By Comson Cao
Famed economist and political commentator Thomas Sowell once said “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear”. It is incredibly difficult to stick to the pursuit of truth no matter what, but it’s even harder to speak out on it when it’s against your own team. At least, that would be the case if I were actually on said team. Fortunately for me, however, I do not consider myself to be a ‘conservative.’ Yet I maintain that if conservatives actually care about winning, they need to seriously reassess their strategy. So whether you’re a liberal who likes to read conservative-bashing or a conservative who actually wants to win, then please continue reading.
First off, American conservatives are often just dumber than American liberals. Using educational attainment as a proxy for intelligence, it’s obvious that Democrats are winning over the more intelligent. A 2016 report from Pew Research Center found that the higher the education level, the greater the percentage of respondents who identified themselves as Democrats, and among those who are either are or lean Democrat, higher education levels predict having more liberal views. A 2020 report from Pew Research Center reveals that in 2018/2019 (the years were combined due to small sample size), 57% of college graduates either identify as or lean Democrat while only 37% identified as or lean Republican. Additionally, according to a 2022 poll from the Survey Center on American Life, the educational attainment rate among Democrats has been rising since 1999 whereas it has been stagnant for Republicans since then, and in 2021, 48% of Democrats aged 25+ have a college degree compared to just 30% of Republicans. The result? This is what ends up happening:
Number of Democratic Faculty Members for Every Republican in 25 Academic Fields
Likewise, an old 2004 report from Pew Research Center found that nearly five times as many national journalists identify as liberals than they do as conservatives. Not only has there not been any evidence of a conservative shift in academia and journalism since then, but there’s actually more evidence to the contrary, as a 2016 study by Langbert et al. found that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans becomes larger the younger the professor is, with the ratio being 10:1 among professors older than age 65, and increasing all the way to 22.7:1 among professors younger than age 36.
Conservatives are well-aware of these political skews, so they’ve grown to distrust all of these institutions. They particularly distrust the education system, with only 33% of those who identify as or lean Republican saying that universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country, whereas 59% said universities have a negative effect, according to a 2019 report by Pew Research Center. The same report also finds that just 48% of those who identify as or lean Republican have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in college and university professors to act in the best interest of the public, compared to 84% of those who identify as or lean Democrat. Regarding mass-media, in 2022, 70% of Democrats reported trust in it compared to just 14% of Republicans, according to a poll from Gallup. The conservative response to this left-wing stranglehold has been to whine about university indoctrination. These claims run counter to the findings of available research that we actually have though. Consider the evidence from the book The Still Divided Academy: How Competing Visions of Power, Politics, and Diversity Complicate the Mission of Higher Education by Rothman et al., where we can see that the political ideology of students remains fairly consistent throughout college, with only minor changes in views:
Consistent with this, a 2020 study conducted by the Washington Post found that while conservatives are indeed more likely to feel pressured to align their views with their professors than liberals, when it comes to actually switching ideologies, that is a rare occurrence. Similarly, a 2020 study by Woessner and Kelly-Woessner found that most of the ideological drift in college students was just a result of regression toward the mean (moving towards the center from either extreme ends). Even in fields which showed a leftward shift, such fields are unquestionably dominated by the left such as arts, humanities, and social sciences, and aside from the shift being very small, the researchers found that it seemed to best be explained by the effects of peers and not professors. The idea that universities are turning everyone left-wing is thinly substantiated. Even if it were true, conservatives refuse to answer how the left gained control over such an important institution in the first place. Tellingly, rather than seek to retake control of the universities since they often claim that it had been ‘subverted’ by the left, the conservative answer to all of this is “retreat,” to abandon academia and let the left run it freely. “Just don’t go to college” or “just go to trade school instead” are common conservative talking points. Conservatives laugh at liberals taking sociology class or gender studies, mockingly saying “they’re going to end up with a useless degree and work at McDonald’s,” despite top diversity executives earning a median salary of over $240,000. Given that more and more jobs require college degrees, conservatives are the ones who are probably more likely to work a minimum wage job than liberals. While conservatives are busy sharing their 218th compilation of “crazy woke SJW snowflake gets OWNED with facts and logic,” the left is consolidating and making meaningful policy and cultural changes to the country that seem to be permanent.
