Posted on October 26, 2020

American Politics: Beyond Black and White

Chris Roberts, American Renaissance, October 26, 2020

Consider two congressional districts by racial mix and median income:

  • 1.5 percent black, 1.8 percent Asian, 55.8 percent white, 39.8 percent Hispanic, and 2.7 percent American Indian; median income: $57,560
  • 2.2 percent black, 20.9 percent Asian, 57.9 percent white, 17.1 percent Hispanic, and 0.5 percent American Indian; median income: $141,661

Both have similar shares of whites and blacks, but one district is solidly Democrat and the other is solidly Republican. Which is which?

Many people would guess that the richer district is Republican, because that party is often said to be the party of the rich.

Monopoly Man Mural

A loyal Republican?

The first, and poorer, district is Washington’s 4th, which hasn’t had a Democrat representative for more than 25 years.

The richer district is California’s 18th, which hasn’t had a Republican representative for more than 45 years.

Each is part of the increasing “realignment” of America’s political parties, and each is one of many similar districts.

Some readers may suspect that Washington’s 4th congressional district is an outlier, that there are very few places with such a large Hispanic population that consistently elect Republicans. That is not the case. So long as a district is largely middle-class and has few blacks and Asians, a large number of Hispanics and/or American Indians will not turn it solidly blue. Consider these districts: 

  • Arizona’s 1st district: 1.3 percent black, 0.5 percent Asian, 51.7 percent white, 16.4 percent Hispanic, 22.6 percent American Indian, and 7.5 percent “other;” median income: $50,303. Since the 1990s, its congressional races have been very competitive, but it votes Republican every presidential cycle. 
  • California’s 23rd district: 6.4 percent black, 4.9 percent Asian, 50.6 percent white, 35.5 percent Hispanic, and 1.7 percent American Indian; median income: $56,995. All of its races are competitive, so much so that in a given election year, it’s not uncommon for the district to vote Democrat in one race and Republican in another, such as in 2016, when Donald Trump comfortably won the presidential vote while Kamala Harris comfortably won the Senate vote.
  • Texas’s 11th district: 4.1 percent black, 1.1 percent Asian, 56.2 percent white, and 38.1 percent Hispanic; median income: $55,237. Solidly Republican for 15 years.
  • Texas’s 19th district: 6.1 percent black, 1.3 percent Asian, 54.2 percent white, 37.4 percent Hispanic, and 0.9 percent American Indian; median income: $48,590. Since the second half of the 1980s, it has had only Republican congressmen and votes overwhelmingly Republican for President.  
  • Texas’s 23rd district: 3.6 percent black, 1.6 percent Asian, 24.9 percent white, 68.3 percent Hispanic, and 1.3 percent American Indian; median income: $50,338. All of its races are competitive.
  • Texas’s 27th district: 5.0 percent black, 1.5 percent Asian, 40.5 percent white, and 51.7 percent Hispanic; median income: $52,790. Solidly Republican.

These districts are reminders that a sizable Hispanic population is not an automatic death sentence for the GOP. There are other important factors. These districts have very few blacks, very few Asians, and are predominantly white, Hispanic, and blue-collar— or, if you will, they are all “Brown, White, and Blue.” The correlation between income and voting habits in these districts is important. All but one has a median income between $50 and $60 thousand a year, making them middle class — an economic bracket that leans Republican. By contrast, the five most Hispanic congressional districts — each of which is solidly blue — have median incomes under $50,000, putting them in the “underclass” that leans heavily Democrat. (See: Texas’s 15th, Texas’s 16th, Texas’s 28th, California’s 34th, and Texas’s 29th.)

Hispanic Small Business Owner

Nabor Ceja, a Hispanic entrepreneur who started his first small business with the help of the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program. (Credit Image: US Department of Agriculture)

“Brown, White, and Blue” districts have their opposites: what I call HiBAWs — Hispanics and Bourgeois Asians and Whites. These are districts such as California’s 18th; they have a large population of rich whites and Asians, along with a Hispanic minority larger than its black minority. All of these districts vote overwhelmingly Democrat, and often for the most left-wing Democrats in Congress. Here are all of them; members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are in green:

