Electoral Destiny?

Biology = Electoral Destiny?

Open Left produced a very interesting graph (h/t Cassandra), alongside commentary on the subject of how the 2008 election would have played out under older models of voter eligibility.

They're reading a vote for Obama as an endorsement of 'more progressive' politics, which is questionable; it would be like my asserting that a vote against Obama in 2008 demonstrated that you were a social conservative. Doubtless many people who voted against Obama are social conservatives, but that was hardly the only reason that someone might vote against him. By the same token, a fair number of Obama voters in 2008 may have simply been moved by his rhetoric on reducing partisanship in Washington; or out of the hope that it might put to bed the racism that has haunted our nation for so long.

Still, what the data appears to show is that the Founders' original voting set remains strongly conservative compared to the electorate as a whole; and that each change to make voting more open has diluted that conservatism. That assumption makes sense, as the whole reason that the Founders chose to extend the franchise where they did was that the group they chose was the one most dedicated to their principles, and therefore most likely to preserve the ideals of the Republic they were creating.

The Open Left folks suggest several additional ways to expand the electorate to further dilute conviction on Founding principles, including allowing felons to vote, and "immigration reform" to "extend citizenship." I take that to mean amnesty for illegal/undocumented immigrants, plus a path to citizenship; but perhaps it simply means allowing more immigration. This is not a new idea: it was apparently the Labour Party's reason for opening the immigration policy of the UK in the 1990s. (One would think that you would realize you were on the wrong side the moment you heard yourself saying, "If only criminals could vote, we'd have a better government," but whatever.)

Now, for those of us who are on the other side -- whose interest is in preserving America's attachment to the Founding vision -- there is an important question raised by all this:

To what degree are the Founding principles stronger in the original voting group because of immutable human characteristics?

If, in other words, being "male" or "white" is the most important marker, that's a problem because there are fewer white men in America these days, relative to everyone else. However, if mutable characteristics like "property owning" or "marriage" are the most important things, much can be done to encourage those institutions' stability (and therefore to build the strength of the part of the citizenry attached to the Founding vision).

For example, men are more often conservatives; but among women, marriage is a powerful marker, at least on the allied question of whether they tend to vote Republican or Democrat. (Rather a different question than attraction to Founding principles! But it's the best data I know of touching the question, and of a piece with the data that Open Left is using.) We could say, then, that "married women" are less reliable as a conservative voting bloc than "men," though very much more reliable than "women" as a whole; but are "married people" a more reliable voting bloc than you can get by making a distinction based on sex?

I'd assume that they are -- in 2004, married voters went 60/40 for Bush over Kerry, while unmarried voters went 60/40 for Kerry over Bush. To get that strong a break out of Open Left's numbers, you have to go all the way back to "Adult white landowning males." The American Conservative argued as much in 2008, putting out data to show that family formation was the key to conservatism. There are clear exceptions to this, though: black voters are an outlier, with strongly coherent voting patterns, and in 2006, at least, the anti-Republican wave broke the married-voter pattern.

Voting against Republicans is not a bad thing, though, and it's a poor proxy for the question that is really interesting. How to encourage an electorate that is more devoted to the Founding principles? That's the core issue.

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