All In   |  July 02, 2013

GOP embraces mythic 'missing white voter' theory

Chris Hayes talks about the Republican's magical thinking on white voters and North Carolina's efforts to suppress the black vote with Tim Carney and North Carolina State Representative Larry Hall.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening, from new york. i'm chris hayes . tonight on "all in" a high-stakes international drama playing out tonight as the airplane carrying the president of bolivia has been forced to reroute and land in austria. why? because of reports that nsa leaker edward snowden had been smuggled onboard when the plane left moscow. that story is coming up.

>>> also tonight, right now it is is quite simply one of the largest protests in all of human history . what we are witnessing in egypt is a very delicate situation, on the verge of total chaos. we'll go live to cairo for the very latest.

>>> plus, super awesome helicopters. they're super awesome and they're super expensive and for some crazy reason, they're jammed into the immigration bill in one of the craziest pork stories i've seen in ages.

>>> but we begin tonight on this. the 49then anniversary of lyndon b. johnson signing the civil rights act into law. bill moyers wrote on that night, july 2nd , 1964 , he found lbj who just signed one of the most monumental and morally elevated pieces of legislation in this country's history in, a quote, melancholy movement. when lawyers asked him what was troubling him, the president said "i think we just delivered the south to the republican party for a long time to come." 49 years later that prediction looks spot-on in the state of north carolina where the republican party gained control of both of the state's legislative and executive branches for the first time since 1870 . that all- republican government of north carolina is making good on lbj's prediction. legislatively trying undo the gains of the civil rights act , politically catering to those who saw themselves being on the losing side of that landmark law. yesterday we received further confirmation from the chair of the state senate rules committee who said republicans would be moving forward with a voter i.d. legislation next week. north carolina will join the republican government of texas and the republican government of mississippi in rushing through voter restriction laws on the heels of the supreme court 's voting rights decision. according to a " los angeles times " report, north carolina freed from the voting rights acts preclearance provision, well in addition to working on a voter i.d., work to end early voting which 2 million people, mostly democrats, took advantage of during the last election. eliminate same-day registration. and end sunday voting. now, the context of this is that the republican party in the south, in particular, is, well, it's a party of white people . a party that has, frankly, every incentive, strategically, to maximize levels of white turnout and minimize levels of other turnout. that's more or less the tactic the republican parties of the south have taken, certainly in north carolina , sparking massive protests in response. those suppression tactics were not supposed to be the strategy of the national republican party . particularly after the clock cleaning they received in 2012 . because all of us across the spectrum in the days and weeks after that election looked at the exit polls and all saw the same results. barack obama won latinos by 50 points, asians by 47 points and african-americans by a cool 87 points. they also saw that mitt romney actually won about as much of the white vote as george h.w. bush did but lost the election because the 2012 electorate was 13% less white than the 1988 electorate. and so observers of the republican party concluded the party was going to have to change.

>> the future of the republican party , hispanics are a crucial voting bloc , so what will republicans do to bin them over?

>> we've got to get rid of the immigration issue altogether. it's simple for me to fix it. that is in a position that i've evolved on.

>> the first thing that we need to do is we need to be, you know, forward leaning on immigration.

>> the republican party is going to have to ask itself if the hardline position mitt romney assuredly took during the primary season to win this election, hardline law and order position on immigration is a position for them.

>> thus was formed the gang of eight and marco rubio 's rise to republican stardom as the man who could bridge both worlds. now with the most comprehensive immigration reform staring them in the face, republicans and center right are beginning to rethink their logic. they're starting to think maybe, just maybe we can just get by on white people . much of this recent thinking has come straight from sean trend of "real clear politics" who has written a series of extremely influential pieces about, quote, the case of the missing white voter which he has dangled in front of depressed republicans the tantalizie inine ining possibility, they can win elections if only those missing white people showed up. republicans started to think to themselves, if only we can get enough white people to the polls. then we don't have to sign this immigration bill that we don't like and even yet we don't have to, better yet, we don't have to pander to latinos. you're even hearing that thinking from relatively respectable talking heads like brit hugh.

>> i am absolutely convinced this traupe you're hearing saying if republicans don't go for immigration reform , much as the senate has done, they're going to be -- they'll never win another presidential election . oh, baloney. if you look at the statistics, you find there was one significant bloc of voters who turned out in major numbers, below expectations, below their '08 certaturnout and that was white voters.

>> think for a second what the modern republican party already looks like before it made a collective institutional decision to further embrace white voters. this is what republican voters looked like before they decided to really put their backs into becoming the party of white people . just imagine what that party is going to look like after. joining me now is tim carney , senior political columnist at the " washington examiner ." all right, tim, you and i have gone back and forth on this a little bit. tell me where you are in terms of just as a descriptive matter of where this debate is inside republican and conservative circles, because i am seeing it play out and i feel like the "trend" article has been influential.

>> there's this underwear arguments coming from barack obama , right? help barack obama get an immigration bill that includes amnesty so he can have a signing ceremony. step three is. very few republicanses are convinced by that. a lot of republicans just sort of assert that. what we really is the industry, the k. street, the chamber of commerce pushing for something that will bring in more workers and that will help business. this cuts against the idea of trying to get the missing white voters. because the missing white voters aren't the southerners that you spent the opening talking about. the missing white voters are people in pennsylvania. in ohio. all the way down to nevada. who are working class whites, who feel left out by both democrats and republicans .

