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Exit Polls Suggest Slight GOP Benefit With Latino Candidates

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Voting Patterns on November 18, 2012 at 1:41 am

Does a Republican candidate with a Hispanic surname do better than with Latino voters than an Anglo name?

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Stassel discussed a Spanish-speaking Republican son of Portugese parents [technically not Latino] who beat the tide in California in 2012, as David Valadao flipped a Democratic US House seat to Republican.  The San Joaquin Valley district is 70% Hispanic. [1]  Her points about Mr. Valadao’s success are well-taken, and his success suggests a reasonable approach on immigration reform is a start for any Republican aiming for Latino votes. 

But Ms. Stassel claims other Hispanic Republicans have “cracked the code.  Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susannah [sic] Martinez, Texas Sen.-elect Ted Cruz- all have demonstrated the ability to attract Hispanic voters with the GOP message.” [1]

“Cracked the code”?  Is that true? 

We don’t know how well Gov. Martinez did with Latinos because, according to the Pew Center, “No exit polls were done in New Mexico, so it is not possible to analyze the voting patterns among Latinos and other groups in Martinez’s victorious gubernatorial campaign.” [2]  Martinez won with 53.4% of the vote in 2010 [3], a very good year for Republicans nationally and in a “light blue” state with its population 46% Latino, though a lower proportion is registered to vote. [4]

Marco Rubio did win 55% of the Hispanic vote in Florida in 2010 and fellow Republican Rick Scott won 50% of the Hispanic vote [5] in his race against Alex Sink.  It’s impossible to be sure what forces drove each person’s vote.  The Exit Polling suggests 5% of Hispanics voted for Republican Rubio for Senate and voted for the Democrat Sink for Governor.  It is possible Rubio’s ethnic heritage and fluency in Spanish helped him win those extra votes.  It could be that it was based on other issues.  Immigration, presumably, matters little in Gubernatorial races.

Alas, Stossel’s remark about Ted Cruz is half right.  Cruz had some, but not great, incremental results with Hispanic voters.  Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney actually won a slightly higher percentage of Texas votes (57.2%) [6] than Cruz (56.6%) [7], despite Romney’s lack of success with Latino voters, winning just 27% nationally. 

Because Texas wasn’t expected to be close, no Exit Polls were conducted. [8]  I pulled county level data, which shows the maps look almost the same for Cruz and Romney.  Both Republicans won most of Texas’ 254 counties.  Cruz won just one that Romney lost: gigantic and half-Latino Harris County (home of Houston).  Romney lost the county by 615 votes, a fraction of a percent, whereas Cruz won Harris by 2% (about 19,000 votes). [10]

Also, Houston Chronicle columnist Charles Kuffner looked at Romney vs. Cruz vote totals in five overwhelmingly Latino Texas counties.   In all five, Cruz outdid Romney, though he lost the Latino vote in all. [9]  It is worth noting, too, that Cruz ran on a conservative platform that was tough on illegal immigration.  On the other hand, Cruz’s father was a Cuban immigrant who arrived with $100 and worked the meanest sort of jobs.  Perhaps his story resonated.  Or his last name.  What we do know suggests he outperformed Romney with Texas Latinos, though he did not outright win them.

  President President Senate Senate
COUNTY Romney Obama Cruz Sadler (D)
Cameron 24,955 49,159 27,881 41,930
El Paso 56,517 112,273 59,237 101,467
Hidalgo 39,786 97,879 41,591 88,316
Maverick 6,550 8,302 2,171 2,674
Webb 30,431 37,592 11,074 14,943

I wondered about another high-profile 2010 race, Nevada’s US Senate race featuring Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle.  There was a concurrent race, Nevada Governor, featuring Reid’s son against Hispanic Republican Brian Sandoval.  Sandoval received 33% of the Hispanic vote, whereas Angle received 30%.  That surprised me.  A Hispanic Republican received 33% in his winning bid, yet Angle won 30%, despite her anti-immigration ad that was perceived by many as anti-Mexican American immigrant. [11]  I consider myself a moderate Republican, and Angle’s ad featuring a map of Mexico and dark-skinned border crossers makes me cringe.  It was a textbook case of how to alienate many Latinos.  Yet, Sandoval only polled a 3% increment of Hispanic voters over Angle.

All this data suggests a handful of Latino Republicans have, for whatever reason, outpolled prominent white GOP statewide candidates.  There are so many unique facets of any race – campaign spending, personalities, issues and scandals – that we cannot tell exact reasons why.  But, my take is the evidence shows (1) the GOP would be wise to put forward credible Hispanic candidates whenever possible in areas with significant Latino voting populations and (2) the GOP has a long way to go in terms of outright winning Latino votes.  The performances of Cruz and Sandoval show they did not win the Hispanic vote; not even close.  Rubio, perhaps an unusually strong candidate and one now with national prominence, was able to crack 55% of Florida’s admittedly more GOP-friendly Hispanic voters.  Lacking Exit Polls, we cannot tell how well Susana Martinez did, but her 53% overall win suggests she probably lost the Hispanic vote, given an expected win with white voters.

If the GOP is serious about winning national elections – or winning state and local elections in states like Nevada, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Texas, the party MUST make itself more hospitable to Americans of Latin American and Hispanic descent.  If “amnesty” was good enough for Ronald Reagan, it should be good enough for today’s GOP.  Senator-elect Cruz understands:

“If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community, in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state,” he said.

Cruz added that losing a state like Texas, which carried 38 electoral votes in 2012, would hold national implications.

“If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House,” he said. “New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party.” [12]

It won’t be easy.  I suspect the low Hispanic vote totals of Governor Sandoval and Senator Cruz partly reflect the poisoned Republican brand.  It is easy to envision a moderate Mexican-American voter in Nevada.  If displeased with Angle’s ads, might there not be a spillover effect when considering the candidacy of fellow Republican Sandoval?  

I’ve supported immigration reform for decades because it’s the morally right thing to do and it makes sense economically.  Immigrants come here for work.  From a Republican perspective, its become an electoral necessity, too.  Romney lost because of his paltry 27% of the Hispanic vote, which was 10% of the national total.  If he split the Hispanic vote, he would have won easily.  If he took just 40%, he would’ve eked out a win.  Chew on that, Minutemen!

[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/potomac_watch.html

[2] http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1790/2010-midterm-elections-exit-poll-hispanic-vote

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Mexico_gubernatorial_election,_2010, retrieved 11/15/12.

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_mexico, retrieved 11/15/12.

[5] http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/130.pdf

[6] http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0oG7mmRW6hQz3UApw5XNyoA?p=mitt%20romney%20texas%20vote%20results&fr2=sb-top&fr=yfp-t-701

[7] http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=Ag.4FH7VIoh00jFSArwgSM6bvZx4?p=ted+cruz+vote+results&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-701

[8] http://washingtonexaminer.com/exit-polls-skip-texas-missing-key-demographic-data/article/2513289

[9] http://blog.chron.com/kuffsworld/2012/11/did-ted-cruz-do-better-in-latino-areas-than-other-republicans/

[10] http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/results/state/TX

[11] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/18/sharron-angle-immigration-ad_n_766312.html

[12] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/ted-cruz-latino-vote_n_2117193.html

Note: I use “Hispanic” and “Latino” interchangeably.  The US Census Bureau defines Hispanic as origins traced to a Spanish-speaking country (including Spain, but not Brazil).  Latino is defined as origins in Latin America (not including Spain, but including Brazil).  Many American Hispanics prefer simply “American” or their country of origin (e.g. Cuban-American, Colombian-American).  Others’ ancestors lived in former Mexican states like Texas (“Tejanos”) and Colorado and became American without moving, after the Treaty of Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War.  Hispanics are all individuals and reflect a rich tapestry of cultural experience.  Have a naming preference?  No offense is intended.

