi ... evangelicals accounted for 77 and 69 percent of voters in the 2008 GOP primaries ...

And as for ideology, at least in Mississippi:

More than four in 10 voters in Mississippi call themselves "very conservative" in early exit polls, up significantly from 2008. About seven in 10 overall are conservative, also higher than four years ago.

I know -- these are just two states, and we're talking about the voter pool of just one party within those states. But aren't these folks supposed to be fading away? Isn't the Grim Demographic Reaper supposed to be ushering this kind of voter to the Great Polling Place in the Sky? Isn't the point that this kind of voter is being replaced by younger Republicans whose megachurches aren't ideological, and where the young people watch Glee and think gay people are kind of OK?

So when does the future start?

I know, I know. Maybe the available choices (especially Santorum) affected the proportions of evangelicals (remember, by this time in '08, Huckabee and Thompson were out of the race by the time it got to these states).

But really, when do we start getting the new America we've been promised for years? When does the country start changing? How do we know we're not just breeding a whole new generation of angry, tribal white people?


JoyousMN said...

Amen. (Sorry I couldn't resist)

I'm really glad you posted this. We on the left have been reading about these coming demographic shifts for years; yet it seems difficult to see much change. I suppose it's just a really slow, incremental process. Gay rights have certainly seen a big shift in attitudes, but, as the ongoing debate on womens reproductive issues shows us, there is a long road ahead.

I think Fox and its ilk probably help keep the right wing going too.

As a late boomer/GenX'r all I've seen is right wimg ascedence. Any lefty candiates have to be fought for with all our might, or they go down to defeat. Look at the next election. Unless we fight hard. Hell, even of we fight hard, Obama could easily lose.

Tom Hilton said...'s both, actually. Not mutually exclusive.

First, keep in mind that in this year's primaries they're a larger percentage of a smaller pool. That doesn't mean there are more of them (necessarily). It means the less crazy Republicans were less motivated to get out and vote (go figure).

Second, I think the angry racist evangelicals were motivated partly by the available choices--not so much by Santorum but by Romney. I think there's a lot of them trying to save the party from the cultist RINO.

Third, the demographic shifts really are happening--and that's what scares them. That's what makes them angry. Obama (as living symbol of the demographic shifts that terrify them) gets them into a frenzy of rage and hatred, and that (I think) is enough to get them out to vote in disproportionate numbers.

Fourth, they'll never die away completely (remember the Crazification Factor), but I think this election could be their last big stand--and their own sense that this is the case is what feeds their rage.

Cereal said...

As above. You cannot deduce anything about US demographics from the tiny, very specific pool of people who turned out for these two primaries.

Steve M. said...

I'm just wondering if you deduce anything about voter demographics. If angry white Christians keep voting in strong numbers and the rest of us don't (or aren't allowed to), what then?

BH said...

Exactly, Steve. From an electoral standpoint, it's not the makeup of the population as a whole that matters; it's the makeup of the electorate. The Tx Democratic Party has been living on the demographic-shift dream since at least '94, with abysmal results. Regardless of the shifts in overall demographics in those 18 years, the electorate remains hard-right.

From what I've observed, I'd say that the younger generation of "tribal-white" origins is no improvement over its progenitors. But then, my field of observation is very limited, and is likely far more similar to Ala/Miss than to, say, Ohio. LBJ famously acknowledged that by passing the Civil Rights Act of '64 and the Voting Rights Act of '65, the D's had given the south to the R's for at least a generation. I'm now wondering, rather pessimistically, how many generations it might take for that to change - or if it will at all.

Steve M. said...

The goal of the GOP is to make the entire country into the Deep South in terms of voting, along the lines of what BH describes. I wish I could say it wasn't working.

Tom Hilton said...

Well, yes, it all depends on the makeup of the electorate. But this increase in percentage of angry white yahoo voters was within the Republican party; it doesn't really tell us much of anything about what proportion of the general electorate they'll be. (If I had to guess, I'd say they won't turn out in nearly the same numbers with Romney as their candidate. I think some of this was aimed at stopping Romney.)

And the other thing is, demographic shifts mean any turnout advantage they have gets less and less effective over time.

And Texas may not have gone blue, but compare the 2008 results with 2004. There are reasons the GOP had to gerrymander the hell out of those districts...

BH said...

True about the uber-gerrymandering, Tom, and thanks for mentioning that. From where I'm sitting, any reminder of hope is mighty welcome.

One minor point, though: demographic shifts won't automatically lessen the lumpenright's turnout advantage. The demographic shifts will have to be accompanied by at least a non-decreasing non-lumpenright turnout rate in order for that to happen. Does seem likely, though, all else being equal.

Tom Hilton said...

Good point. That said, over time the demographic shifts dwarf variations in turnout, so again, the angry white turnout machine will become less and less effective (almost) regardless of turnout among growing populations.