Getting an early start on primary season, Rand Paul stopped by New Hampshire and offered some sage advice for winning elections. According to the article, “Senator Paul Rand urged New Hampshire Republicans to become more diversified.”
New Hampshire is 94.6% white, 2.9% Latino and 1.3% Black. I don’t know the exact diversity statistics for New Hampshire Republicans, but if they get a half-black and half-Latino guy in a wheelchair to run for something, they will probably have covered all the statistical bases.
“We need to grow bigger,” Rand Paul said. “If you want to be the party of white people, we’re winning all the white votes. We’re a diverse nation. We’re going to win when we look like America.”
Looking like America is common advice these days. What does America look like? For now it still looks more like New Hampshire than like California. And despite that, Democrats scored some big wins in New Hampshire in the last election.
Obama won New Hampshire 52 to 46 and it probably wasn’t the black vote that put him over the top. He picked up over 100,000 votes in Hillsborough County, which is 90 percent white. Clearly, despite Rand Paul’s optimism, Republicans aren’t winning all the white votes in New Hampshire. Or in Kentucky.
Rand Paul’s Kentucky looks a lot like New Hampshire. It’s 88.9% white. And its white Senator, who did not win all the white votes, decided to visit another white state to tell Republicans there that they needed to look more like America or California. Or someplace like that. Because the white vote was all locked down.
In his 2010 Senate election, Rand Paul won 59% of the white vote and his opponent won 86% of the black vote. Two years later, in the national electionRomney won 59% of the white vote and his opponent won 93% of the black vote. Both men scored the exact same percentage of the white vote.
Some might try to find a silver lining in that Rand Paul won 13 percent of the black vote, but he wasn’t running against a black candidate. In 2004, Bush won 12 percent of the Kentucky black vote. Nearly the same amount as Rand Paul. More importantly, he won 64 percent of the white vote and 58 percent of the female vote to Rand Paul’s 51 percent. The female vote is far more important, if you’re going to win elections, than picking up minority votes in New Hampshire or Kentucky.
While Rand Paul tours as some sort of expert on winning the minority vote, he has never actually won the minority vote. Similarly Rubio promises that illegal alien amnesty will turn the Latino tide for the GOP, when he could not win a straight majority of the non-Cuban Latino vote in his Senate election.
The Republican Party is suffering from a surplus of self-appointed experts in winning the minority vote who don’t actually win the minority vote. Their advice is stupid and destructive.
Romney did not lose because he lost the Latino vote. That’s a myth which has been discredited again and again, but still rises from the dead to push for an illegal alien amnesty, five times bigger than the last disastrous 1986 amnesty, so that next time around Republicans can lose by even bigger margins. But instead of trying to be diverse for the sake of diversity, the GOP might try doing what the other side did, increasing the turnout for its base by actually appealing to them.
The Republican National Convention in 2012 was a study in diversity. It was possibly even more diverse than the Democratic National Convention. It also didn’t work.
Diversity is familiar enough to be met with casual contempt. Every company trots out stock photos overflowing with stock minorities so that they can look like America or some part of America. It impresses absolutely no one. “Looking like America” is slang for racial tokenism which is both patronizing and insulting. And it’s the least innovative advice that could be imagined.
Common skin color alone does not win elections. If it did, the Republican Party could just push out countless white Democrats in precarious districts by running black candidates against them. The idea that skin color alone is representation is still the law and its emotional resonance is sometimes undeniable, but emotional identification is also based on more than just race. And representation cannot be reduced to racial diversity as a winning strategy.