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.

The Reality Show of Voting: You And Your 129 Close Relatives

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Assimilation, Immigration on November 8, 2012 at 2:03 am

 

 

Your 129 close relatives decided your vote.  No, it’s not a strange Univision reality TV show, though there sure are many of those.  It was the 2012 US Presidential Election.You see, you’re a middle class American and you were born in lovely Guadalajara, Mexico in 1975.  Your average family meant a busy childhood for you and your six siblings.  In 1976, the average fertility of an average Mexican woman was an astounding 7.2 children [1], though it is nearly the same as the USA today at 2.3 [2].  Dad and Mom’s generation was a busy one.

Each of your parents had six siblings.   Of those 12 blood-related aunts and uncles, five of the six married and they had the average six children each.  That meant 22 aunts and uncles and sixty total cousins.  For some reason, three were named Jorge.  You recall youthful Quinceañeras, weddings, Easter and Buena Noche family events were always crowded.  Your four grandparents each lived to around seventy years.

When you immigrated to the US at age five, your family absorbed American culture.  Only four of your six siblings married, and they each had just three children.  That gave you 12 total nieces and nephews.  You married your high school sweetheart and had just two children.

Your spouse was a second generation Mexican-American and had two parents and two siblings, one of whom, Marissa, married with just two children. 

You graduated from the University of Texas and live today as a successful accountant the pleasant Houston suburb of Katy.  Your lawn is trim and green; you own a Toyota Camry and a Ford SUV.   You fly the American flag from your front porch.  Every Sunday, you attend Catholic mass.  While politics is of little concern to you, you’re generally for reasonable taxes, helping those who need help and like most Mexican-Americans, you’re uncomfortable with abortion.  You remember your Dad liked Ronald Reagan, who granted citizenship to your parents back in the 1980s.

At least once a year, you go back to visit relatives in Mexico.  You lost touch with some of your cousins, but most are a phone call away.  Some stayed in the large commercial city of Guadalajara, a few moved to the capital of Mexico City or to the growing metropolis of Monterrey, and others moved to California and Illinois.  Your siblings live in Texas, Florida, Arizona and the two sisters live in different suburbs of Denver, Colorado.

You were underwhelmed by the economy 2009-2012 but you have deep roots in Mexico.  You are, first and foremost, an American but on occasion in your life, someone screamed “wetback” or “Spic” at you from a car.  No, your car doesn’t run on tacos.  Most of the whites and blacks you come across with are very nice but sometimes you received unpleasant stares.  Last summer, when your cousin Isabella visited from Jalisco state, her husband played some ranchero music from the rent-a-car and some local teenagers laughed loudly through their open window.  These things are not a really big deal to you, the economic opportunities and freedom in the US make it well worthwhile.

But, deep down, you’re always a tad bit aware that some people don’t much like “Mexicans” and, American-citizen that you are, it’s always there in your mind.  You know your cousins Rosa and Maria snuck into the US with their husbands and have been living illegally in an apartment in Iowa, of all places, where they work at a slaughterhouse doing work no native-born American will do.

You heard about legislation in Arizona to demand proof of citizenship for anyone who looked like they could be an illegal immigrant.  You sure didn’t like that; you wondered why a Mexican-American citizen of the USA like yourself would be apt to get stopped when your Chinese-born and Korean-born coworkers would not, to say nothing of the rest who simply looked white or black. 

At times, there was national press about some obscure Republican from Colorado, a Tom something or another, who ran for President on a platform of shutting down the border.  You hear that term from time to time, shut down the border.  Since you cross it periodically to visit relatives or for vacations, you know it’s already shut down.  It can take eight hours to cross the line and the Border Patrol agents often are a bit icy.  You wonder what would happen if you ever had your wallet stolen in Mexico and lost your ID; getting back into your own country, the USA, would be a nightmare.  You have a hunch it’s a lot easier to cross from Canada.

Prominent national Republicans seem reasonable enough; you were okay with George W. Bush, who actually spoke Spanish.  You’ve already forgotten some words from disuse all these years, but you’re aware a lot of Americans are strangely obsessed with the Spanish language.  Which is odd, you know every aspiring Mexican wants to learn English and people in Mexico grow up listening to American pop music and watching US movies and TV shows with Spanish subtitles.  You know #1 hit albums in Mexico in 2012 include English-language hits from Adele, Madonna and that boy band called One Direction.  There aren’t any Spanish-language #1 albums in the USA.  You laugh when you hear English is “under attack.”  From what?

But there are some small-time Republicans, some sheriffs out west, that Governor of Arizona and some US representatives who sometimes get mighty angry about “immigration”, “the border” and “the illegals” that steal jobs.  You know that last point is a joke.  If all the illegals left tomorrow, America’s lawns would grow long and America’s plates would go uncleaned in the nation’s restaurants.  You don’t even remember the name of the Republicans, they were low-level ones, mostly out  West, but a few spoke of taking away birth right citizenship, which struck you as deeply unfair and targeted at Mexican-Americans.  The political TV ads these folks ran, you saw excerpts on national TV, always showed dark-skinned Latinos sneaking under fences.  It’s never an Irish college kid who over-stayed his Visa, which is funny, because that guy Martin in the computer lab at work, the programmer guy – yeah, the dude who actually sings about Guinness beer – he was an illegal when he over-stayed his visa.  But no one runs TV ads about drunken Irish illegals.

You heard something on the radio news about an obscure Republicans talking of “live ammo” for the Border Patrol.  You shuddered at that, after all, some of your cousins crossed and who knows who else might someday.  Other crazy ideas were sticking alligators in the Rio or using unmanned drones to take out illegals.  You know there are Minutemen out there who spend their free time wandering the Arizona desert to stop immigrants.  They’re trying to stop the same people who clean the dishes at Applebee’s and wash cars at Spick-N-Span Wash for those same Minutemen.  You really get the sense some people really don’t like “your type.” 

That bothers you because it cuts against your family.  Like most Mexican-Americans, you’re big on family.  You loved your grandparents, your parents and your uncles and aunts.  Uncle Jose is the one who taught you to pitch a baseball!  Uncle Pablo was a blast when he used to tell you and your brothers stories about women when your dad wasn’t around.  These are your gente, your people.  And no one is more pro-family than your extended family.  Some people are all hat and no uterus!

All that talk about immigration rubs you the wrong way when its said “lazy” people want to come to the US for its welfare system (you’d go to Spain for that!) or to drop by and have “anchor babies.”  Anyone who thinks Mexicans are “lazy” has never seen your brother Ricardo juggle three jobs like an acrobat.  If anything, the Mexicans you know probably work too hard, they should relax once in a while.  That’s why your Dad always looked so tired with his full-time janitor job plus the side job as a handyman. 

