The Obama campaign is hoping the idea that the Republican Party is a party for "old, straight, white men" will catch on outside college dorm rooms, and President Obama has made a series of policy decisions to spread the perception. "To many Republicans, the president’s strategy is very crass — and potentially very effective," Politico's Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen report. "The threat of being marginalized as an aging, almost all-white, mostly male party is real and worth fretting about, they say."
The party faces stark demographic realities, Politico reports. Republicans get 87 percent of their votes from white people, but whites' share of the electorate is shrinking. In 1976, 88 percent of voters were white. In 2008, only 74 percent were white. Total minority groups grew from 12 percent to 26 percent.
Since the beginning of the election year, Obama has made several policy decisions that are clearly meant to exploit that:
Contraception. In Feburary, the Obama campaign announced it would require religious institutions to cover birth control, and, after conservative protest and an all-male congressional hearing on the issue, offered a compromise that required coverage but didn't demand the religious organizations pay for it.
Poll result: A Fox News poll showed 61 percent of voters thought employers should have to cover birth control, and two-thirds of women thought so. A CBS poll showed similar results. Obama opened up a huge lead over Romney among women, but it slowly shrank. In March, Pew Research Center found a 20-point gender gap. In April, ABC News found a 19-point gender gap. In May, Obama had a 12-point advantage over Romney among women in swing states, USA Today found.
Gay marriage. In May, Obama announced he supported gay marriage.
Poll result: 51 percent approved of Obama's new position, while 45 percent disapproved, USA Today found May 11. Obama fared better among some key constituencies: "Younger respondents and respondents with a higher level of education are more likely to approve of Obama's position on the issue." Perhaps more important, in the 90 minutes after the announcement, Obama raised $1 million.
Immigration: Last week, Obama issued an executive order delaying the deportation of young illegal immigrants brought to America as kids.
Poll result: Latinos support Obama over Romney by 61 percent to 32 percent, Public Policy Polling finds. Politico's James Hohmann notes that last week, before the policy change, Latinos were voting for Obama by 52 percent to 32 percent. And a new Bloomberg poll finds that while a large majority of independent voters, 66 percent, approve of Obama's decision, 56 percent of likely Republican voters oppose it.
Is this cynical and terrible or an awesome testament to the growing power of once-marginalized people? Perhaps it depends on whether the policy affects you. "In that Republican Party, there is a tolerance problem," Carmen Nieves, who lives in New York and is of Puerto Rican heritage, told Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer. "These are things that have to be done, and I’m expecting them to be done... I see a person who is doing his job."
For a contrasting view, look at a popular post at the conservative blog Hot Air by the blogger Karl. Karl writes that "The Obama campaign does not need an intervention" because the gifts to these groups is all Obama knows how to do. In six paragraphs, Karl makes some reference to "Democrat client groups" four times. He writes that Bill Clinton was once a slave to these groups:
The client groups of the Democratic party pushed him leftward during his first two years (e.g, gays in the military, tax hikes, gun control and midnight basketball, Hillarycare), resulting in the first GOP Congress in 40 years.
… before eventually overcoming them. But of course, "gays in the military, tax hikes, gun control and midnight basketball, Hillarycare" are all things that swing voters and independents actually want. They approve of gays in the military, they want tax hikes (at least for the rich), they want to cut the crime rate. While voters are split on gun control now, that's a recent development -- in the 1990, a large majority favored gun control (and a majority of women still do). As for health care, Obamacare is unpopular, but in October 2008, 62 percent agreed "it's more important than ever to take on health care reform," Kaiser found.
But Karl concludes that Obama will never triangulate like Clinton did.
Barack Obama’s campaign is a series of panders to Democrat client groups because that is who he is and what he does. His recent camapign speech in Cleveland was not the advertised “reset” not only due to message discipline, but also because he is proud to offer nothing new. Contra the delusions of the establishment, Obama is a progressive ideologue. He believes he already has the answers. New solutions are not required. Indeed, beyond picayune gimmicks like the “Buffett rule,” any solutions Obama has to offer are likely as unpopular as his other big ideas.
It's true that many of Obama's ideas are unpopular with white guys. But white guys do not control the election anymore.