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Obamacare helps blunt the 'emerging Democratic majority'

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Opinion,Noemie Emery,Columnists,Obamacare,Analysis

It was back in 2002 that Ruy Teixeira and John Judis first wrote of an "emerging Democratic majority," in which a coalition of non-whites, women, the young and professionals would keep Democrats in power for an indefinite period. Since then, this theory has had its ups and downs.

But projecting the behavior of demographic blocs into the future can often be tricky, as women and the young have been known to change horses, and ethnic groups do not stay the same. Traditionally, they begin as immigrants who are poor, who sometimes face prejudice, and may feel in need of state protection and subsidies, and change over time into entrepreneurs and investors, as they assimilate, as prejudice lessens, and as the laws of selection play out.

True, Jews and blacks have stayed loyal to Democrats (and Jews are unique in voting against economic self-interest) but Catholics changed from being the staunchest of Democrats to classic swing voters. Assuming Hispanics and Asians will remain as they are is possible, but not likely — and not something on which to bet for too long.

And while the non-white population may grow exponentially, it may be harder to know what this means. The uber-WASP first President Bush has grandchildren who are half-Hispanic; his friend Colin Powell has grandchildren who are half-white; and the half-Spanish activist Linda Chavez has a husband of Russian-Jewish extraction, two sons, and several grandchildren, all of whom (save her husband) are defined by this country as being Hispanic, though a few of them are more than half-Anglo, and the Hispanic proportion of several others is slight.

How they define themselves is a whole nother story, and we may be facing a future less of distinct racial cohorts than of a large population of cross-ethnic people, for whom these distinctions may carry less weight. Mixed-race people may identify as either, as both, or may simply lose interest. What will the bean counters do then?

A second consideration is that even if ethnic distinctions remain at present-day level, people are moved by things that actually happen, like financial disruptions, and wars. The inclinations of the female and young are more a trend than a certainty; people reward a success and punish a failure, and trends can be overwhelmed by events.

In 2002 and 2004, George W. Bush was rewarded for his response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the early success of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By 2006, the war in Iraq had gone badly — October was the bloodiest month since the war started — and he was rapped for it hard in the next month’s elections, which gave Congress to the Democrats. The success of the surge was the reason John McCain stayed close to Obama through the spring and the summer of 2008, and actually led him for two weeks in September, when all the swing states, and all the swing voters, seemed to be heading his way. Then came the fiscal collapse, and in a matter of days things had swung back in Obama’s direction, who maintained his grip on the nation’s electorate by doing nothing at all.

Voters don't like losing wars, or financial implosions, and they really don't like hearing lies. Thus, the country's reaction to the rollout of Obamacare, plus the news that Obama had lied the 30 or so times he swore to them their health care arrangements would not be uprooted, hit the Teixiera-Judis conclusion quite hard. Women, the young, and Hispanics all bailed on Obama. His coalition is shot, as Byron York tells us. Demographics don't rule, after all.

Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."
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Noemie Emery

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The Washington Examiner