That Mitt Romney guy never spoke crazy but he did talk tough about closing down illegal immigration.  Obama promised some immigration reform, but he didn’t even try, which frustrated you.  Still, he eventually came up with this complicated half-measure, a “Dream Act.”  It wasn’t much, just letting some college kids stay for two years.  You noted their parents and siblings could still be deported in the meantime.  But… it was something when the Republicans offered nothing so you took the meager Dream Act and thought, well, it’s a start.  And you voted Obama in 2012.  Like 71% of other Latino American voters. [3]  Will the Republicans compete for your vote in 2014 and 2016?

[1] http://www.colby.edu/personal/t/thtieten/pop-mex.html

[2] http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/mexico_statistics.html

[3]  http://news.yahoo.com/poll-latino-vote-devastated-gop-even-worse-exits-181922111–politics.html

 

Obama Brokered Private Equity Oil Deal & Pressured EPA to Waive Environmental Review

In 2012 Elections, Obama Administration, Political Rhetoric on November 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm

At the exact time Obama ran attack ads against Bain Capital, his Administration brokered a deal to sell a carbon-based fuel processing plant to a politically-connected private equity firm, yes, read that again, a private equity firm.  Ever more amazing, the Administration pushed its own EPA to waive an environmental review of the deal.   The report from Mark Maremont in the Wall Street Journal [1]  is behind a pay-wall, so I paste much of it below:

Since the spring, President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has repeatedly hit Mitt Romney for his career as a private-equity executive and has aired ads accusing his former firm, Bain Capital, of ruining businesses and sending jobs overseas.

At the same time, the Obama White House played a central role in encouraging another private-equity firm to rescue a Philadelphia oil refinery, whose imminent closure by owner Sunoco threatened to send gasoline prices higher before the election.

Gene Sperling, director of Mr. Obama’s National Economic Council, helped kick-start discussions to sell the refinery to Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington, D.C., private-equity firm.

Mr. Sperling later talked numerous times to Carlyle executives, government officials and union leaders as part of a bipartisan effort, according to participants in the talks.

Carlyle last month said it would take a two-thirds stake in the refinery and invest at least $200 million, staving off the potential for fuel-price increases and saving 850 unionized jobs in Pennsylvania, a likely battleground state in November.

To help seal the deal, expected to be made final in September, the Obama administration and state regulators agreed to loosen certain environmental restrictions on the refinery.

Pennsylvania’s Republican governor, Tom Corbett, contributed $25 million in state subsidies and other incentives.

The refinery story is an example of how the private-equity industry is a more complicated place than the image kicked up by this year’s presidential election, in which first Mr. Romney’s Republican primary rivals, and then the White House, used Bain as a cudgel….

In September 2011, Sunoco said it planned to quit the refining business and sell refineries in Philadelphia and nearby Marcus Hook, Pa. The company has said its refineries lost $1 billion over three years. Sunoco warned it would close both facilities if it failed to find a buyer.

By the end of last year, it had halted refining at Marcus Hook, and talks with possible buyers for the Philadelphia refinery, including Carlyle, had fizzled.

Closing the Philadelphia refinery, the largest on the East Coast, threatened to disrupt gasoline and heating-oil supplies in the Northeast.

A Feb. 27 report from the federal Energy Information Administration warned of the potential for prices to “spike.” Republicans at that time were criticizing the administration for rising gasoline prices.

The EIA warnings, along with a broader reduction of refinery capacity in the region, set “alarm bells” ringing inside the White House, an administration official said. Aides concluded gas prices could rise 20 cents to 30 cents a gallon in parts of the Northeast.

In late February, Rep. Bob Brady, (D., Pa.), a union-friendly congressman from Philadelphia, met with Sunoco’s incoming chief executive, Brian P. MacDonald.

Mr. Brady said the White House was concerned and asked Mr. MacDonald to think about options “if there was broader help,” according to a timeline later circulated by Carlyle, which Sunoco said was accurate. Mr. MacDonald asked to talk to the White House directly.

A Brady representative said the congressman was traveling and unavailable to comment.

On March 8, the White House’s Mr. Sperling hosted a call with the Sunoco CEO, Mr. Brady and Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman. The White House confirmed the call.

The group discussed the possibility of $5 gasoline prices for the summer, Sunoco’s Mr. MacDonald recalled.

When the officials pressed him on a potential solution, he said Sunoco might be willing to keep a piece of the Philadelphia refinery through a joint venture with a partner that could contribute expertise and cash.

“It would have to be a very capable party,” Mr. MacDonald recalled saying. “Sperling pushed me: ‘Who would a party like that be’?”

Mr. MacDonald said Carlyle fit the bill.

Soon after, Mr. Sperling called Carlyle co-CEO David M. Rubenstein about the refinery, according to Carlyle, and left a message.

Carlyle has shied away from any overt involvement in politics. Mr. Rubenstein worked in the Carter administration, and the firm employs executives who have worked in administrations from both parties. It doesn’t donate to political campaigns.

Mr. Rubenstein passed the message from Mr. Sperling to a Carlyle executive who had worked with Mr. Sperling in the Clinton White House, David Marchick, according to Mr. Marchick.

Mr. Marchick said Mr. Sperling told him the White House was willing to help move the deal along. Mr. Sperling also told him the White House wouldn’t do anything just to help Carlyle and that the same assistance would be available to any potential buyer, Mr. Marchick said.

“They didn’t care who bought it,” he said.

Eventually, Sunoco and Carlyle agreed to explore a joint venture, with Carlyle paying nothing for a majority stake but contributing cash for an upgrade.

On March 19, Mr. Sperling talked to Pennsylvania’s Mr. Corbett to see if the Republican governor was interested in cooperating. Mr. Corbett, whose office was already trying to rescue the refinery, agreed.

The White House “helped with Carlyle, and we helped with state government,” he said.

A key issue Carlyle identified was a 2005 consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency under which Sunoco agreed to limit emissions at its refineries.

Carlyle wanted to work on the refinery without triggering costly environmental reviews.

The White House referred the issue to the EPA, which along with state and local environmental officials agreed to modify the decree, allowing Carlyle to transfer emissions credits from the Marcus Hook refinery, in effect giving the Philadelphia refinery greater leeway to pollute.

The agreement compressed into a few months what participants said could have taken much longer. Carlyle said it doesn’t plan to use the added credits, and over time will reduce emissions. It said the changes will provide flexibility as it carries out the upgrade.

Carlyle’s plan to turn the refinery profitable includes a partial shift to oil from North Dakota that is cheaper than crude from West Africa it now refines, and switching to newly abundant natural gas to power part of the refinery.

In mid-May, as Carlyle and Sunoco were briefing the White House and other officials on their plan, the Obama campaign launched a broadside against Mr. Romney’s Bain career, which featured a worker saying Bain was a “vampire” in its handling of a steel company.

Later, an independent group supporting the Obama candidacy released an ad implicitly accusing Mr. Romney of contributing to the death of a laid-off worker’s wife.

On a July 2 conference call announcing the refinery deal, Carlyle and Sunoco executives and public officials repeatedly thanked the White House and Mr. Sperling.

