Republicans should be concerned about demographic shifts in America, but writer Alan Abramowitz doesn't leave any room for the possibility that conservative positions could gain traction within the emerging majority of non-white, non-married, non-Christians.

Since the potential for additional Republican gains among married white Christians appears to be limited, Republican leaders will need to find ways to reduce the Democratic advantage among voters who are not married white Christians in order to maintain the party's competitive position. However, given the generally liberal views of this group, this will not be easy. In 2006, according to data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, 57 percent of these voters supported a woman's right to choose an abortion under any circumstances, 66 percent opposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, and 71 percent favored a single-payer health care system. Any attempt by Republican leaders to significantly increase their party's support among voters who are not married white Christians would therefore require changes in some of the party's longstanding policy commitments -- changes that would clearly upset a large segment of the current Republican base.

There are several problems I can see with Dr. Abramowitz' analysis.

1. The political preferences he attributes to skin color are more likely to be due to dynamic cultural factors, such as recency of immigration, urban living conditions, and so forth. It's unlikely that skin color alone causes a person to favor gay marriage or broadly legal abortion. Whatever cultural factors underlie the leftist dominance of non-whites could change or be changed as easily as white preferences have changed over the decades.

2. Even though people are getting married later than they have in the past, most people still do marry. As longevity increases, it's not clear that people will spend fewer voting years married than they have in the past. Additionally, there's no reason to believe that marriage is experiencing a permanent decline. Perhaps conservatives need to lead by teaching/convincing others about the merits and benefits of marriage. Strong leadership could, perhaps, work to rebuild the institution of marriage within our society and fight against the forces that are working hard to erode it. Instead of trailing these demographic shifts, political leaders should be working to shape the culture.

3. Christianity seems to be rather cyclical in its popularity. There's no doubt that the church needs to be more active in evangelism, not merely for political or demographic purposes, but because God commands it. The political consequences of this calling are secondary to the spiritual, but will follow nonetheless.

Rather than seeing these shifts as a reason to abandon conservatism as Dr. Abramowitz suggests, I see them as a challenge: if we conservatives really do have a better way of running the world than the leftists do, we need to make our case for it and convince the voters. Demographics are destiny, but they are not beyond our ability to influence.

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