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Opinion

Pushback Majority, not Hispanics, will decide 2014 election

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Opinion,Op-Eds,Democratic Party,2014 Elections,Hispanics

Political journalists have a lot in common with Pentagon brass. They tend to think that the last election (or war) provides a blueprint for the next.

But what we can learn from previous elections is just how far off base the prevailing wisdom can be.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the Iraq war was not the most important issue in the 2004 presidential election. Sorry, John Kerry.

So, too, in 2008, youth did not “rock the vote.” Despite all the hype, the 18- to 24-year olds increased by a measly 1 percent of the total turnout. The youth vote was even less of a factor in 2012 when their participation rate fell by over 7 percent.

And, despite Mitt Romney's assertions to the contrary, the 2012 presidential election was not a referendum on President Obama.

Just as we were told that the “gender gap” was decisive in previous elections (yes, women did prefer Democrats, but there are two genders and, surprise, males skewed strongly for Republican), we are now told that Hispanic voters will be pivotal to the outcome of this year's elections.

While the influence of Latino voters continues to grow, they will not likely decide control of the Congress. This will be true even if immigration reform becomes a major issue.

Why? Because as Paul Taylor, Executive Vice President of special projects at the Pew Research Center, observed in analyzing the last elections, “Hispanics continue to punch below their weight.”

Although Hispanics represent 16 percent of the total U.S. voting-age population, their participation rates were far lower in the last off-season elections when they represented only 8 percent of the total and not much better in the last presidential.

There is another important factor. Writing in the Rothenberg Political Report, Nathan Gonzales points out that despite the drop-off in their participation rate, Hispanics simply are not concentrated in the Congressional districts most likely to be in play in 2014.

Analyzing potential House races, he noted "seven of those Districts could have a Hispanic electorate of less than two percent."

So if Hispanics won't be pivotal in 2014, then who will? Pushbackers. The Angry White Males of 1994 have morphed into the real swing block to watch this year.

Who are they? They're the nearly 70 percent of Americans who think the size and power of the federal government is too great; they are the protesters in Nevada whom Senate Majority leader Harry Reid called “domestic terrorists”; they are the majority of Americans who have a negative opinion of Obamacare; they're Tea Party activists; and, as important as their vast numbers, they are "significantly more likely to vote in November," according to liberal pollster John Zogby.

Many of my Democrat colleagues are unwilling to acknowledge—at least in public—what they know in their gut is coming.

They cite the dismal approval rating for Congress and Republicans in particular as evidence that all is not lost; they say that their coalition of minorities, union members, and the (phantom) youth vote will save them one more time.

But even the spin doctors on the left can feel the pushback coming. The Pushbackers will carry their anger all the way to the voting booth this November.

And then political journalists will be forced to invent a new prevailing wisdom to explain it all away.

Tom Edmonds is a Republican media consultant and past president of both the American Association of Political Consultants and the International Association of Political Consultants.

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