When they’re not expressing shock over the growing participation of women, Hispanics and African American voters in the election, Republicans are reacting to President Obama’s victory by acknowledging the party’s shortcomings in appealing to non-white voters. Some members of the GOP, like former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, are even suggesting that the party should cut a deal with Democrats and pass comprehensive immigration reform to win votes from the growing Latino population.
But in acknowledging the nation’s changing demographics, Republicans and conservative pundits are also advancing a new pernicious narrative: America has permanently shifted from a white male-dominated electorate, to a new crop of minority voters who support Democrats because they are dependent upon government:
— BILL O’REILLY: “The white establishment is now the minority. And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?” [Fox News, 11/6/2012]
— RUSH LIMBAUGH: “It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus. It is practically impossible to beat Santa Claus. People are not going to vote against Santa Clause especially if the alternative is being your own Santa Claus. [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/7/2012]
— SEAN HANNITY: “One other thing that we need to come to terms with as a result of last night. What appears to have happened is that the liberal welfare state in this country has now grown. More and more Americans have become dependent on that welfare state. As they have, they have found themselves siding with the party of government.” [Fox News, 11/7/2012]
— STUART VARNEY: “With Obama’s victory, the takers have taken over. The makers are clearly in the minority.” [Fox Business, 11/7/2012]
Conservatives are doubling down on Romney’s claim that 47 percent of Americans refuse to take “personal responsibility and care for their lives” — though the argument is highly misleading. In fact, to the extent that Americans are growing dependent upon government, Republican voters are raking in a greater share of the benefits.
The recession has pushed more lower-income Americans to rely on government assistance like food stamps, but “nearly 70 percent of all benefits of these programs go to white people.” Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the overwhelming majority “of counties with the fastest-growth in food-stamp aid during the last four years voted for the Republican presidential candidate in 2008.” These included Republican strongholds like King County, Texas, where 96 percent of voters supported Romney.
More than 90 percent of the population has turned to government programs at one point or another, ranging from Social Security pay outs to government grants or contracts — including the traditional Republican block of higher-income voters. Top earners disproportionately benefit from the a plethora of government tax breaks that deplete the government of revenue in the same way that access benefits do. According to a study from the Tax Policy Center, the top 1 percent of income earners, those who take home in excess of $400,000 a year, account for almost a quarter all tax breaks, saving more than $250 billion a year in taxes. Meanwhile, the bottom 60 percent of wage earners take in just over 20 percent of annual tax breaks, or approximately $217 billion in breaks each year. Exit polls show that Americans earning an income of $250,000 or more (around the top 2 percent of earners) “voted for Romney approximately 1.5:1.”