  • Ami Bera represents California’s 7th district, which is 8 percent black, 15 percent Asian, 57 percent white, 16 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent American Indian; median income: $79,712.
  • Don Beyer represents Virginia’s 8th district, which is 14 percent black, 11 percent Asian, 56 percent white, and 19 percent Hispanic; median income: $110,606.
  • Brad Sherman represents California’s 30th district, which is 4 percent black, 12 percent Asian, 53 percent white, 27 percent Hispanic, and 4 percent “other;” $81,276.
  • Mike Thompson represents California’s 5th district, which is 7 percent black, 12 percent Asian, 53 percent white, 27 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent American Indian; median income: $80,810.
  • Adam Smith represents Washington’s 9th district, which is 11 percent black, 21 percent Asian, 50 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic, 6 percent “two or more races,” and 6 percent “other;” median income:$80,283.
  • Mark DeSaulnier represents California’s 11th district, which is 9 percent black, 13 percent Asian, 49 percent white, and 26 percent Hispanic; median income: $96,950.
  • Gerry Connolly represents Virginia’s 11th district, which is 13 percent black, 19 percent Asian, 49 percent white, and 18 percent Hispanic; median income: $106,527.
  • Nancy Pelosi represents California’s 12th district, which is 6 percent black, 33 percent Asian, 44 percent white, and 15 percent Hispanic; median income: $113,919.
  • Eric Swalwell represents California’s 15th district, which is 7 percent black, 29 percent Asian, 37 percent white, 23 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent Pacific Islander; median income: $119,997.
  • Jackie Speier represents California’s 14th district, which is 4 percent black, 32 percent Asian, 37 percent white, 24 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent Pacific Islander; median income: $117,054.
  • Gil Cisneros represents California’s 39th district, which is 2 percent black, 29 percent Asian, 34 percent white, 33 percent Hispanic, and 3 percent “other;” median income: $89,300.
  • Alan Lowenthal represents California’s 47th district, which is 7 percent black, 21 percent Asian, 34 percent white, 34 percent Hispanic, and 3 percent “other;” median income: $68,300.
  • Judy Chu represents California’s 27th district, which is 5 percent black, 38 percent Asian, 29 percent white, and 27 percent Hispanic; median income: $76,515.
  • Ro Khana represents California’s 17 district, which is 3 percent black, 51 percent Asian, 27 percent white, and 17 percent Hispanic; median income: $141,217.

Historically, white and middle-class districts in Texas and elsewhere have stayed conservative despite increasing numbers of Hispanics, but conservative districts in the South and elsewhere quickly turn blue once they become HiBAW. In 2018, three Democrat victories in historically Republican districts highlighted this.

  • In California’s 45th congressional district, Democrat Katie Porter beat Republican incumbent Mimi Walters. Created in 1983, it had only Republican representatives until its most recent election. 
  • In Virginia’s 10th congressional district, Democrat Jennifer Wexton beat Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock. Between 1953 and 2018, this district had only six years of Democrat representation in Congress — immediately after the Watergate scandal.
  • In Georgia’s 6th congressional district, Democrat Lucy McBath beat Republican incumbent Karen Handel. Until 2018, this district had elected Republican congressmen ever since 1978. 

Decreasing white populations alone cannot explain the change in these districts. California’s 45th is 56 percent white, Virginia’s 10th is 62 percent white, and Georgia’s 6th is 60 percent white. Many “Brown, White, and Blue” districts have a similar — or smaller — shares of whites. It’s that all three districts are becoming HiBAWs:

  • Virginia’s 10th district: 7 percent black, 14 percent Asian, 62 percent white, and 14 percent Hispanic; median income: $122,092.
  • California’s 45th district: 1 percent black, 21 percent Asian, 56 percent white, 18 percent Hispanic, and 4 percent “other;” median income: $102,040.
  • Georgia’s 6th district: 15 percent black, 11 percent Asian, 60 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent American Indian; median income: $92,317.

The least HiBAW of the three is Georgia’s 6th, where the black population is still greater than that of either Hispanics or Asians. The 2018 election was also much closer than in the other two districts; the Democrat won by only 1.02 percent of the vote.

Precise data on the racial changes of congressional districts is not readily available. However, in the last few decades, nationally, whites have declined, blacks have increased very slightly, and Asians and Hispanics have increased dramatically. So it is safe to say that these three districts have followed the same trend.

What Does This Mean?

It would be a mistake to conclude that:

  • All rich people vote Democrat.
  • All middle-class people vote Republican.
  • An increase of Hispanics and Asians, while maintaining a low number of blacks, has a “liberalizing” effect on an area’s whites. 

