On the erosion of the racial gap in turnout.
I’ve wanted to say something about this since yesterday. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to give it a proper analysis (nor do I now, really), and a cursory perusal of other blogs had not, as of last night (PDT), anything. If it holds, it is not good for the burnt-out shell of the Republican Party.
Turnout is, in general, habitual, and it’s a habit that is either formed or not formed young — usually the first three election cycles one is eligible to participate in. The decision to or not to vote in the initial opportunity can be influenced by many conditions, such as the competitiveness and/or salience of the election, or the presence of a particularly attractive candidate.
I’m not going out on a limb when I speculate that the 2008 Presidential election in the U.S. featured the latter, especially in relation to certain racial categories. The question that many will ask is whether or not these new voters hold. This will make the 2010 Congressional elections informative for several reasons. My suspicion is, backed by what we know from past elections, that the surge in turnout the youth cohort demonstrated in 2008 will hold. It will fluctuate, of course, but it will hold in the main.
The problem that this presents for the Republicans is two-fold. First, voters tend to maintain the party loyalties that they establish in their first few elections. Again, this is on average, and there are anecdotal exceptions to the rule, but it is a general principle. Second, the surge in turnout in the young cohort was not limited to African-Americans, but also Latinos and Asians. If the Republicans continue pandering to their open-minded, inquisitive, generously tolerant Palinesque base, they’re only going to solidify these voters as Democrats.
In other words, keep digging deep, suckers.
I’d expand upon this and link up a bunch of the literature, but I don’t have the time. The L.O.M.L. and I are off to the Oregon Brewers Festival, where I understand beer can be purchased and consumed.
Final note: warm congratulations to Rob and Davida.