Defining ‘whiteness’

The Republicans’ poor performance among Latino voters has evoked much discussion. How will they respond? I am inclined to agree with Adam Sewer:

I think the studies showing changing demographics obscure the fact that most Latinos identify as white. So one of two things will happen: The GOP will continue to marginalize itself with hostility to Latinos, or it will redefine whiteness to include many of them. I’m betting on the latter.

The case of Asian-Australians and non-Anglo-Australians is interesting. John Howard certainly flirted with race-based appeals and showed a tendency to define the ‘typical Australian’ as white and Anglo. But his two most impressive victories in 1996 and 2004 saw non-Anglo voters display increased levels of Liberal support, even although the Liberals’ appeal was one of cultural conservatism. NSW Labor’s walloping in the Ryde by-election suggests that the allegiance of Asian-Australian voters to labor cannot be taken for granted. Australian conservatives have now mostly defined Asian voters as white. We can draw parallels with the LDS’ likely improved standing among evangelicals as a result of its role in the California gay marriage referendum.

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