I am going to take on a fairly controversial topic in my first post back from my self-imposed hiatus. It seems in almost every aspect of society today the white male is derided or at a disadvantage. Since white males have dominated society for so long government programs are designed to help everybody but them: affirmative action, Title 9 and diversity programs are just the first few that come to mind. So it is not surprising so many of these voters stayed home in 2012.
Just food for thought here but if whites, particularly white males, had turned out in 2012 equal to 2004 and voted for Romney he would have narrowly won the electoral college. But instead, they stayed home and the election occurred as it did. So what does this say about the white male voter, who is still the bulk of the GOP’s base? These voters are disenfranchised, increasingly worried about the future and unable to handle the expectations society puts on them.
For example, let us play a thought game here. What comes to mind when I mention a white male? The images likely conjured up are masculinity, power, intelligence, a good income, etc. Yet increasingly white males are unable to live up to these expectations. White income has dropped since the 1950’s in constant dollars significantly. Fewer white males are also finding work and getting married. Fewer men then ever before are going to college. Increasingly they are opting to go to trade schools or find what work they can after High School.
This article is not to complain about society’s norms and expectations, though I could. Rather this sets up the background for what to expect from white males in 2014. These people form the core of the modern GOP. Indeed, as I mention above it is easy to see why they find a home in the GOP. The party that wants conformity, largely opposes diversity programs and is socially conservative leans closer to them politically. Heck, not even Obama carried young white males in 2008.
But are these men going to stay politically active. I do not mean running for office, a majority of candidates in 2014 will be white and male. But turnout could be a completely different story. Turnout among white males dropped between 2012 and 2004. This is beneficial to Democrats as large white turnout nationally hurts the party. Between 2004 and 2012 however Democratic leaning groups turned out at historically higher rates. Women, African-Americans and Hispanics increased their vote shares significantly (though Bush won 48% of women in 2004 compared to Romney’s 44%).
It seems safe to say the average white, male voter has found a home in the GOP. Even younger white, male voters vote Republican consistently. Perhaps they feel the same way as their older peers. What these factors say for 2014 is only minor. The GOP will not focus on turning out white, male voters specifically. They will heavily court socially conservative women in the South and try to win new Hispanic votes in Arizona. The campaign message is unlikely to change but outreach efforts to Democratic-leaning groups are sure to increase.
Yet for the GOP this could be a double-edged sword. Fewer and fewer white, male voters are participating in the political process. However, the GOP campaign message appeals to them. This could mean that for the GOP to regain electoral strength at the Presidential level they may have to leave the white, male voter in the dust. In American politics it takes a lot to change how voters process information and as such how they vote. So white males are likely to stick with the GOP even as it changes. But in the meantime, fewer of them are likely to vote, hurting the GOP and hurting the political power of white males in a society where a lot of their power is already gone and only exists in the imaginations of individuals.