This shows Obama’s attack ads were nothing more than nonsensical politics.  Imagine what negative ads the Obama campaign would run if it were President Romney pushing a deal toward a connected private equity firm and then relaxing environmental regulations to seal the deal.

[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443713704577603281330597966.html

Oil refinery picture from Wikipedia Commons.

Obama Presidency 2009-2012: Weakest Economic Recovery On Record

In 2012 Elections, Economy, Obama Administration on October 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm

When deciding who to vote for President, the footnoted piece provides a sense of perspective about the exceptionally weak economic recovery of the Obama presidency.   This recovery is just one-third as large as the “Reagan” recovery from the 1980-2 recession.  The recession ended more than three years ago, but people feel it has not ended because the recovery is so tepid.  The Wall Street Journal said:

It’s important to understand how unusual this kind of weak recovery is. Deep recessions like the one from December 2007 to June 2009 are typically followed by stronger recoveries, as there is more lost ground to make up.

The most recent comparable recession occurred in 1981-1982. Yet as the nearby chart shows, the Reagan expansion exploded with a 9.3% quarter and kept up a robust pace for years. By the 12th quarter of expansion, growth popped up to 6.4.%. At this stage of the Reagan expansion, overall GDP was 18.5% higher versus 6.7% for the Obama recovery, according to Congress’s Joint Economic Committee.

Even comparing this recovery with the average since the end of World War II, the Obama growth rate is well below the norm of 15.2%. The U.S. is running about $1.5 trillion of economic output behind where it should be.

This may sound like an abstraction, but it is the difference between a robust job market and lost opportunity for millions of Americans. It is the difference between a small federal budget deficit and more than $1 trillion for four straight years. It is the difference between a rising or falling poverty rate. [1]

[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443477104577553211912280818.html

Job fair picture from Wikipedia Commons.

Big Bird Doesn’t Need Obama’s Federal Handout

In 2012 Elections, Federal Deficit on October 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Big Bird - Library of Congress, Living Legends, Award & Honors, 2000.jpg

Being a 1%er, Big Bird doesn’t need your taxes.  If you have children, surely you’ve spent plenty on Elmo, Big Bird, Muppets and other Sesame Street character royalties.  Perhaps you’re a PBS contributor.  To get our federal deficit under control, we need to cut spending.  President Obama thinks it’s an outrage Mitt Romney suggested easing Sesame Street off its federal subsidy, but the outrage  lies in a President who refuses to cut spending, even in unnecessary areas, though the country’s credit rating was downgraded on his watch.

There are more than 500 cable channels, including channels devoted to History, children’s TV shows, public affairs, documentaries and culture.  Is it unthinkable PBS could survive on its own?  Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 in compensation in 2008. [1]  “Sesame Street is a lucrative enterprise.” [1] From 2003 to 2006, Sesame Street earned $211 million in toy and consumer product sales. [1]  Its 2009 tax form shows Sesame Workshop took in $140 million in 2008 in 2008, with government grants accounting for just over $14 million of that (roughly 10 percent). [1]   The proportion from government was down to 6% in 2011. [4]

“Sesame Street appears in more than 120 countries,” [2] with licensing revenue achieved from all.  Big Bird has his own spot on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. 

According to Slate, “The Workshop earned about $45 million in merchandising during 2010, which accounted for one-third of its total revenue. The rest came mainly from distribution fees and royalties, and from an assortment of private donors, corporate sponsors, and government.” [3]  Sesame Street is obviously very profitable because, “The production budget for Sesame Street domestically is about $16 or $17 million per year, which produces about 26 episodes.” [3]

The Wall Street Journal provides data on Sesame Street’s significant assets:

At the end of fiscal 2011, Sesame Workshop and its subsidiaries had total assets of $289 million. About $29 million was held in cash and “cash equivalents,” mainly money-market mutual funds. Another $121 million on the balance sheet was held in “investments.” According to the accompanying notes, these investments included stakes in hedge funds and private-equity funds. [4]

Everyone likes Big Bird.  He is in no danger of extinction if he loses his government handout.  President Obama should be ashamed of his false claims and unauthorized usage of Big Bird in Obama’s campaign ad.  Big Bird should at least receive royalties for the Obama campaign, but the President would prefer to pay with your tax dollars. [5]

 

Sesame Street logo.svg 

[1]  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/feb/28/jim-demint/sen-jim-demint-takes-aim-muppet-lobby/

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/12/business/media/12sesame.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0

A sample international licensing deal with British retailer Marks & Spencer is located at:  http://www.licensing.biz/news/4600/MS-to-debut-Sesame-Street-apparel.

Another example of the licensing value of the iconic Sesame Street characters is seen with Google at http://www.licensing.biz/news/4231/Sesame-Street-celebrates-40th-with-Google.

[3] http://www.slate.com/articles/business/explainer/2012/01/does_sesame_street_lose_money_.html

 

[4] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443982904578046671220961776.html

[5] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57528812/sesame-workshop-to-obama-take-big-bird-ad-down/

For more on the business history of Sesame Street, see http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/businesses/M-Z/Sesame-Workshop.html

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.

Government Vultures Pick At Taxpayer Carcasses for Green

In 2012 Elections, Economy, Government Spending, President Obama on July 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm

 

Unused parking spots near author’s residence. Photo by author.

President Obama is no fan of American capitalism of the venture sort.  He actually used the term ‘vulture’ to refer to Bain Capital. [1]  Despite Bain’s obvious success in promoting many successful companies WITH ITS OWN MONEY, Obama has been the real vulture, picking at taxpayer carcasses. 

One after another, the President’s ‘green’ investments have failed.  Oops, did I say the President’s investments?  I mean your investments he makes.  Unlike Bain, the Obama bad investments, which seems to be essentially all of them, come right out of your pocket.

Bloomberg reports on Abound Solar’s failure:

Abound plans to file for bankruptcy in Wilmington, DE, next week and will fire about 125 employees, according to a statement yesterday.

The company, based in Loveland, CO, borrowed about $70 million against its guarantee. U.S. taxpayers may lose $40 million to $60 million on the loan after Abound’s assets are sold and the bankruptcy proceeding closes, Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, said in a statement. [2]

After Solyndra, Ener1 [3] and other taxpayer-backed bankruptcies, it should be clear to everyone it is best to leave investing to the real venture capitalists, private equity firms and stock markets and avoid the real vulture: the federal government, which tends to make bad investments to politically-connected parties.  Anthony Kim, analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York said this of the Abound Solar bankruptcy, “This is not surprising at all,” because they backed the wrong type of technology. [2]  With your money. Solyndra logo.svg

 [1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304840904577424583779000656.html [2] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-29/abound-failure-revives-debate-over-obama-solar-policies.html [3]http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/ener1-parent-obama-backed-green-company-files-bankruptcy/story?id=15456414 Parking lot picture by author.  Solyndra logo from Wikipedia Commons.

Are Democrats Racist?

In 2012 Elections, Racism on May 18, 2012 at 2:10 am

Are Democrats racist?

What about Democrats who will not vote for President Obama in their 2012 Democratic Presidential Primary?

We’ve all heard Republicans are “against” Obama because of racism. [1]  Nothing to do about the economy, government regulation or spending, nor the federal deficit.  The presumption is if Obama resigned today, the Republican Party (and whites in general) would pop open the champagne and vote for everything Joe Biden proposed because, well, hey he’s a white dude.  A very “white” dude.