It is safe to say that:

  • Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democrat, regardless of class. Moreover, blacks are largely below middle class and always have been. 
  • The middle class leans Republican. This is especially true of Hispanics and whites.
  • Whites both vote Republican at higher rates than Hispanics and are in the middle class at higher rates than Hispanics. There is a correlation between being middle class and voting Republican, but it’s unclear how strongly this holds for Hispanics  because: 1) America has had a large Hispanic population for only a few decades, making data on them limited; and 2) a sizable share of Hispanics has only very recently entered the middle class. 
  • The GOP is seen as the party of the rich, but the reality is more complicated. In almost every election, more rich people vote Democrat than did the time before. This trend began at least 20 years ago and shows more signs of speeding up than slowing down. The richest states in the Union are six of the most solidly “blue” states. The top six, from richest to least rich, are: Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California.
  • Asians overwhelmingly vote Democrat, regardless of class. Moreover, Asians are largely above the middle class and have been for decades. Asians, who used to vote majority Republican, are an example of the migration of rich voters from Republican to Democrat.

These two contrasting types of congressional districts (HiBAWs and “Brown, White, and Blues”) are the result of these trends happening at the same time across the country. 

These patterns have as much to do with class as with race. Hispanics in Texas do better economically than Hispanics in California, with tangible political consequences. Here are key economic indicators for 2018 from The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals:


Hispanic Homeownership Rate      

Hispanic Unemployment       Hispanic Median Income       State Median Income       Difference Between State and Hispanic Median Income      
Texas    57.26 4.4 48,175 61,728 13,553
California    43.99 5.1 59,440 76,641 17,201

The median income for California Hispanics is $11,000 more than the figure for Texas, and in both states, it is about 78 percent of the state median. However, the cost of living is much higher in California. According to one MIT estimate, it takes 27.2 percent more income in California than in Texas to earn a “living wage.” 

As Hispanics join the middle class, they vote Republican at higher rates.

The Class Conflict at the Heart of Every HiBAW

HiBAWs are unique in that they include two very different groups of people who vote for the same party, but for different reasons. There are rich Asians and whites who vote Democrat because they are liberal elites. As members of the “bourgeois bohemians” David Brooks describes in Bobos in Paradise, they are left-wing on cultural issues, look down on the “deplorables” in the heartland, and are financially secure. Their beliefs in a a smaller military budget, well-funded public schools, and a large welfare state are abstract — they rarely know anyone in the military, often send their children to private schools, and don’t need food stamps, rent controls, etc.

Then there is the underclass, which is largely Hispanic. These people are poor, and work for the elite: serving them food, cleaning their houses and offices, driving them in Ubers, etc. They do not vote for Democrats out of abstract principles. They want help with housing costs, grocery bills, and medical care. The elite and the underclass don’t have much in common, nor do they even have similar needs. But by chance, one political party — the Democrats — can cater to both the elite’s cosmopolitan moralizing and help its underpaid workers. 

There is no obvious reason why this strange alliance will last. Elites and their servants do not usually support the same political party. John Derbyshire and Charles Murray have both speculated about the possibility of America’s upper class suddenly waking up to the threat of America’s rising tide of color and becoming race-realist and conservative. 

Many leftist commentators believe it is only a matter of time before the rich elites within the Democrat Party see the poor and increasingly socialist-leaning wing of its party as a threat to their fortunes. Any number of events could start an “electoral migration” of the liberal bourgeoisie. Rising crime and constant rioting might lead them to support “law and order” Republicans; radical Democrats pushing for massive wealth taxes and/or reparations might lead them to support fiscally conservative politicians. It’s impossible to predict when or how this tension within the Democrats will boil over — but at some point, it will. A party that relies on an alliance between people who make over $100,000 a year and their serfs who make $35,000 a year cannot last forever.

Revolution From the Middle

A party of the middle class has a permanent electoral advantage: The middle class is much larger than the upper class, and it votes at higher rates than the lower class. By appealing to America’s middle, the GOP won’t just win an important share of the Hispanic vote; it will also attract huge swaths of white voters throughout the Midwest and New England that have been considered exclusively Democrat territory for decades. By building from Donald Trump’s 2016 strategy and focusing on economic nationalism, mass immigration, and crime, the Republican Party could become an electoral leviathan while the Democrats splinter along class lines. 

But if the GOP reverts to being the party of foreign intervention, austerity, and militant Christianity, winning national elections will be a long shot. The Democrat Party will become dominant, and more and more of the country will come to look like HiBAWs: a rich white and Asian elite insulated from the rising crime, decaying infrastructure, and economic stagnation that the masses suffer from — much as in South Africa and parts of Latin America. The best way of stopping that is with a “revolution from the middle,” in which the largely white middle class unites and takes power for itself and its posterity.