Conventional wisdom holds that America’s changing demographics, with whites expected to lose their majority status nationally within a few decades, spell trouble for the Republican Party. But while it’s true that Republicans have relied heavily on white voters for the better part of a half-century, we should also ask whether the demographic trend is really as politically problematic for the GOP as Democrats seem to think it is.
Particularly after last night’s Republican primary run-off results in the Carolinas.
South Carolina is getting most of the attention, and deservedly so, for the wins of Nikki Haley in the gubernatorial run-off and Tim Scott in a congressional race. Haley is Indian-American. Scott not only is black, but he defeated the son of one-time Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond to advance to November’s general electi0n.
And in North Carolina, another black Republican, William Randall, won his congressional run-off last night and will oppose Democratic incumbent Brad Miller in November. Texas Republicans also gave a black congressional candidate, Stephen Broden, the nod in their primary earlier this year. Other black GOPers, in states like Virginia, won congressional nominations unopposed and will be on ballots in November.
In other words, the meme that conservatives won’t vote for minority candidates is crumbling this year. What we’re seeing is that conservatives will vote candidates who share their political values, regardless of heritage or skin color.
And the number of minorities running as conservatives is rising. The Frederick Douglass Foundation, which champions conservative stances on abortion and economics, reports that more African Americans than ever are running for Congress as Republicans. Then there are people like Haley and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, not to mention Labor commissioner candidate Melvin Everson here in Georgia.
Although Thurbert Baker is a Democrat, he withstood GOP momentum in 2002 and 2006 to remain Georgia’s attorney general in large part because conservative Georgians saw him as tough on crime and reluctant to engage in the kind of lawsuit adventurism that other Democratic AGs across the country have become famous for. One could easily argue that that track record has hurt him in his quest to win the Democratic gubernatorial primary this year.
The typical question has been whether Republicans are ready to welcome minorities into their ranks. If results like last night’s are repeated later this year and into the future, the question may become whether Democrats are prepared if they do.