Rick Perry and Electoral Capture

Dan Scotto

Dan Scotto lives and works in New Jersey. He has a master's degree in history, with a focus on the history of disease and the history of technology.

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45 Responses

  1. The section Dan quotes begins at 19:40.Report

  2. North says:

    Well that’s some solid politicking by Perry, I’m impressed. He has a lot of work to do to nail down the nomination yet though. He’s not even outpolling Trump!*

    *Sorry couldn’t help it, the schadenfreude is so deliscious.Report

  3. gregiank says:

    Very interesting to see where he goes with it and the reaction he gets. It would be better if no group was “captured” by one party. I’d want to hear more details about then just warmed over conservative points about economics ( but it is a stump speech so that is to be expected) but it is a change. I’m not sure how willing many R’s will be to put the idea of more fed gov in certain things into practice but it does start a different conversation.Report

  4. Francis says:

    Interesting excerpt. As a Democrat, my comment is that the next line of the speech needs to be: “And therefore …”

    What fills in the dots? A repudiation of voter ID laws? Increased oversight by the DOJ of the deaths of black people at the hands (guns) of cops? An expansion of the CRA? Changed sentencing laws for federal drug crimes? What role does the federal government have to play in improving the lives of black people, per Mr. Perry?Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to Francis says:


      I’m super glad to hear Perry address his party’s problems with the minority vote in ways that don’t make it sound like the minority’s fault, but that still has to tie into meaningful policy positions.

      And to transition straight into an attack on Obama’s overtime re-vamp is proof that he’s probably not serious after all. Abuse of overtime classification is an issue that does harm to the bottom rungs of the employment ladder–hurting the exact sort of “best welfare program” entry level jobs that he claims to support.Report

      • Dan Scotto in reply to Alan Scott says:

        I think the main conservative contention is about the “pebbles in a stream” notion of regulation: the additional compliance costs on businesses from this rule will increase the overall cost of hiring. And costs will increase: hours will have to be monitored more closely, the pool of potential legal challenges for non-payment of OT wages expands, etc. These regulations add up.

        The lowest-paying jobs (less than $23,660) were already covered by OT regulations, so this should not affect those people other than by increasing their employers’ compliance costs. There are potential knock-on effects of that. If I have to start paying OT to an employee making $45,000 a year, then maybe I choose not to hire an entry level employee at $22,000, as a way to keep my labor costs steady.

        My main objection to the Obama administration’s domestic policy is that it has consistently increased the costs of hiring. The overtime regulation is perhaps less relevant on that front than, say, PPACA, but it was topical and another log on the pile, of sorts.Report

        • I can see how the PPACA raises (some) hiring costs, but overtime? Overtime is generally a failure of scheduling; if an employer hires someone on and assumes they’re going to be doing so much overtime that it eats up a second salary, they’re doing it wrong.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to David Parsons says:

            Well, see, despite the ‘Mythical Man Month’ being old enough to have a kid old enough to drink (more or less), and despite the fact that it’s been pretty well proven that the average human being’s productivity falls off a fucking cliff around 40 or so hours a week, management tends to persist in bottom lining salary without checking productivity.

            So paying someone to work regular 60 hours (which, if they’re salaried, is at best 4 to 1 comp time) seems ‘cheaper’ because salary+benefits than the cost of that 20 hours a week. (It’s a HUGE savings if the guy is salaried).

            But, of course, the dude working 60 or 80 hours a week isn’t getting much shit done past 40. So it’s cheaper, in terms of productivity, to justhire another guy. But productivity isn’t always easy to measure, and salary is a nice number you can slap on a spreadsheet.

            This has been known a very, very, very long time. But reality is not persuasive compared to numbers on a spreadsheet, even if everyone knows they’re the wrong numbers.Report

        • Kim in reply to Dan Scotto says:

          City versus Country issue, that. $23,000 doesn’t buy anything in NYC, I’m pretty sure.

          Were it me, I’d start indexing a LOT of regs to cost of living, that way we have some equal legislation, rather than flat-rating everything.Report

    • Lenoxus in reply to Francis says:

      What role does the federal government have to play in improving the lives of black people, per Mr. Perry?

      Going by the gist of the speech the answer is: by getting out of the way.

      Although he does specify Texas laws about preventing non-violent drug offenders from being imprisoned, so that is something.Report

  5. Saul Degraw says:

    I agree with Greginak that it would be nice if no one group was attached to any party but that also seems unrealistic at the same time. Would parties be entirely economic in their outlook?

