Republicans Probably Don't Want A Culture War

by Jonathan Chait | April 1, 2011

The new census data showing non-whites growing faster than expected, which strikes me as evidence of an electorate growing more liberal, strikes Adam Serwer as reason to think the GOP will go all-in on culture war:

National Journal's Ron Brownstein explains that, just as an Obama victory is going to depend on strong minority turnout, Republicans will need to "win an implausibly high percentage of whites to prevail."...
I'm not entirely sure how much of the decision was made by party leaders and how much is merely the unprecedented influence of Fox News, but whether it's pseudo scandals of the past two years, from birtherism to the NBPP case, the GOP's nationwide rush to ban sharia and institute draconian immigration laws, or characterizing nearly every administration policy as reparations,  the conservative fixations of Obama's first term indicate that the GOP will end up relying at least in part on inflaming white racial resentment to close the gap.

I don't follow the reasoning here. If Republicans can't increase their share of the non-white vote, they'll need to ramp up their share of the white vote. Now, I assume they'll try to increase their share of the non-white vote, primarily Latinos.

But assume they don't do that. Assume they try to make up the gap entirely among white voters. That means they need to flip some white voters who supported Obama in 2008. How do you do that -- through a campaign of cultural division? Well, maybe, but remember these are voters on whom that didn't work in 2008, when Obama was more unfamiliar and potentially scarier. It seems to me that, if you're looking to pull in whites who voted for Obama in 2008, you need centrist issues, not right-wing issues. That probably means running on the economy and the debt, right.

Basically, I don't see how an electorate tilting leftward, and more heavily minority, shows that the GOP is going to delve further into right-wing culture war politics. That's how Republicans might respond to an electorate with a rising proportion of white working class voters, but these circumstances are just the opposite.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/86134/republicans-probably-dont-want-culture-war