It’s draining men (white men, that is)

Here’s a question for you. I believe, but am not completely certain, that Barack Obama is the first person to win the presidency while losing the white male vote. That is, up until 2008, people other than white men were allowed to vote, but white men always got the man they wanted anyway. Do you know if that’s true?

I do know that Obama did not win the white male vote in 2008.

This leads to an interesting conundrum for the Republican Party. The island of white men, once dominant, is rapidly shrinking compared to other groups. So if your election strategy depends too much on white men while alienating other demographics, then in the long term you’ve got a losing strategy. It is, to paraphrase Clinton, simple arithmetic. Some Republicans see this coming, as shown in this revealing quote: ‘We’re not generating enough angry white guys’.

Similarly, even as the demographics shift, the attitudes of the demographic groups are shifting. The Pew Research Center found that all demographics are increasing in their approval of gay marriage, with the youngest age groups solidly in favor. It’s easy to see that playing for the anti gay marriage vote is also, in the long term, certain to be a losing strategy.

None of this guarantees what happens in November, but it is eye-opening to look down the road and realize that these new realities are coming, all spluttering rhetoric to the contrary. I think a lot of GOP posturing in this election is what the behaviorists call an extinction burst. Just before an old behavior is eliminated, it can dramatically increase. This may lead to, as in North Carolina and California, some referendums that seek to limit gay marriage. I think there is no question that these measures will be overturned in the coming years.

2 thoughts on “It’s draining men (white men, that is)”

  1. I recently reviewed the numbers from Pew and reached the same conclusion about the surprisingly strong and rapid age-based shift in attitudes about gay marriage. It’s inevitable, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of chaos surrounding the issue over the next few years.

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