In light of my column today on the main site, I’ve been asked a couple times about what I think of the Sailer Strategy. Political analyst Steve Sailer has argued extensively that instead of pouring substantial resources into minority outreach, Republicans should seek to maximize their share of the white vote. People don’t like it when it is put as starkly as this, but Sailer is hardly alone: Whether they realize it or not, most conservatives who want to jettison social issues are hoping to replicate Rudy Giuliani’s New York City of the ’90s, where values issues didn’t much divide white voters and they overwhelmingly backed the Republican mayor.
Sailer and I broadly agree on the following: Fluctuations in the white vote often explain election results better than much smaller fluctuations in the (still smaller) minority vote; Hispanic voters should be treated like the Americans they are rather than a monolithic, ethnocentric constituency for mass immigration; that it would be better for the country if people didn’t vote along racial bloc lines, but the reality is many people do vote this way.
My main difference with Sailer is that I don’t see this as a strategy so much as a statement of facts. Sailer is right that if whites in California voted like whites in Texas, Republicans would win more elections. But how to make that happen? Rick Perry was barely tougher on illegal immigration than Meg Whitman, yet he still did better among Anglos and worse among Latinos. What lesson was there for California Republicans in Perry’s reelection? As any Frum Forum blogger could tell you, whites in Connecticut and Mississippi frequently have different values. Those values explain their voting behavior more than their race.
Based on these facts, I make a more modest claim: Republicans should recognize diversity among Hispanic voters rather than needlessly alienating them or emulating the Democrats’ identity politics approach. At the same time, they should not allow a short-term hit among Hispanic voters to scare them into backing immigration policies that don’t redound to the long-term benefit of the party or the country.