What the GOP can teach the European Right.

In 1988 Republicans received 53.4% of the vote in their last decisive victory. In 2012 the Republican vote share had declined to 47.9%. Interesting patterns emerge if we analyze the Non-Hispanic Whites and Non-Whites seperately:  

1988 Election:   
White: 57%
Non-White: 17.7%
Total: 53.4%

2012 Election: 
White: 59% (+2%)
Non-White: 19.4% (+1.7%)
Total: 47.9% (-5.5%)

That’s right folks; we are dealing with yet another example of Simpson’s Paradox! Republicans increased their share of both the White and Minority vote 1988-2012. Yet they collapsed in the total vote due to compositional change. In 1988 Whites were 85 percent of the electorate; in 2012 they had declined to 72 percent. 

Over the long run the GOP is not dying because of reduced support among minorities; it is dying because of the population share of minorities is increasing. The GOP supported low skill immigration based on the theory that low-income immigrants love the Republican platform of low taxes for millionaires and limited welfare services.

Now that immigration is making Republicans nationally unelectable, the GOP-elite solution is to accelerate immigration-driven demographic-transformation while refusing to compromise on our deeply unpopular position of keeping taxes low on the rich   

There is a lesson in this for the European right. Over the last few years the European right has gone from disliking to despising the GOP, due to the Iraq war (which I support), low taxes for the rich (which I support), the Christian Right, Rape-abortion, opposing gay-marriage, Bush/Palin/Trump/Santorum (not a fan). 

What you think of the GOP is however beside the point. The long run political consequences of  immigration-driven-demographic transformation are the same on both Europe and the U.S. Low-income minorities vote for the left in every western country I am aware of. 

In Sweden in 2010, the left got 77 percent of the vote of non-European immigrants in a year when only 43 percent of native born Swedes voted for the left. This is not explained with immigration policy; in Sweden the right has consistently favored higher levels of immigration than Social Democrats. Non-European immigrants are the fastest growing population group in Sweden.

In U.K in 2010, 68 percent of ethnic minorities voted for Labor while only 31 percent of White British voted for Labor.

In 2009 in Germany 84 percent of Turkish immigrants voted for the left in a year when only 39 percent of native born Germans voted for the left. 

The explanation for this strong tendency are fairly simple.
First, it is not in the material self-interests of poor people to vote for the party of low taxes and limited government.

Second, people don’t only vote based on self-interests, they vote based on group-interest. Many middle-class minorities from low-income ethnic groups vote for the left because of group solidarity. 

Third, economic inequality breeds resentment when it interacts with ethnicity. If you are poor and start to notice that most members of the ethnic group you belong to are poor while the majority population is affluent, you are more likely to assume that the economic system is fundamentally rigged against you due to racism, discrimination, exploitation etc and resent it. 

Other than moving to the left of the left, there is little the right can do about this. Reaching out will not make people vote against their material self-interest. No-one has figured out how to make low-skilled immigrants to the modern economy so economically successful that they start voting for the right. Libertarian theory predicts that low-skill immigrants eventually become high-income libertarians. Against that theory we have empirical experience over decades in every country i am aware of that they don’t.

We all know economics is not a zero-sum game. But people seem to forget that electoral politics is a zero sum game. If one side gets a bigger share of the vote the other side loses. Immigration cannot politically benefit both the left and the right, their gain is our loss. The European and American left appear to operate on the theory that low-skilled immigrants vote for the left, and therefore support demographic transformation. The right and the left cannot both be right about this. 

What the Swedish right is doing now deluding themselves that low-income immigrants are natural libertarians and will start voting for us any day now, especially if we accelerate immigration. Actually this may be giving our strategists too much credit. Most people on the Swedish right do not even seem to be aware that non-European immigrants solidly support the left.

Deluding themselves into thinking low-income immigrant dislike the welfare state and like libertarian economic policy is what Republicans did 30 year ago. How did that work out for them?

Comments are closed.