The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Four Pieces

That every San Antonian (and Texan) needs to read.

  1. Chris Bell's speech to the Tejano Democrats.
  2. Garance Franke-Rupta's, of the American Prospect, take on Dem minority efforts.
  3. Ed Kilgore's piece on Latinos, the Democratic party, and demographics.
  4. Greg Wythe's response to Ed Kilgore's post, and his own thoughts on the matter.

I'm on record here saying that I never bet on a campaign that relies on turnout rather than on persuasion. And while there are specific things that need to be done- like spend more money on Hispanic media than on Bob "I'm the political consultant equivalent of the Atlanta Braves" Shrum- I don't know if anything really different needs to be done for Hispanics, other than simple outreach.

But this will take a slight increase in money and a major increase in people. Which means that the onus is on us.

And it also has to happen while we targetting soft Republicans and Independents. Because as Ed Kilgore says-

But as my friend Mark Gersh, the number-crunching wizard of the National Committee for an Effective Congress, always points out, percentages don't win elections; votes do. And small percentage increases from large groups generate more votes than large percentage increases from small groups. That's why the little-recognized but central story of the 2004 presidential election was that a smaller percentage increase in ballots from non-Latino white voters more than exceeded the votes produced by near-record turnout among minority voters as a whole.

This does not--let me repeat this--does not mean that Democrats should stop worrying about, or working among, minority voters. It specifically does not mean that Democrats should stop obsessing about now to reach Latino voters. Even if the Latino vote is growing less rapidly, in absolute terms, than some Democrats seem to assume, maintaining the current Democratic advantage is well worth every effort, and moreover, the Latino voting boom will definitely arrive in the relatively near future.

What Democrats cannot do, however, is to comfort ourselves with the illusion that Latino voter growth will offset our ever-increasing weakness among white middle-class voters generally, or white married voters with kids specifically. (In fact, the upwardly mobile Latinos most likely to vote largely share the values and aspirations of middle-class non-Latino white voters). We need a strategy, a message, and an agenda that will make inroads into Republican majorities in those groups while continuing to attract and energize minority voters as well. We can't simply wait for demography to save us.
We got ourselves into this mess, so now we've got to do what seems to be the Herculean task of getting us out of it.