The Case of the Missing White Voters

Of the 6.5 million whites who didn’t show up to vote in 2012, Sean Trende, in “The Case of the Missing White Voters, Revisited” writes:

The drop in turnout occurs in a rough diagonal, stretching from northern Maine, across upstate New York (perhaps surprisingly, turnout in post-Sandy New York City dropped off relatively little), and down into New Mexico. Michigan and the non-swing state, non-Mormon Mountain West also stand out. Note also that turnout is surprisingly stable in the Deep South; Romney’s problem was not with the Republican base or evangelicals (who constituted a larger share of the electorate than they did in 2004).

For those with long memories, this stands out as the heart of the “Perot coalition.” That coalition was strongest with secular, blue-collar, often rural voters who were turned off by Bill Clinton’s perceived liberalism and George H.W. Bush’s elitism. They were largely concentrated in the North and Mountain West: Perot’s worst 10 national showings occurred in Southern and border states. His best showings? Maine, Alaska, Utah, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Minnesota.

The gem in Trende’s study is this:

Perhaps most intriguingly, even after all of these controls are in place, the county’s vote for Ross Perot in 1992 comes back statistically significant, and suggests that a higher vote for Perot in a county did, in fact, correlate with a drop-off in voter turnout in 2012.

Were votes for Perot less about anything Perot proposed and more a f*ck-you to the establishment, particularly the Republican establishment (given that Perot took more votes away from George H.W. Bush than from Bubba)?

A silent majority of whites is sitting… waiting… for a politician and a party to speak for them.

The time is ripe for a Third Party surge.

I would put forward the following thesis: Were Pat Buchanan to run his 1992 campaign exactly the same way today, he would garner a higher percentage of the white vote. Is this plausible? If true, it would be most significant, for conventional wisdom would have us believe that 20 years of ‘progress’ since 1992 has made the very essence of Buchanan’s “xenophobic” message less attractive to whites as a whole.

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