[For the record, I hope President Obama stays healthy through the end of his term because he’s certainly far more intelligent than the buffoonish Biden.]

State seal of North Carolina

If Republicans voting Republican and opposing a Democratic President is racist (as opposed to what Republicans do), then what of Democrats who won’t support a Democratic President? 

Are they racist, too?  Or are there valid reasons to voice disapproval of President Obama?

In 2012, Obama lost the Democratic Primary in 15 Oklahoma counties. [2]

The President is running surprisingly tight against an unknown in Arkansas. [3]

Obama came close to losing the West Virginia Democratic Primary.  His Democratic opponent was serving time in a Texas jail but still managed 41% of the vote. [4]

In North Carolina, Obama had no opposition but “no preference” still took 21% (199,104 votes) in the Democratic Presidential primary. [5]

Real racism is disgusting (and foolish), which is why it should be taken as a serious charge.  It should not be bandied around carelessly.  As a result, I am unwilling to just assume every North Carolina or Oklahoma Democrat who opposed Obama was doing so out of racism.

Might Obama policies on energy have something to do with it?  Oklahoma is a huge state for oil.  The Keystone pipeline the Obama Administration has frozen would have run through Oklahoma.  West Virginians may oppose Obama policies against coal as well as hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas (so-called “fracking”).  More recently, might some Democrats in culturally conservative Arkansas oppose gay marriage?  What about the economy?  In Arkansas, might some even still be sore about Obama’s 2008 defeat of former Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton? 

Could some of those Democratic primary voters who won’t support Obama have a genuine gripe about foreclosures, unemployment or government deficits?  Might some of them be genuinely opposed to “ObamaCare” and other Obama era expansions of government power?  Or are they all racists?  If you think they’re racists, how do you know?  Do you know if they are white voters? 

What do you think?  If you’re a Democrat who opposed Obama in a 2012 state primary, I’d love to hear why; is it the color of his skin or do you have real gripes? 

 

 

[1] https://econscius.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/what-obamas-gallup-rating-shows-about-racism/

[2] http://news.yahoo.com/obama-loses-dem-primary-15-oklahoma-counties-050431645.html

[3] http://talkbusiness.net/2012/05/obama-in-for-a-battle-in-the-fourth-romney-on-cruise-control/

[4] http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/09/news/la-pn-texas-inmate-wins-41-of-the-vote-against-obama-in-wv-primary-20120509

[5] http://www.wral.com/news/political/page/11007490/?group=president

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.

Crystal Ball: 2012 Elections Predictions: Romney, Obama, Boehner, McConnell

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Voting Patterns, Mitt Romney, Occupy Wall Street Protests, President Obama on December 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Happy New Year!

Today’s post is my prediction for the 2012 Election season.  I have made a habit of doing this in the past with friends but this is my first locked for eternity in cyberspace.  I formally put forward my election predictions on New Year’s Eve the past couple of elections.  For 2008, I predicted Obama would beat Hillary and McCain would beat Huckabee and Romney, and Obama would win the Presidency.  In 2010, I was probably as lucky as prescient in emailing my friends Dec. 31, 2009 the GOP would win a net +62 in the US House, +6 Senators and +7 Governors.  I was off by just one in the House (+63)!

Now that I have raised the bar to an improbable level that I will probably regret in 11 months, let the predictions begin.

PRESIDENT:

In the GOP Nominating Contest, I continue to think Mitt Romney will overcome all competition.  If he wins Iowa, it is probably all but over, barring a major misstep on his part.  Someone else, e.g. Ron Paul, may win Iowa but Iowa winners tend not to win the nomination, just ask Presidents Gephardt, Harkin, Muskie or Huckabee about Iowa.  Iowa may winnow out some of the also-rans, especially amongst the most conservative.  Romney has the money, the organization and the poise to likely pull off the nomination.  Few seem to discuss the many delegates available in ‘blue’ states like Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, California, New York or Massachusetts that I expect Romney to win, just as McCain did in 2008.  Obama did something similar in 2008, winning the most delegates in a lot of states he had no prayer of winning in the fall (e.g. Texas and Montana).  I expect Romney will win a fair amount of cross-over moderate Democrats and independents in states, like Illinois, with open primaries.  Gingrich somehow managed to not get on the ballot in important Virginia.

I just have a hunch Florida Senator MARCO RUBIO will be Romney’s VP choice.

Obama will be the Democratic nominee and despite idle talk, he will not dump Biden for Hillary Clinton.

We will get to the Presidential winner below. 

Congressional elections tend to follow the direction at the top of the ticket, meaning a Romney or Obama landslide win could mean coattails below for their respective parties.

US HOUSE:

Some of my Democratic friends have made up their minds the Republicans will lose the House.  History is not on their side.  The Democrats need to win at least 25 net House seats.  All 435 are up for reelection each year so anything is possible.  Not once in the modern era has a President been reelected with significant House gains, not even Reagan in 1984.  Why?  I think the answer is simple: a landslide reelection for a President only happens when the public is very happy with the status quo.  If the public feels the country is doing swimmingly well, the President will be reelected and whoever is currently in Congress will largely be returned.  Wave elections in the House happen against the party in power (e.g. 1974, 1994, 2006, 2008, 2010).  If a wave happens in 2012, it will be against the Democrats, not in their favor.

Another quirk to 2012 is Reapportionment and redistricting.  Declining states are generally Democratic ones, so some of the lost seats necessarily come from Democratic states with meager population growth like Connecticut or Massachusetts and winning states include Utah, Washington, Georgia, Arizona, Florida (+2) and Texas (+4).  Republicans controlled more states’ new maps than ever before and look to protect their 2010 gains in many states and squeeze out Democrats in places like North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana. 

Democrats controlled the Illinois map, which was unusually aggressive in targeting as many as eight Republican seats.   Illinois is huge in Democratic Congressional dreaming.  I live in Illinois and have followed the new map, which reportedly came from the national DNCC not local sources.  I think the Democrats overreached and will end up winning only a handful of GOP seats, most likely two in the Chicago suburbs and by spreading out Democratic voters as they did, they inadvertently forced one of their own, Jerry Costello, to announce his retirement [1] and the GOP has a 50/50 shot of winning that district, possibly offsetting a suburban Chicago loss.  Besides Illinois, the Democrats best shot is in California where the new map jumbles up many Members and the Democrats might win as many as a net five seats.  The Texas map was ultimately drawn by a Court and Democrats will probably win half of the four new seats and have a halfway decent shot at one incumbent Republican near San Antonio.

One of the underreported stories of 2010 is how the Republicans beat a lot of aberration Democrats who had managed to hang on in small town America years after the areas had trended Republican at the Presidential level, places like rural northwest Florida and Waco, Texas.  The GOP did not win very many urban or ‘tough’ suburban seats except a small number around Chicago, Orlando, Phoenix, Palm Beach, Columbus, Philadelphia, New York and the aforementioned San Antonio seat.  The Democrats will have to win in rural areas in states like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York to make a deep dent into the GOP 2010 gains.  Only an Obama landslide would do that.

