Although I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to this particular election, a few results do seem a bit intriguing and indicative.
According to the newspapers, well over $2 billion was spent by both parties, and of this national combined total almost 10%—perhaps approaching an astonishing $200 million—was spent by a single candidate, Republican Meg Whitman in my own state of California. Yet despite the Republican tidal wave, the strong anti-establishment sentiment, and her pitch-perfect ideological and business credentials, she lost in a near-landslide of over 13 points to former Governor Jerry Brown, whose political career stretches back to the early 1970s and has never held a non-government job in his life. And on the same ballot, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who had seemed so vulnerable during the campaign, won by nearly double digits over another moderate Republican businesswoman candidate. Hundreds of millions of political dollars, spent for absolutely nothing.
Similarly, in the Colorado Gubernatorial race, Democrat John Hickenlooper won by nearly 14 points over Tom Tancredo, and in Nevada, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, whom the media had almost written off a few days earlier, actually won by comfortable 5 points over Tea Party activist Sharron Angle.
In all these races, the controversial issue of immigration had become a central theme, absolutely central in the Colorado and Nevada races, and in the classic words of the Emperor Hirohito, these campaigns “did not necessarily develop to the advantage” of the Republicans. In particular, Angle’s “Pete Wilsonesque” ads focused on Hispanic border-crossers apparently pushed as much as 90% of the Hispanic vote into Reid’s camp, providing him with his entire margin of victory.
A couple of analytical articles running in the New York Times and Politico provide some of the detailed numbers, and possible political consequences.
- Did Polls Underestimate Democrats’ Latino Vote? by Nate Silver
FiveThirtyEight/New York Times, November 3, 2010
- Gutierrez: Hispanics Saved Reid by Simmi Aujla
Politico, November 3, 2010
- Hispanics Saved the Dems by Ben Smith
Politico, November 3, 2010
For years, the leadership and establishment of the Republican Party and the conservative movement have been arguing strongly for the importance of political outreach toward immigrants, primarily Hispanics and Asians. Meanwhile, a substantial and committed minority of Republican/conservative activists have argued the exact opposite case, claiming that a full-throated political assault focused on the racial aspects of immigration would gain far more angry white votes than it would lose Hispanic and Asians ones. This has sometimes been called the “Sailer Strategy”, after Vdare.com columnist Steve Sailer, one of its earliest and most vocal advocates.
Although the establishmentarian outreach strategy has achieved only partial success at best, the 2010 Election seems to show that the contrary approach is absolutely disastrous for Republicans. As a columnist over at the rightwing webzine AltRight has already observed, if an advertising campaign targetted illegal Hispanic immigrants in 15%-unemployment 2010 Nevada results in Republican political disaster, where and when should it ever be expected to work?
The social and political patterns of human ethnic groups can often develop enormous momentum and inertia over time, to the extent that even Meg Whitman’s $200 million of political advertising becomes no more than a fly caught in a hurricane. I strongly suspect that if the Republican Parties of Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada decide to follow the political trail blazed by the Republican Party of California during the 1990s, they will almost certainly end up in the same ultimate location.
Here’s my pre-election analysis which appeared in The Wall Street Journal during the summer of 2000. I suspect the Journal could save a few dollars by simply reprinting it today as 2010 post-election analysis…
- How the Republicans Lost California by Ron Unz
Wall Street Journal, Monday, August 28, 2000