is contained in this piece by Donald Lambro chief political correspondent for the Washington Times. Lambro reports that Democrats are losing support among black and Hispanic voters. He points to survey results showing that only 63 percent of black voters now call themselves Democrats, down from 74 percent in 2000. Ten percent now identify themselves as Republicans, as opposed to 4 percent in 2000. Moreover, the Republicans are believed to have captured a record 35 percent of “Hispanic” voters in 2002. Democrats also continue to lose support among labor union rank and file.
I can’t dispute Lambro’s figures, nor do I want to. However, I question some of his explanations for the trends he reports. Lambro thinks that Republicans are picking up support among black voters because of President Bush’s support for school choice, privatization, and money with which to combat AIDS in Africa. I am more inclined to attribute the increase to the fact that it’s nearly impossible for the party of a popular president to be limited to only 4 percent support from any segment of the population except perhaps college professors and New York Times editors. To be a bit less cynical, the evidence suggests that Republicans are doing well among young voters generally, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be making inroads with young black voters. The mixture of myth and reality that caused black voters of a certain age to support Democrats unconditionally surely has far less resonance with younger black voters.
Lambro attributes the erosion of Democratic support among Hispanics in part to the Democratic filibuster of the Miguel Estrada nomination. I would like to believe this, but I’m skeptical. The Hispanic population is incredibly diverse and it strikes me as improbable that, given meaningful competition, either party could capture and hold onto much more than 65 percent of that vote for long. President Bush, of course, is competing hard for the Hispanic vote.
At the end of the piece, Lambro seems to suggest that the Democrats, having lost control of the presidency, both houses of Congress, and the majority of governorships and state legislatures, and now facing the erosion of its base, may be headed for extinction. This strikes me as implausible. The Democrats are not that far removed from 50-50 status and they have made inroads among important groups (suburbanites, professionals, etc), as documented in the book The Emerging Demcratic Majority. The evidence Lambro points should be of concern to Democrats. However, modern politics in this country tends toward equilibrium, and the Democrats face no danger of extinction unless they get too far on the wrong side of the national security issue.
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