The GOP Keeps Getting Whiter
“After Republicans won only 48 percent of all votes cast for the House in 2012 but 54 percent of the seats, it’s no secret that the party enjoys the huge built-in structural advantages in the chamber that Democrats had going for them decades ago. In a January memo, veteran GOP pollster Bill McInturff observed, “If you began your career as a Republican trying to win the House in the 1970s and 1980s, you would adopt, as I do, the borrowed adage, ‘There’s no crying in redistricting.’ ” The current unprecedented geographic concentration of Democratic voters was compounded by the 2010 wave election that gave Republicans unprecedented power in state legislatures to redraw political boundaries. Combined, these two demographic developments cast doubt on whether even a 2006-size wave would enable Democrats to win control of the House at any point this decade.
But could the Republicans’ arguably rigged House majority actually be a curse disguised as a blessing? It’s an interesting question. They clearly did everything they could to purge Democratic voters from their districts ahead of 2012, no matter whether those voters were white, black, Hispanic, left-handed, or right-minded—just as Democrats would have done had the roles been reversed. But in the process of quarantining Democrats, Republicans effectively purged millions of minority voters from their own districts, and that should raise a warning flag. By drawing themselves into safe, lily-white strongholds, have Republicans inadvertently boxed themselves into an alternate universe that bears little resemblance to the rest of the country?
Fresh 2010 census data by congressional district, compiled by The Cook Political Report’s House editor, David Wasserman, provides some numerical food for thought. Between 2000 and 2010, the non-Hispanic white share of the population fell from 69 percent to 64 percent, closely tracking the 5-point drop in the white share of the electorate measured by exit polls between 2004 and 2012. But after the post-census redistricting and the 2012 elections, the non-Hispanic white share of the average Republican House district jumped from 73 percent to 75 percent, and the average Democratic House district declined from 52 percent white to 51 percent white. In other words, while the country continues to grow more racially diverse, the average Republican district continues to get even whiter.”
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