Let’s not also forget that American conservatism is living on borrowed time. The GOP is dependent on support from older white voters in elections, but that’s a demographic that’s going the way of the dinosaurs. A 2022 survey by Statista found Millennials and Generation Z overwhelmingly more likely to identify as Democrats than Republicans (52% vs. 21% for Millennials and 52% vs. 17% for Generation Z). A 2021 report from Marketing Charts found that the racial composition by generation is rapidly changing, and whereas 79% of Americans aged 75+ are non-Hispanic white, for Millennials, it is 49%, and for Generation Z, it is 44.9%. In response to this, some conservatives have begun to support more immigration in ostensible hopes of benefiting the economy and capitalizing on the socially conservative attitudes of Hispanics. This ignores the fact that being conservative does not translate into a vote for the GOP, and this is clearly the case with non-white voters. Let’s take African Americans as an example, a group which had switched over to voting Democrat since 1936 and has voted for them by a supermajority since 1964 (three-quarters minimum). Yet as Tasha S. Philpot points out in her book Conservative but Not Republican: The Paradox of Party Identification and Ideology among African Americans, African Americans do indeed hold attitudes on many issues that can be regarded as socially conservative, and this black conservatism dates all the way back to emancipation. She also demonstrates that black conservatives have repeatedly voted Democrat by an overwhelming supermajority. Similar findings were reported in Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior by White and Laird. Across all eleven of their measures of conservatism, Democrat identification among African Americans almost never falls below 70%:
Some conservatives have instead proposed winning over Hispanics, a rapidly growing demographic group, but even then they fail to come up with successful appeals. Some argue that the GOP should relax its stance on immigration, but there is no evidence that this is going to convince any Hispanic voters. A 2013 report from the Center for Immigration Studies found that the percentage of Hispanics who support extremely anti-immigration politicians is roughly the same as Hispanics who support extremely pro-immigration politicians — 27.2% vs. 25.7%, respectively. Some speak of a red shift among Hispanics due to the fact that beginning in mid-2021, support for Biden and the Democrats was declining among Hispanics. But the real change, as pointed out in a 2022 analysis from Gallup, was that Hispanics who used to identify as Democrat switched to independent. This is further supported by a 2023 poll from Public Religion Research Institute. As it turns out, even though Hispanics tend to identify as independent more often than others, when the time comes to vote, they’ll vote Democrat, at least according to exit polls. There was no unusually high support for Republicans in 2022, and while it’s true that exit polls do show some dip in support for Democrats, starting in 2020, Democrats were much more likely to vote by mail than Republicans. Since exit polls are conducted by surveying voters as they leave polling places on Election Day itself, it fails to capture votes from those using alternative methods—ones which most likely favor Democrats. In the 2023 UnidosUS “National Survey of Latino Voters,” when asked which party they felt they’ve become more open to supporting, 32% of Latinos responded with ‘Democrats,’ whereas only 23% responded with ‘Republicans,’ so whether or not Republicans are actually starting to win over Hispanics is questionable. Furthermore, when asked who they’d vote for if the 2024 presidential election was today, 51% of Latinos chose Biden whereas only 33% chose Trump, and if it was Biden vs. DeSantis, then it was 53% vs. 25%, respectively. Even various minority subgroups that do currently vote Republican are not safe votes for Republicans, because the same groups flip to Democrat in the second generation. This phenomenon has been observed with Cuban-Americans for instance, as a 2014 report from Pew Research Center found that 56% of Cubans aged 18-49 identify as or lean Democrat compared to 39% of Cubans aged 50 and above.
By these metrics, conservatives seem set up for defeat. They seem content with just complaining about all the problems they have, but never do they move on to step two of actually trying to come up with workable solutions. Whether or not you like the left, there is absolutely no denying that they’ve been scoring wins after wins for decades now. In a way, the left is brilliant for fear-mongering about how Republicans are supposedly on a journey to roll back rights and civil liberties, the tactic of legitimizing one’s own rule by propping up a weak and pathetic opposition that doesn’t actually pose any real threat is absolutely genius. If conservatives want to actually win, they need to start changing their approach towards the ongoing political struggle, or else they risk completely losing the country and being remembered on the wrong side of history.