    ETA: It seems that the entire problem of capture has to deal with social issues. I know plenty of people who would be GOP for fiscal issues but it is the social stuff that drives them away whether it is about race, sexuality, religion, etc. Another part is not impressed by the climate change denialism.Report

    • There is, I think, a difference between a group largely favouring one party because they tend to agree with that party on the issues, and a group voting almost monolithically for one party because the other party clearly and continually shows hatred, contempt, or utter unconcern for them.

      In Canada, for example, minority voters aren’t “captured” by any particular party, and all the parties make efforts to win their votes. This constrasts with the US, where well over 90% of the black vote and about two-thirds of the Hispanic vote typically goes to the Democrats. I think the state of affairs in Canada produces better outcomes, because it means that all the parties need to pay at least some attention to minorities’ concerns, rather than no parties needing to pay attention to them.

      For example, in 2011, visible minorities voted 38% for the NDP, 31% for the Conservatives, and 23 for the Liberals.

      There were some stronger and clearer party divisions relating to religion, but nothing like any group voting 90% for a single party.


  6. Kazzy says:

    I think it is a little silly to insist that an entire group is “captured” and, in a way, denies them their agency as individuals. And it feels a little awkward that we do this far more with people of color and other traditionally marginalized groups. Blacks vote as a bloc. Hispanics vote as a bloc. Jews vote as a bloc. Women vote as a bloc. These are collective groups that all see with a singular worldview and who do not engage with the actual politics at hand. Do some folks in these groups have a default party they go towards? Sure. But that is no less true for white folks. I mean, what percentage of evangelicals vote Republican? Are we going to talk about them being “captured”?

    There are approximately 27M black folks of voting age in this country. If 95% of black folk who do vote all look at the Republican party and think, “Nope, not for me,” maybe they are on to something.

    So what is Perry going to do about that? How is he going to get those folks to think, “My life will be better if this guy is elected”?Report

    • gregiank in reply to Kazzy says:

      “Captured” is a just a term, somewhat clunky, in this case, it doesn’t imply lack of agency. It would be better for blacks if R’s were really challenging D’s for their vote. That would give them another choice and push D’s to do better. That 90+% of blacks vote D says a lot about the R’s which almost none of them want to hear.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to gregiank says:


        I agree that Blacks (and, really, everyone!) would benefit if both/all parties were competing to see who could be the best for them (with many Black folks (and, really, individuals within all groups) disagreeing on what was best). And I agree with your last sentence wholeheartedly.

        And yet, I still find it troubling when we talk about the “Black vote” and “female vote” and “Hispanic vote” and “Jewish vote” and “LGBT vote” and “conservative Christian” vote. One of those things is not like the other and that very telling. Why don’t we talk about the white vote? Why are whites and men and straights seen as individuals who we identify by something other than their race and ethnicity but other folks are seen as mere collectives who act en masse?Report

        • Dan Scotto in reply to Kazzy says:

          The idea, I think, is that certain blocs of voters are more or less “swingy.” Back when the book was published, white voters were super-swingy. They’ve become more Republican–and less of the electorate–since, so it might make more sense to view white voters as more of a bloc of some sort going forward. But it’s hard to “capture” a bloc if it’s 70% of the electorate; much easier if it’s 12-14%.Report

          • gregiank in reply to Dan Scotto says:

            White voters is a large category and really should be broken down. As i remember whites voted more for Romney then O. But if you break it down by regions, all the regions were approximately 55-60 for R’s except for the south which was far more for R’s. White’s aren’t a monolithic bloc and it is a disservice to look at them that way.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to gregiank says:


              But isn’t that true of all Blacks? Assuming that the 22-year-old single Black guy from Harlem has the same needs as the 44-year-old married Black mother of four living in a wealthy suburb of Atlanta has the same needs as the 65-year-old widowed Black woman living on Social Security in rural Alabama is to assume that because they all have “Black” in their little descriptions there they are identical despite having so many differences.

              Are there certain things that are likely to unite most Black folks? Sure. But they are not a monolith any more than white folks are.Report

              • gregiank in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy You can always split up groups in multiple ways. Given how strongly blacks vote for D’s at this time they seem to be a fairly obvious voting block. The larger the group, in this case whites, the more likely there are to be sub groups. I’m sure there are some differences in the black vote based on region and age but it doesn’t seem like it can be that significant. There are clear differences in the white vote based on religion and region and gender.

                Blacks are voting in a far more monolithic manner then most if not all groups. For whatever reasons blacks vote the way they do, they are making as a clear a statement as possible.