Congressional retirements announced thus far strongly favor the Republicans [2] with a number of Democrats like Dan Boren of Oklahoma [3] giving the GOP highly probable pick-ups.

Some of my Democratic friends also are hoping Tea Party challenges will knock off some moderate GOP candidates, leading to fall defeats.  It is possible, but the overall impact will be slight, at most a seat or two.  This works the other way, too, as union or leftist netroots organizations could defeat a moderate Democrat or two, leading to fall defeats in centrist districts.

If Romney is the nominee and wins handily, I foresee the GOP winning some suburban seats they have come close to winning but not been able to crack in recent years, in places like Fairfax County, VA, Orange County, CA, suburban New York City and especially in Massachusetts.

Obama Health Care Speech to Joint Session of Congress.jpg

PREDICTION:  GOP HOLDS HOUSE, NET GOP HOUSE GAIN +1

US Senate:

Sobering for Democrats: 23 seats in play with retirements creating open seats in states like Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia and New Mexico.

Sobering for Republicans: need +13 to get to a filibuster-proof Senate.

At most, two Republicans are at risk (Brown in MA and Heller in NV).  I give Brown 60/40 odds, which are a little better with Romney on the ticket.  Heller is 70/30 solid.  A Giffords campaign for the open GOP Seat in Arizona would be promising for Democrats but appears not to be happening.

On the Democratic side, incumbents have their work cut out in Missouri, Montana and Florida.  The open seats are the biggest problem, especially in North Dakota and Nebraska, where GOP gains are going to happen. 

The GOP will get the +3 to even up the Senate, possibly even if Obama wins narrowly, but the question is if the GOP can be competitive in enough states to get near 13 if Romney wins?  The answer oddly is, yes, it is possible.  If the GOP runs the table on the open seats above and is able to win open seats in Connecticut or Hawaii (former Governor Lingle gives GOP an unusual Hawaiian opening), hold their own, and then beat some Democratic incumbents in industrial and purple states, then, it could be a GOP landslide.  The Democrats are also defending Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and the GOP looks to have credible challengers for all.  Beyond that, West Virginia is fertile GOP territory but moderate Dem. Sen. Manchin should hold on and the GOP would need to run strongly in places like New Jersey, Minnesota and perhaps Washington state.  They would need a Romney solid win to get those coattails.

What about the Tea Party?  Again, my Democratic friends pretty much have it in the bank that credible GOP candidates will be knocked off by Tea Party unknowns in primaries.  It might happen though where is important.  A Tea Party challenger is never going to win in California but probably will win, anyway, in Indiana or North Dakota.

111th US Senate class photo.jpg

PREDICTION: GOP NET +5 in Senate, taking control.

GOVERNORS: GOP net +1.

PRESIDENT:

Most people seem to be unable to discuss this rationally because their emotions clog their analysis.  I have friends who guarantee an Obama landslide win and others guarantee an Obama landslide loss.

First off, I make no secret I’d like Obama to be defeated, but that doesn’t matter for my analysis.  Can he win?  Of course.   He’d benefit from the most conservative and least experienced GOP nominee and above all, from better job performance.  Strong employment gains, housing price gains and high GDP growth would improve his chances.

How much does ideology matter in a Presidential election?  Quite a bit.  See Nate Silver’s recent, excellent piece on Obama’s prospects [4] to see how statistical models do suggest the further a candidate is from the political center, the tougher it is for them to win the General Election.  This is not to say someone more ideological cannot win (e.g. Reagan in 1980 or Obama in 2008) but they tend to win only with strong anti-Washington, throw the bums out winds at their backs.  Thus, Obama will have more trouble with Romney than Santorum, Paul or Bachmann (none of whom has a prayer of being the nominee). 

The flip side of the coin nearly everyone fails to see is it also matters for Obama, does he run from the center or Left?  All indications are he is going to run a populist campaign from the Left.  The goal is to shore up his base and try to get to 51%.  Anecdotally, I know a lot of independents and soft Republicans who tell me, often in hushed tones, they voted for Obama in 2008 and they are hoping the GOP nominates someone not “too extreme” so they can vote against Obama in 2012.  The risk to Obama is alienating these successful private sector workers as he tacks to the Left and rails against economic success.  Again, the GOP nominee will be very important in determining who these centrist voters flock to.

Obama starts with the benefit of incumbency.  People tend to stay with who they know unless they are unhappy with the results.

Obama will have more money, perhaps upwards of $1 billion for his campaign.  Money helps but does not win elections per se.  Just ask President Kerry about money.  Obama’s money will buy an unprecedented amount of negative campaign ads.  No matter your ideology, I predict you will be turned off by the tone of the 2012 campaign.  It is a general rule of thumb in elections that you campaign positive (Reagan’s 1984 “Morning In America”) when the voters are happy with you but you run a negative campaign when they are not.  Obama’s economic track record means this will be a highly negative campaign.  That is not to imply it cannot work (see the unpopular Harry Reid’s 2010 Senate win).  Unfortunately, I fully expect Obama’s campaign to play up “racism” as if that were the reason people were down on the deficit, unemployment and the growth of government.  I doubt it is very effective with whites though the real goal will be to drive black turnout, which heated accusations of “racism” may produce.

Much is written about demographic changes.  It is absolutely true the country is becoming more Asian, more black and above all, more Hispanic.  I’ve seen projections the 2012 electorate will be as many as 2 points more Latino, which some have argued is a huge plus for Obama.  As I discussed in a recent post [5], the Hispanic vote varies widely by state and the 2008 Latino vote for Obama was 56% in Arizona, 57% in Florida, 61% in Colorado but 76% in California and 78% New Jersey.  This is inefficient from the Obama perspective.  Additional Hispanic voters in California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois will not change the outcome in those states Obama will be winning anyway.  On the other hand, southern and southwestern states like Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado are states Obama needs to win.  Since Obama’s share of the Hispanic vote will almost certainly decline from 2008, he may not be doing much better than splitting the incremental new Hispanic voters in many of those states.  A Marco Rubio VP nomination may even mean an outright GOP win of Florida’s Hispanic vote.

I suspect Obama will struggle to match his 2008 stong performance with blacks, college students and Jews in 2012.  The exceptionally high underemployment/unemployment rate for people in their twenties suggests the 2008 turnout will not be replicated.  In fact, I expect Obama to face a chasm of lack of excitement from Democrats, the mirror image of 2008 when people literally quit their jobs to work full-time on his campaign.

That said, it is splitting hairs to focus too much on how this or that subgroup will vote.  In the end, large macro effects drive all the subgroups in one direction or another.  I am seeing consensus economic forecasts of rather lousy GDP growth of 1.7% in 2012, with continued high unemployment and home prices still dropping or flat at best.  If so, Obama will be hard-pressed to win.  Nate Silver’s model suggests GDP is key and an economy near zero growth makes a Romney win highly probable, whereas he projects Obama squeaking it out at 4% GDP growth.  Mr. Silver is very good and I would not lightly dismiss his reasoning.  I agree GDP and unemployment and a general sense of wealth (especially housing values) are important, more so than a lot of the “debating skills” sorts of things that matter, but only at the margins.  As shown in polls, Obama’s major legislative achievements are unpopular with voters (Health Care/”ObamaCare” and the Stimulus).

