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19Mar/121

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» Joel Kotkin: Rick Santorum’s Ugly Appeal To Rural Voters

Interesting point here by Joel Kotkin, with regard to GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's recent pitch to rural voters ...

Plains towns like Grand Island, Nebraska, are filling up with Mexican or Honduran restaurants. The percentage of foreign-born Nebraskans has more than tripled since 1990. The GOP electorate in the Cornhusker State may be overwhelmingly white, but the demographic trends suggest this won’t always be the case—so long as the party can avoid alienating these new arrivals.

In many places Hispanics constitute the major counterforce to wholesale depopulation. Every county except one in the western half of Kansas suffered depopulation of non-Hispanic whites during the past decade, while Hispanics have offset or even exceeded the decline in white population—filling schools and opening businesses in the process. Hispanic residents have pushed from hubs like nearby Dodge City, Garden City, and Liberal into ever smaller communities, buying property on the cheap, enticed, many say, by the opportunity to live quiet lives in communities more similar to those in which they were raised.

Of course many people—notably some of the older white voters flocking to Santorum—are hostile to these realities. And in the short run, appealing to anti-immigrant sentiments may pay off in the Republican primary. But over time, if they are to survive, many rural communities will either adjust to diversity or simply disappear.

I'm less certain that the political punishment of this approach is as close as Joel and other demographers suggest. Changing demographics don't necessarily equate with a changing electorate. And the fact that demographic majorities may approach a tipping point, the lag time in an electoral majority approaching a similar point can still be a generation or so away.

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  1. Same old story. Different countries of origin.

    Things were always better in the old days.

    And there’s probably always been somebody around like Rick Santorum, feeding on that sense of xenophobia.

    It’s so tragic that6 after all these centuries, we still do exactly the same kinds of things we condemn older generations for doing…


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