[Posted by Karl]
Jonathan Chait plays the hits in a lengthy diatribe for New York magazine:
The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a natural-majority coalition for Democrats.
The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. And the trends were even more striking in some key swing states. Judis and Teixeira highlighted Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, with skyrocketing Latino populations, and Virginia and North Carolina, with their influx of college-educated whites, as the most fertile grounds for the expanding Democratic base.
Obama’s victory carried out the blueprint. Campaign reporters cast the election as a triumph of Obama’s inspirational message and cutting-edge organization, but above all his sweeping win reflected simple demography.
The people responsible for the Emerging Democratic Majority theory, being marginally less deluded that Chait, have already been considering their fallback positions for 2012:
Teixeira, writing with John Halpin, argues in “The Path to 270: Demographics versus Economics in the 2012 Presidential Election,” that in order to be re-elected, President Obama must keep his losses among white college graduates to the 4-point margin of 2008 (47-51). Why? Otherwise he will not be able to survive a repetition of 2010, when white working-class voters supported Republican House candidates by a record-setting margin of 63-33.
Obama’s alternative path to victory, according to Teixeira and Halpin, would be to keep his losses among all white voters at the same level John Kerry did in 2004, when he lost them by 17 points, 58-41. This would be a step backwards for Obama, who lost among all whites in 2008 by only 12 points (55-43).
Not many pollsters regularly break down their data this way, but Quinnipiac does. Their latest national poll shows Obama in striking distance with these demographics, but the fact that Obama is now considered a known quantity must worry more savvy party insiders about the incumbent’s ceiling.
Chait rambles for four pages of straight-line projection, assuming that the GOP is fighting “history.” It as though the USSR had not disappeared, the PRC had not retreated from communism to fascism, and the social democracies of Europe were not slowly collapsing under the weight of their transnational progressive ambitions. There is not a word of how the Emerging Democratic Majority holds up when we run out of money. For someone who can spot magical thinking in other liberals, Chait is bad at spotting it in himself.