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POLITICS: Campaigns

Republicans need not despair

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Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone,Republican Party,Campaigns,Analysis

Add Harry Enten to the list of those – including me and Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics – who think that Mitt Romney’s 51%-47% defeat and the Democrats’ 49%-48% plurality in the 2012 House popular vote signals that Republicans face challenges but not doom.

Enten is a not necessarily left-leaning psephologist (he assures me) writing on the clearly left-leaning (and well written and edited) Guardian UK website.  He makes similar points to Trende, who argues that Republicans will never do worse among black voters than in 2008 and 2012 and could well do better among whites. 

I would add that Democrats have serious problems among two non-overlapping groups that amount to 44% of the 2012 electorate, white evangelical Protestants (a steady 26% since 2004) and white Catholics (18% in 2012 but likely declining in the future). Mitt Romney carried white evangelical Protestants 79%-21%, slightly more than previous Republican nominees (despite all that hoohah about how evangelicals distrust Mormons), and white Catholics 59%-40%, quite possibly more than any other Republican nominee in history, except perhaps Warren G. Harding.

If I were a Democratic strategist, I would worry about these groups quite as much as Republican strategists worry, justifiably, about Hispanics (about 10% of the electorate) and under 30s (about 18%, and overlapping a few points with the former). Both parties, in our polarized politics, have significant weaknesses – and some significant strengths.

Anyway, I write to make the point that Enten and Trende are smart guys, well worth reading. Me – well, decide for yourselves.

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