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Markos Moulitsas: Dems and the GOP bump

Greg Nash

Given everything Speaker John Boehner and his Republican friends have done in the last few months to goose Democratic turnout, you’d think they were sleeper agents for the Democratic Party. 

As of now, Democrats are winning the battle of public opinion. The Republican Party’s favorability ratings are mired in the low-20s to mid-30s, depending on the poll, while the Democrats are sitting in the low- to mid-40s — nothing to write home about, yet worlds better than the GOP’s standing. 

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But 2014 isn’t an election that will be decided on popularity or on the issues. It will be decided on base voter turnout, and the sad fact is that conservative partisans — old, male and white — are historically far more likely to turn out and vote in midterm elections than base Democrats — young, female or brown. 

In 2012, youth voters (under 30) made up 19 percent of all voters. In 2010, they were just 12 percent. 

In 2012, 48.3 percent of single women voted, compared to just 38.3 percent in 2010. 

In 2012, 48 percent of Latinos voted, a definite improvement over the woeful 31 percent who voted in 2010. 

In 2012, 66.2 percent of African-Americans voted, for the first time surpassing white voter turnout rates. However, just 44 percent of African-Americans voted in 2010. 

Conservatism might be a dying and broadly unpopular ideology, yet Republicans remain competitive because their dead-enders always find a way to the polls. 

A smart Republican Party would play to those dynamics (while trying not to agitate liberals) knowing that turnout trends, along with a favorable Senate map and aggressive House gerrymander, would deliver victory. 

But this isn’t a smart Republican Party. It’s one that gets dumber by the day. 

How else do you explain the extraordinary, if inadvertent, efforts they’ve made to mobilize the Democratic base? After promising action for more than a year, Boehner has surrendered on immigration reform, despite having the votes in the House to pass the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Speaker lamely tried to blame President Obama for his indecision. But Jorge Ramos, the Latino Walter Cronkite, told Boehner to his face, “You can do it, and you really haven’t done it.” The blame is squarely where it belongs.

As with immigration, the GOP’s war on women is dramatically reshaping the electorate. In 2010, Democrats led among all women by just 45 percent to 43 percent, while Republicans led by 51 percent to 36 percent among white women, according to NBC/WSJ polling. Today? Democrats lead among all women 50/38, and trail by just a single point among white women, 45/44. And of course, women have great motivation to turn out.

It’s not unusual for the voting rights of African-American voters to be systemically assaulted by Republicans, but down in Mississippi, black voters are flatly being called illegitimate, with chief Tea Party Republican Chris McDaniel describing the GOP primary as “the most illegal election in the history of this state,” simply because of heavy black participation. 

And of course, nothing will rev up base Democrats of all flavors than Boehner’s doomed efforts to “sue” the president, a transparent precursor to impeachment. 

All these recent actions suggest that Republicans believe they need to activate their base. But the data is clear — it’s liberals who usually don’t turn out. And all the efforts to goose GOP turnout and excitement are going to unintentionally awaken Democratic base voters.

 

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.