Why would journos tell you the GOP's blacker than the Dems?
At Axios, which seems to have taken over from Politico as the premier hot-take generating machine of our time, they’re telling us about the latest Good News for Republicans:
Democrats now have a bigger advantage among white college graduates than they do with nonwhite voters, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.
Why it matters: We’re seeing a political realignment in real time.
Democrats are becoming the party of upscale voters concerned more about issues like gun control and abortion rights.
Republicans are quietly building a multiracial coalition of working-class voters, with inflation as an accelerant.
What’s happening: House Republicans boast this year's class of new candidates is the most diverse in history.
Stop and consider: What impression do you think you’re meant to get from this?
I think we’re supposed to get the impression that Democrats are not only leaking minority representation, but also getting whiter (or, ahem, “upscale”), while the plucky GOP is “building a multiracial coalition.”
This lines up with the story’s sub-theme, an oldie but goodie: The Democrats are all about ”white college graduates” — which group, unlike the minority groups with which that party is usually associated, one may feel free to insult as out-of-touch egghead snowflake SJW etceteras — whereas the Republicans are the increasingly “diverse” party of the “working class.”
Now you don’t have to envision Archie Bunker with his lunchbucket when visualizing this ancient cliché (which was getting kind of weird, anyway, as that breed of Reagan Republicans has mostly shuffled off to assisted living or the cemetery); you can swap in an African-American in Dickies with a Trump sticker on his pick-up.
Topline: The GOP’s getting black and brown as well as butch! Dems in disarray.
If you go to the actual poll Axios references, you’ll see signs that might seem to support this POV. This issue that wins a plurality among black and Latino as “most important” is “inflation and the cost of living” — which, if you’ve seen the bajillion stories on that subject written over the past several months, you know has to be bad news for the Democrats…
Oh, wait a minute — inflation as a concern is high at 15% among black voters, 14% among Latino, but there’s another issue that’s actually in first place with 15% and 17%, respectively — “gun policies.”
But we can wave that off, right? I mean it’s ambiguous — it could be these minority voters want the streets flooded with guns. Besides, guns are butch, and that’s part of the pitch here.
Oh, another thing: There’s a polling line for “your preference for the outcome of this year’s congressional elections.” In this one, the whitened-up Democrats are preferred by black voters by what I would call a substantial 78% to 3%. So much for the New Honky Party.
The Latino voters prefer Democrats too, but it’s much closer — 41% to 38%. The tightness is significant. Those voters went overwhelmingly for Biden in 2020, so you can’t say that for Democrats the numbers are good news.
But you also can’t say it’s really news at all, either; at the very same time those Latino voters were helping elect Biden in 2020, we were getting stories like this one from NBC about “Trump’s gains among Latino voters/ Republicans have garnered over 40 percent of Latino support in previous races, and Trump’s messaging — and frequent, targeted outreach — resonated with more Latino voters.” That story talks about how Latino voters love “law and order” and other Republican equities (“I like to keep most of the money I make,” says one source, “and not give it away in taxes”).
Axios could have done a story about Republicans’ continued improvement among Latinos, a point definitely sustainable. It could have been — and probably would have been — hackneyed, with stuff about how sissy Democrats say “Latinx” which how do you even pronounce it, while Republicans back the blue and are muy macho. Plus look at Mayra Flores, a Republicans and QAnon nut, who just flipped a seat in the bellwether swing state of Texas.
But that’s not how the prestige press operates. Part of the reason is, Dog Bites Man — it’s more newsworthy and fun to suggest Democrats are tighty-whitey and Republicans the new soul men. It’s not true, but it’s fun.
But a lot it is just this: The Republican/ rightwing message machine is constantly pushing this line at journos. Where do you think Axios got that “most diverse in history” bit from? Why do you think Candace Owens has a job? A standing mission of the Republican Party since the 1990s at least has been to convince people they aren’t as racist as they look. They used to have to occasionally back something like The Dream Act to put that impression over. But since Donald Trump ushered in the Age of Bullshit, all you have to do is lean on reporters. And if you can dovetail your pitch with some lazy tropes those reporters already love — like that the Republicans are the Party of the Working Class — it’s a cinch. Better yet: Eventually your bullshit take becomes one of those lazy tropes — and you don’t even have to lean on them anymore! To paraphrase the old song: Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you lie.
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