The future of racial politics

To expand on these modest gains, Republicans need to focus not on race but economics. Our recent study for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism demonstrates clearly that minorities generally do far better in red states than in blue ones, based on such factors as income, homeownership, entrepreneurship and migration. Minorities all continue to move in ever larger numbers to red states because their economic climate and regulatory regime work better for them.

Conservatives can make a case that Barack Obama’s progressive agenda actually favored the highly affluent, who tend to be disproportionately white. According to a 2016 Urban League study, African-American levels of economic equality are lower now than in 2009, surely a disappointment for a black middle class so understandably proud of Obama’s elevation.

The best role model for the GOP could be in Texas. Latinos in the Lone Star State generally do better than their counterparts in California — as measured by homeownership, marriage rates, incomes — and also tend to vote more conservatively. In 2014, for example, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott won 44 percent of Texas Latinos. In contrast, that same year Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown won 73 percent of the Latino vote in California.

Other factors, notably upward mobility among Latinos, African-Americans and Asians, could play a transformative role. As they continue to move to the suburbs, buy houses and start businesses, they may become less likely to support a high-regulation, high-tax and redistributionist agenda.