                I get how much R’s dislike allegations of racism, but the way blacks vote, as well as many other minorities, should have been a huge wake up call years ago. In as much as Perry might be the harbinger of some R’s starting to get it that would be great. I’d be more impressed with ditching the attempts limiting voting and offer actual solutions to health care and well etc.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                One of the more interesting things I studied in political science was how group population effects electoral solidarity. Among other things, it’s generally the case that being in a minority group increases at least perceived cohesion creating, if not a block vote, one heavily skewed to one side or the other.

                This includes when whites are a minority. Martin O’Malley needed to win a significant portion of the black vote to become mayor of Baltimore, but he needed an overwhelming percentage of the white vote. (And got it.) There are often similar dynamics in DC.

                There are exceptions, such as when a group is just too small or within itself has significant schisms, but it’s definitely a thing.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

                Pew would say that most blacks fall in the Conservadem category, last I checked. I don’t find it weird that nobody is looking at having liberals vote Republican (well, not seriously at any rate). But Blacks (and people of color in general) sit a lot closer to Republicans than liberals do.Report

            • zic in reply to gregiank says:

              It’s also remember that more white people voted for Obama than black people, simply because there are so many more of them. It was the coalition, if you will, of races (Some white, most Blacks, Asians, and 2/3 of Hispaincs.)Report

        • CK MacLeod in reply to Kazzy says:

          Kazzy: Why are whites and men and straights seen as individuals who we identify by something other than their race and ethnicity but other folks are seen as mere collectives who act en masse?

          We do, from time to time, briefly, treat whites as a “collective.” The problem is that if we are going to talk about the “white vote,” then we are talking about the “white interest,” and will always be on the verge of crossing over (or have already crossed over) into one of the fundamental or defining taboos of our era, one that very few people wish to break. Wishing to break it or even to discuss it as such is already to risk loss of access to mainstream political discussion (likely another reason that the “conversation about race” never goes and perhaps must never go anywhere, for us).Report

        • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

          We do talk about the white vote, over and over and over again. Why can’t obama capture the non-college white vote? (and shit like that). Where are the college folk voting? (assume white on that one).Report

    • Autolukos in reply to Kazzy says:

      Yes, discussions of capture (including the OP!) include conservative Christians.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Autolukos says:


        But conservative Christians voluntarily adhere to a set of shared beliefs. It is a (more) niche group that, while not fully monolithic, is far more defined and bound to one another than talking about Blacks or women writ large.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Kazzy says:

      If Perry only poaches about 10-15 points from Clinton’s African American vote % from what Obama got (meaning Clinton still gets 75% of that bloc) Perry could get Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania and thus the Presidency.Report

  7. ktward says:


    For too long, we Republicans have been content to lose the black vote because we found that we could win elections without it. But when we gave up on trying to win the support of African-Americans, we lost our moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln. As the party of equal opportunity for all.

    It is time for us to once again reclaim our heritage as the only party in our country founded on the principle of freedom for African-Americans.

    I’m pretty sure this isn’t at all meant to resonate among blacks or any other minority. They already know better. Perry’s subtext is targeted toward conservatives who imagine this kind of mind-fucking rhetoric matters in an election. In short, Perry is simply working the GOP base. Golly, maybe the glasses really did make him smarter.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to ktward says:


      I read that quote differently and I couldn’t quite figure out why it bothered me. But the first sentence is essentially Perry stating that they ignored Black folks because they didn’t need them. And now they do. So they have to get back to paying attention to Black folks. Not because Black folks… because Republicans.Report

      • ktward in reply to Kazzy says:

        Hence, my point.Report

      • ktward in reply to Kazzy says:

        I’m curious if Scotto is willing to view Perry through a different lens.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to ktward says:

          Meh. The speculative critique doesn’t give much reason to.

          Besides, if Perry is being entirely cynical (which I think is possible, as I tend to view Perry cynically), that actually makes this far more newsworthy rather than less.

          If Rick Perry believes that the way to get the Republican nomination is to play up the black vote and reaching out to it, that contradicts (or is a radical departure from) half of the narrative of the GOP party for the last 6-8 years. They’re supposed to be dog-whistling minorities in rabid competition for the old white man vote. And yet here we are.

          Alternately, realizing that the GOP needs the black vote is the first step towards the GOP doing things to try to get some of it. There has actually been a lot of talk in GOP circles about how much difference 15% of the black vote would mean in comparison to 5-10%. They’ll never win the black vote, but can do better than they have been.Report

          • Or, Perry’s desperate for a way to build himself up, and he picked something no one else would try. Actually, Huckabee will occasionally say something like “Of course black people are angry. I would be too.” But it’s not what he focuses on.Report

            • Rand Paul has also made noises in that direction.