What of Third Parties?  Usually much overrated, third parties and independent campaigns could, if well-financed, impact the campaign.  More likely than not, none will be.  A Trump or Ron Paul third-party run might be Obama’s best bet.  I am unconvinced a Bloomberg run would necessarily help Obama so much, perhaps even having an unexpected impact of making some states like Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, Washington and Massachusetts more competitive for the Republicans.  That said, a billion dollar run by someone like Bloomberg would certainly stir things up.

Another factor might be the Occupy movements, which petered out with the cold but will probably return in the Spring.  The Occupy movements turned violent with vandalism and police confrontations near the end.  I fear they will be more violent and destructive if they gear back up because in the odd calculus of media attention just camping out gets old for the TV news.  The pressure to do something outrageous grows and mentally imbalanced Occupy participants may take the most heated rhetoric to terrible extremes.  If I know the American voter, political violence always backfires and thus, an Occupy shooting of say, an oil executive or man in a suit in New York City will hurt politicians like Obama who embraced Occupy.  Fingers crossed it never comes to this.

Thus, baring an unexpected post-Labor Day scandal (e.g. Obama or Romney sex scandal) or massive exogenous shock (e.g. major October terrorist attack), I think it will be ROMNEY defeating Obama in November.

Of course, this is all my judgment based on today and I might be wishing I never wrote this in a matter of months!  Happy 2012 and turn off that TV lest you be bombarded with ads!

[1] http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/aviation/185349-rep-jerry-costello-will-not-seek-re-election

[2] http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/195795-retirements-hit-dem-aspirations-for-a-house-takeover-in-2012-elections

[3] http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/165111-oklahoma-rep-boren-wont-seek-reelection

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/magazine/nate-silver-handicaps-2012-election.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

[5] https://econscius.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/recent-drop-in-immigration-will-not-impact-growth-in-hispanic-turnout-in-2012/

Recent Drop in Immigration Will Not Impact Growth in Hispanic Turnout in 2012

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Voting Patterns, Immigration, President Obama on November 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm

  

RealClearPolitics.com columnist Sean Trende’s otherwise sensible article “Obama’s 2012 Chances and Democratic Demographic Dreaming” makes one wrong assertion:

“Latino immigration has largely stopped over the past several years. It may have even reversed. There are multiple reasons for this, including the United States’ deep recession and slow recovery, as well as the continued modernization of the Mexican economy. In other words, to the extent that Latino immigration is what accounts for the increase in the Latino share of the electorate from 1992 through 2004, we should not expect it to do so from 2008 through 2012.” [1] (emphasis added)

Mr. Trende makes a mistake because immigrants cannot vote right away.  A new legal immigrant has to wait five years before applying for citizenship. [2]  A new illegal immigrant will not be able to vote at all. [3]  US born children of illegal immigrants will not be eligible to vote until they attain 18 years of age.

 

Mr. Trende is absolutely correct the recent decline in immigration reflects the aftermath of the economic recession.  But those immigrants who did not come in 2009-2011 would not be voting in 2012, anyway.

The purpose of Mr. Trende’s article is to critique the latest update to the popular “Emerging Democratic Majority” hypothesis of Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin.  Messrs. Teixeira and Halpin first argued in 2002 continuing population growth of American minority groups make a Democratic majority inevitable.  The most recent installment argues an additional 2% of the 2012 voting population will be minority, meaning President Obama can afford to lose white voters, abandoning Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan to adjust his 2012 trip to 270 electoral votes down a narrow road running through purplish states with fast-growing minority populations such as Nevada, Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina. 

The Hispanic population is by far the fastest growing in America, surging  by 35% to 50.5 million in the 2010 decennial Census. [4]   The Hispanic population is younger and a substantial proportion are not yet citizens so Hispanics comprised 9% of the 2008 vote but 12.5% of the 2010 population. [5]  The comparative youth of the Hispanic population means a disproportionate share of the growth in the electorate in 2012 and beyond.   Census data shows Hispanics were 18% of the 16-19 age cohort as of March 2009. [5]  When we contrast the 18% against the 9% of the total 2008 vote, it shows the crux of the Teixeira argument.  That 16-19 cohort of 2009 is sure to include many 2012 first-time voters.

One important point Mr. Trende makes about the Teixeira theory is voters are not static.   Obama won 67% of the Hispanic vote in 2008 [5] , which is fairly typical for a nationwide Democrat.  The Democratic share of the nationwide Hispanic vote slipped to about 60% in 2010 and a few candidates such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush won about 40% of the Hispanic vote.  Mr. Trende’s point about President Obama being judged on the economy is obvious.  He also notes Latino turnout has varied from year to year even as the overall Hispanic population grew [6], presumably for the same reasons white turnout varies:  turnout is based on how people feel about the candidates and the overall importance of an election.

A flaw  Mr. Trende identifies in the Teixeira theory is the assumption black or Hispanic vote proportions for Democrats or the GOP will remain the same year after year.  This has not been the case in the recent past.  I believe the Hispanic vote is especially subject to generally adjusting to the Republicans because Hispanic voters have, unlike black voters, voted quite differently based on socioeconomic status.   As City Journal’s Steven Malanga wrote: “in the McCain-Obama contest, 83 percent of Hispanic voters with annual incomes of $15,000 or less voted for Obama, as did 71 percent of those earning between $15,000 and $30,000. By contrast, 51 percent of those with household incomes between $150,000 and $200,000 voted for McCain.” [7]   White voting also follows a trend of becoming more Republican as one moves up the income and education scale, though the Hispanic differential between low and high incomes is much more pronounced, indicating more potential upside to the Republicans if the trend continues. [8]

This suggests Hispanic voters tend Democratic at lower-income levels and become ever more Republican as they move up the education and income scale.  No one knows the future for sure, but it would be logical to think overall Hispanic voters will become Republican as the Hispanic population becomes more settled and financially secure.  To the extent some Latinos vote Democratic because they are offended by anti-immigration rhetoric from some of the more strident Republicans, I trust this will also change over time as those Republicans either change their ways or are voted out. 

Actual 2008 exit polling data (below) suggests another reelection headache for Mr. Obama neither Mr. Teixeira nor Mr. Trende suggest:

2008 Hispanic Vote Share: Obama:


New Jersey 78%
Nevada 76%
California 74%
Illinois 72%
New Mexico 69%
US Average 67%
Texas 63%
Colorado 61%
Florida 57%
Arizona 56%
   
Chart by author, data source: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1024/exit-poll-analysis-hispanics  

The Hispanic vote total for Obama varied greatly from New Jersey’s 78% to Arizona’s 56%.  This dispersion makes the Teixeira hypothesis more of a stretch if it holds in 2012.  Why? 

With the exception of Nevada, the reason is the states with the highest ratio of Democratic Hispanics are generally safely in the Democratic camp, anyway.  Nevada and New Mexico are battlegrounds with six and five electoral votes, respectively.  On the other hand, two larger and therefore more important battleground states in the Teixeira 2012 roadmap are Colorado (nine electoral votes) and Florida (29 votes). Mr. Obama won 61% of Hispanics in Colorado and just 57% in Florida.  A slightly larger 2012 Hispanic voting block in those states will not actually do President Obama  much good if he is winning 61% or 57% of those incremental voters.  Furthermore, Mr. Obama’s 51% current approval rating with Hispanics [9] suggests his 2012 vote percentages will be lower, meaning incremental Hispanic voters in Colorado and Florida may be a draw or even help the Republican.  Perhaps even more so if US Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) were the Republican Vice Presidential nominee. 

