On November 4, 2008, voters decisively rejected the Republican Party, voting for Barack Obama over John McCain by a margin of 52.8 percent to 45.9. Obama won 365 electoral votes to McCain’s 173, including every state in the Northeast and industrial Midwest; every state on the Pacific Coast; Florida, the state that ensured George W. Bush’s election in 2000; Ohio, the state that ensured Bush’s reelection in 2004; and such former Republican strongholds as Virginia, North Carolina, and Colorado. Democrats also made strong gains in both the House and the Senate. When Obama takes office, his party will have at least 58 U.S. senators and 255 representatives, 37 more than is needed to control the House.
There can be little doubt that these results reflect, first and foremost, a stunning repudiation of George W. Bush, who has discredited conservatism without ever being a conservative himself. Bush’s approval rating is now lower than any other U.S. president’s, including Nixon’s after Watergate. Bush governed as the neoconservative president par excellence, letting the disastrous and unpopular war in Iraq become the centerpiece of his administration, making the “global democratic revolution” the focus of his policy, and advocating both mass immigration and global free trade, all the while dramatically expanding the size and scope of the federal government. At the end of his presidency, Bush sought and received a massive bailout of Wall Street, whose recklessness had been encouraged by his administration. That bailout, if the actions of the Federal Reserve are included, totals over four trillion dollars as of this writing. Despite these unprecedented expenditures, the Dow has fallen below the level first reached in 1997.
Senator McCain made no real effort to distance himself from Bush, enthusiastically backing the Wall Street bailout and the Iraq war, promising in his nomination speech that the United States would always accept the demands of the “global economy,” and reminding Hispanic voters of his long support for mass immigration. McCain studiously ignored such perennial vote-winning issues for the GOP as affirmative action, abortion, and “gay marriage,” even though Obama’s support for legalized infanticide and opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act placed the Democratic candidate far to the left of the vast majority of Americans. McCain made a halfhearted effort to tie Obama to 60’s radical William Ayers, while ignoring Obama’s far more substantial ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. So squeamish was McCain about anything even remotely related to race that it appeared at times that he would rather lose than stop the first black nominee of either major party from becoming president. He reinforced this in his concession speech, praising the “election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States” and denouncing the “cruel and frightful bigotry” of America’s past. Just as significantly, McCain failed to offer a coherent economic plan to Americans increasingly worried about the faltering economy.
Thus, McCain never attempted to address the concerns of voters who are attracted to the GOP, or even displayed any real understanding of who those voters are. The GOP is the party of the white middle class, yet exit polls show that McCain won the white vote by only 55 to 43 percent, while losing the black vote 96 to 3 percent, the Hispanic vote 67 to 30, and the Asian vote 63 to 34. These figures are particularly striking, given all the efforts by Bush and McCain to endear themselves to minority voters, including RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman’s apology to the NAACP for his party’s Southern strategy, Bush’s penchant for warbling in Spanish, and Bush and McCain’s long history of pandering to Hispanics on immigration. In fact, despite all the favorable attention they got from the Bush administration, 80 percent of Hispanics disapproved of Bush’s job as president. Obama won an overwhelming victory among lower-income Americans, while also managing to win voters making over $100,000 per year, 52 to 47 percent. McCain won white Protestants 65 to 34 percent, white evangelicals by a crushing 73 to 26 percent, and white Catholics 52 to 47 percent, while losing the Jewish vote, voters of other faiths, and those with no religious affiliation by wide margins. Hispanic Catholics voted so heavily for Obama that he carried the overall Catholic vote 54 to 45 percent.
It would appear, then, that the GOP should try to solidify its hold on the white middle class by advocating policies that advance the interests of those voters, while abandoning the neoconservative policies that made Bush so unpopular. As Steve Sailer has long argued, the best strategy for Republicans is to maximize their share of the white vote, something Ronald Reagan mastered by mixing social conservatism with economic policies that were not seen as a threat to Middle Americans, thereby adding the Reagan Democrats to the Republican coalition and dominating U.S. politics for 28 years. But the denizens of the Stupid Party have forgotten this lesson, with both the Bush administration and congressional Republicans signaling their willingness to cede the industrial Midwest to Democrats for years to come by their scornful opposition to any federal loans for American automakers, even though the amount Detroit is requesting is a tiny fraction of what the Bush administration has given to Wall Street. Proving that he has learned nothing from defeat, McCain told the Washington Post on November 25 that “I still am committed to . . . providing a path to citizenship [for] many of those who are here illegally.” And the neocons are encouraging more stupidity, with David Brooks announcing that “Conservatives have to appeal more to Hispanics” and David Frum arguing that the GOP has to become “less polarizing on social issues” and abandon its opposition to abortion. In other words, the neoconservative plan is to scorn those voters who have faithfully supported the GOP—or used to, until the economy deteriorated—and to pursue those voters who have never supported the Republicans. This defeat may well be the first of many.