              What’s rather surprising to me about this is that if I were Mr Cynical and Rick Perry’s campaign messenger, I’d be looking at the field and saying “The center-right of the field has some stiff competition with Rubio and Jeb, while over there on the right-right it’s Scott Walker and Ted Cruz” and I’d see more daylight running to the right-right rather than talking about how the party might be able to expand its demographics.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Will Truman says:

                That advice might be sound if Perry’s goal is to win the Republican primary.

                But is it perhaps possible that Perry’s goal is actually to with the presidency? because if it is, that advice is terrible.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

            Alternately, realizing that the GOP needs the black vote is the first step towards the GOP doing things to try to get some of it.

            Which isn’t cynical at all, seems to me. If they can get those votes by advocating policies that appeal to even 15% of black people, then they’re actually better representin their electorate. Problem is, acourse, whether garnering an additional 10% of the black vote (by pandering or whatever) won’t be offset by white folks jumpin ship.

            In addition, I think merely talking about this stuff (irrespective of how cynical Perry’s motivations might be) is actually good for conservatives generally but the GOP in particular. It really should be an issue for a party that views itself as having an American Soul and all that.

            BTW, I had the same view of Obama’s first campaign when he very actively advocated for a bottom-up type of democratic involvement. It’s a good message even if he was just pandering.Report

          • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

            I could see the GOP winning the black vote. It’s not all that difficult, really.Report

        • Dan Scotto in reply to ktward says:

          I think permission structures are very important in politics. Say John Kasich, instead of Rick Perry, had delivered the excerpted statement. Kasich would get favorable media coverage, but he’d also face a huge backlash from conservatives. “Ugh, Compassionate Conservatism II,” or “Can we get a REAL conservative out there?” Kasich doesn’t have “permission” to go there with the far right because his conservative credentials are suspect.

          The other thing: I’m actually not sure this hurts Perry on the Far Right. In fact, I think it might help him there, too. Conservatives love the idea of pointing out liberal hypocrisy on issues of inequalities surrounding minorities, and Perry can carry this message without seeming like a liberal squish, because he has so much credibility on federalism and the Tenth Amendment.

          I think we see this most vividly when the Right rallies to defend non-white male conservatives from unfair attacks, whether they’re directed at Clarence Thomas, or Tim Scott, or Nikki Haley. I think that this speech may be an attempt to capitalize on this attitude. “Sure, you SAY you care about minorities, but the proof is in the pudding. Texas’ results are better. So, really, who is the racist?”

          There are obviously problems with that narrative, but it is satisfying for, I think, a large segment of the conservative base, including those who are often called racist. I’m sure there are some out-and-out racists who vote Republican; I’d be naive to deny their existence. But I think the relationship between race and party is actually a bit more subtle for most of the party.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Dan Scotto says:

            “But I think the relationship between race and party is actually a bit more subtle for most of the party.”

            Can you elaborate?Report

            • Dan Scotto in reply to Kazzy says:

              Oh, I was just trying to get at the defensiveness of conservatives when conservative minorities are attacked. I *think* this mostly comes from conservatives having the self-image that they are genuinely not racist, that they really do believe in government redressing legal inequalities, but get immensely frustrated when that is converted into requiring support for government redressing economic inequalities.Report

              • Kim in reply to Dan Scotto says:

                If the republicans were running fundraisers for Pretty Bird Woman House, or actually planting their feet in the black part of cities, and working for some street cred (run a Business!), they’d be better situated to say “Hey, I’ve got a stake here, and I’m going to make sure this gets fixed.”Report

      • zic in reply to Kazzy says:

        I read it as allowing you to read whatever you want into it, @kazzy

        It’s intended to 1) tell conservatives how awesome TX has been to its minority population and 2) as repentance for past GOP sins to liberal voters.

        It’s intentionally vague, particularly when taken out of context; and the context here is what he did (his actual policies,) and not what he says he did. There’s some discord between his deeds and their results, particularly when it comes to voting rights; Texas plays the game of keeping minorities from the poles to ensure Republican victories at the ballot box through measures designed to prevent voting fraud that doesn’t exist and gerrymandering. Also there’s a real economic impact for his decision to opt out of the ACA Medicaid buy-in that has a disparate impact on Black and Latino families.

        He’s trying to be loftily vague enough that you can fill in the blanks with your own noble sentiments and make an emotional attachment to him as POTUS without necessarily examining some of his actions as governor.Report