>> so this is a fascinating analogy. first, take them in steps. i completely agree, here's what i would say about the marco rubio thing. i agree passing comprehensive immigration reform , with republican votes, marco rubio at the signing ceremony, that's going to turn the boat around for latino voters. i agree that is magical thinking . what i do think is this, having the house republican caucus kill this bill when the hopes of 11 million people are on the line will be absolutely deathly destructive for a long period of time with that bloc of voters. don't you think that?

>> yes. and this is one reason that rubio bringing it up was, i think, stabbing his own party in the back because you give this great opening for the people to attack republicans as being racist, as hating hispanics. republicans ought to be trying to get more hispanic and more black voters in. not just to win more votes, but because a good party will have lots of different voices and lots of different perspectives contributing to it. the way to do it is not to hand the president some victory on immigration. that's my view there. i do agree that the missing white vote is a relevant factor because you look at how the republicans turned away these working class whites because that's who it was.

>> let's talk about that for a second because the missing -- when i hear let's go after the missing white voter, i start to think, oh, lord, what would it look like if the party says, man, we really have to cultivate a sense of white motivation and white grievance and get to the poll. "trend" actually makes an argument, it might not be as horrible as you think when you hear that.

>> in fact, right before this, i was listening to chris matthews misstate it. it was not that there were these hardcore conservativeses who stayed home because romney was a liberal. sure, romney was a liberal. more importantly, romney was this country club millionaire who talked about how 47% of the country couldn't possibly vote republican. so you have the people who spent the last four years under obama not doing well. wages, median wages are stagnating. unemployment is down. meanwhile, corporate profits are at a record high.

>> right.

>> biggest banks are even bigger. so you've got the working class voters who are staying home who aren't going to vote republican. working class voters who are black and who are hispanic, they have a home in the democratic party just because naturally that's the way the parties line up. working class voters who are white , they don't have a home in the democratic party if they're not already liberals and look at romney and didn't have a vote there. so the way to go after the working class voters, i think, is a free market populism . it's saying obama-nomics like a lot of bush-nomics was enriching the well connected. government is growing. government growth is enriching the well connected.

>> this is interesting. this is the third path out of this wilderness would be a class war of populism. there's the ross perot example that "trend" cites. breaking three of the kind of donor class of the gop to get there is going to be very difficult. tim carney from the " washington examiner " who does battle against that donor class every day in those pages. thank you so much.

>> thank you, chris.

>>> joining me now, state representative larry hall , a democrat for the latest on what this republican governance looks like on the ground in north carolina . representative, my first question for you is, were you surprised by the alacrity with which the republicans in north carolina moved to push these voting measures or announced they would be moving them in the wake of the voting rights decision?

>> well, no, and good evening, chris. certainly they've been trying to do this for the last two sessions, so because we had a democratic governor last session, we were able to sustain her veto of these efforts, but they're back and they're ready to go to do what they've always wanted to do. restrict the right of people to vote.

>> what are the arguments that they are making? i mean, the arguments generally that republicans will make in this context is about voter fraud . empirically, that is essentially nothing. it's really minimal anywhere. but how do they make an argument -- i want to play this -- i was thinking about how you make the argument about banning sunday voting as if sunday is a day particularly susceptible to fraud. and here's state rep bob steinberg giving his argument for why they should ban sunday voting.

>> i'm just opposing to voting on sunday. i'm opposed to hunting on sunday. sunday's the lord's day.

>> technically saturday is the --

>> do you take him at his word that that's why he wants to shut down sunday voting?

>> well, it doesn't make sense. certainly hunting is not a right guaranteed in the constitution and one that we swore an oath to protect. so apples and oranges , whatever you want to call it, it seems to be an irrelevant comment. again, the numbers bear out why they want to keep people from voting on sundays. they know that's a traditional effort in the african-american community to have folks go out and vote. so that's something that's been successful and people are exercising their right and they want to stop north carolinians , in this case, from exercising their rights.

>> so if you're running the north carolina republican party , and you have no conscience whatsoever, you're just -- you're just making decisions completely amorally, it seems to me the calculation is you want to maximize white turnout, you want to minimize turnout for people who aren't white . that's just in your basic interest. and you want to cater to that group of people that sent you there to try to hold on to that majority. what is going to break that logic for the north carolina republican party ?

>> well, nothing is going to break that logic. i think they're in what you would commonly call a death spiral. that's the only option they have. the policies they have will not appeal to the working families . it will not appeal to those who want to be upwardly mobile. and they're destroying our education system . so the values they brought and the promises they've made are not being kept. they've only got a war right now on folks who want to vote and want to exercise the franchise and they plan to keep folks away from the polling place except for a select few.

>> when you look at what's going on in texas with the battle there over an antiabortion bill, what happened in ohio with the budget there, and there's just been word that another bill that's working its way through north carolina in one branch of the statehouse is now going to get a vote, it looks like, in the senate possibly tonight. how much do the folks that you represent in your constituency, how alert are they to this onslaugt from the republicans in your state?

>> well, i think you said it right and that's an example. what they're doing in the senate tonight. they took a house bill, stripped it out, added language that was objectionable and policies that are objectionable that aren't relate to the deal. they forced it out of committee, and they're going to vote it tonight and vote it tomorrow before people two on the fourth of july vacation, so the public does not have a chance to know what's going on. so it's not a matter of the public necessarily not being attentive. it's more a fact that they're hiding what they're doing and going to get out of town before the public can react.

>> north carolina state representative larry hall . thanks so much.

>> thank you.

>>> just a little quota on that, that bill if i'm not mistaken began as a bill to ban sharia law and then was turned into an antiabortion bill which looks like will thousand be voted at around mid-night tonight and voted on again tomorrow before people leave for the break. think about that.