The chart above shows how, from President Obama’s perspective, Hispanic votes are rather inefficiently placed under the winner-takes-all Electoral College with the largest Hispanic populations in states that are almost certainly already settled (California, Texas, New York, Illinois, New Jersey) or happen to have the Hispanic populace most amenable to Republicans (Florida).  

Despite Mr. Trende’s error in linking the recent drop in immigration to the 2012 election turnout, he does point out flaws in the Teixeira 2012 roadmap.  The Teixeira theory has a huge hole in assuming minority groups remain just as Democratic as they grow in proportion to whites.  When we look at subgroups of whites which were once considered distinct minorities, be it Italians, Poles or Irish, we see a gradual trend away from the Democratic Party as these groups have become increasingly assimilated and economically prosperous.   Anecdotally, most Hispanics I know personally are Republican or independents who lean that way; I trust this higher than normal Hispanic Republican experience reflects my socioeconomic status.  

That said, these changes rarely happen overnight and the demographic trends show future electorates will be increasingly Hispanic as recent immigrants gain citizenship and the young Hispanics attain age 18.  I happen to be a strong supporter of immigration on both humanitarian and economic grounds.  Though we have broadly discussed racial groups here, the fact remains everyone is an individual.  There is no prototypical “Hispanic” as Hispanic Americans came from myriad countries of origin, some do not even speak Spanish and some, such as Eva Longoria, happen to be descendents of people who immigrated to Spain’s American territories four or five hundred years ago, long before Texas, Florida and the Southwest were annexed by the United States.  Each Hispanic has a unique human experience.  The Republican Party would be wise to cater as best as it can to the growing Hispanic population, lest they someday prove Teixeira’s “Emerging Democratic Majority” correct.

[1]http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/11/30/obamas_2012_chances_and_democratic_demographic_dreaming_112221.html

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Citizenship#Eligibility_for_naturalization. (accessed 11/30/11).

[3] In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I assume the number of illegal immigrants who actually vote is immaterial.

[4] http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-04.pdf

[5] http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1024/exit-poll-analysis-hispanics

[6] See figure 2 in Pew link (note [5]) where Hispanic vote proportion dropped in states like FL and CA between 2004 and 2008, despite significant relative population growth. 

[7] http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_1_snd-latino-voting.html

[8] McCain won 56% of whites over $50,000, 51% of whites under $50,000.  Exit polling data from page 1 of http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#val=USP00p1.

[9] http://www.tnr.com/article/the-vital-center/97938/obama-demographics-2012-latinos

Pictures of famous Hispanic Americans Sen. Marco Rubio, Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM), Demi Lovato and Eva Longoria from Wikipedia Commons.

Are You A Starbucks or Cracker Barrel Voter?

In 2012 Elections, Political Rhetoric on August 5, 2011 at 3:25 am

I am a fan of the book “The Big Sort” by Bill Bishop,  professor at the University of Texas at Austin.  In National Journal, columnist Charlie Cook agrees with the Big Sort theory.  Cook writes:

“More voters might want to just look down their own street: Something remarkable has happened in the last two decades observed in [Bishop’s] 2008 book, The Big Sort, increasingly transient Americans have clustered into politically like-minded neighborhoods to an unprecedented degree. It’s not shocking that voters are choosing to live alongside neighbors who share their cultural values, but this choice makes opposing points of view seem more alien, suspicious, even threatening. In a growing number of congressional districts, it also means that the primary has supplanted November as the “real” election.”

“Seven years ago, in assessing the red/blue divide of the 2004 election, [Cook] observed that the worlds of Starbucks and Wal-Mart seemed almost mutually exclusive. Today, with both retail chains more ubiquitous, a voter’s proximity to Whole Foods versus a Cracker Barrel is probably a better partisan predictor (try finding a Whole Foods in Mississippi or a Cracker Barrel in Seattle). All the way down to the neighborhood level, strong evidence shows that this geographic homogenization is real and has serious consequences.”

“A recent study of Virginia precinct data by The Cook Political Report found that in the 1996 presidential election, 56 percent of voters lived in neighborhoods that voted within 10 points, in either direction, of the statewide result. Over the next three elections, this percentage steadily declined, and by the 2008 election, just 41 percent of voters lived in neighborhoods that fell within this swing range, a remarkable 15-point drop. The demise of the “swing precinct” was just as dramatic in off-year gubernatorial races over the same period.”

“This pattern is repeating all over the country, as socioeconomic gaps widen: Diversifying inner suburbs are becoming safely Democratic, and heavily white outer and rural areas are growing even more Republican.  Independent voters are the big losers, even though the latest Gallup data indicate that a plurality of voters do not identify with either party. The partisans in their midst, however, increasingly tend to be of one party only, not a mix. So in more districts, independent voters who crave compromise are held hostage by crusaders on the right or the left posturing for a primary election.” …

“Within states, self-sorting means that polarization within Congress is likely to get worse no matter who wins the White House. Smart redistricting consultants in both parties have noticed that it’s much easier to gerrymander safe seats today than it was during the last round of redistricting 10 years ago. As one insider put it, voters have already “redistricted with their feet.” All that mapmakers have to do is “drag and drop” the lines.” [1]

The Starbucks vs. Wal-Mart and Cracker Barrel vs. Whole Foods point is very insightful, though one can over play the point (e.g. many poor and working class Democrats shop at Wal-Mart and plenty of Republicans have been known to sip a latte at Starbucks).   The Chicago suburb of Naperville happens to have a Whole Foods, Cracker Barrel, Wal-Mart and plenty of Starbucks all in close proximity in a shopping district along busy Route 59.  Or take a Republican-leaning suburb such as Hinsdale, Illinois (hometown of Republican US Representative Judy Biggert and a number of Illinois Republican political notables), a compact town of 17,349, which has both a Whole Foods and several Starbucks yet neither a Wal-Mart nor Cracker Barrel.  Ditto for the neighboring town of Willowbrook, Illinois: Whole Foods?  Check.  Starbucks?  Check?  Wal-Mart?  No.  Cracker Barrel?  No.  Democratic area?  No.   

The existence of a Whole Foods is not quite a predictor of local voting patterns.  The point cannot be taken too literally as it is a stereotype, though a directionally useful one.  Cook’s point is correct in the big picture.  American politics is less about income than politicians like to say; it is more about moral values, culture and worldviews.  Starbucks and Whole Foods clearly cater to a younger, more affluent urban customer and the Democrat Party had been making in-roads in that demographic.

By the way, I’ve been to all four of the places more than once and oddly enough, visit both Starbucks & Wal-Mart a few times a month.  Perhaps I can help bridge the partisan divide while enjoying a Venti-sized brewed coffee?  Feel free to try our poll and add a Comment below about which stores you like and if it reflects your politics! 

[1] http://nationaljournal.com/columns/cook-report/the-cook-report-whole-foods-versus-cracker-barrel-how-americans-are-self-sorting-20110804