An AP story today on Fox News Latino is headlined Out of Reach for Romney Today, Minorities a Key to the GOP Future. The lede is blunt: “ The Republican party cannot expect to win future presidential elections by simply counting on non-Hispanic white voters. That’s the message from worried Republicans urging the party to deal with the dilemma head on.”
And the future looks bleak: “To understand the GOP quandary, consider the possibility of Texas and Florida — nearly a quarter of all Electoral College votes between them — becoming reliably Democratic.”
The article cites worries voiced recently, most prominently South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s sardonic observation that his party isn’t “generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term” to offset its’ bleak prospects as judged by the last go-round: nine of 10 John McCain voters were white, compared to six of 10 Obama voters.
Republicans and some Hispanics say economic opportunity, free enterprise, etc. will lure Latino voters back, but immigration isn’t far from any diagnosis of the problem. Mindful of the harsh immigration policy and rhetorical gauntlet Romney joined during the GOP primary (remember “self deportation”?), Sen. Marco Rubio tells AP. “Immigration may not be the No. 1 issue in the Hispanic community, but it is a gateway issue. The way you talk about it matters.”
Maybe messaging can help, but some would argue that no Republican would emerge from a primary with anything less than Tea Party certification on “border security.” The GOP brand on the subject has given Democrats a virtual pass on discussing, much less describing, real immigration reform.
For Republicans, it’s a slow-motion car wreck. Today’s AP story mentioned Graham, but it reminded me of what my favorite GOP consultant/commentator Mike Murphy said on Meet the Press barely a month after President Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
Said Murphy, “At the end of the day here’s the one statistic we all got to remember: the country’s changing. Ronald Reagan won in 1980 with 51 percent of the vote. We all worship Ronald Reagan. But if that election had been held with the current demographics of America today, Ronald Reagan would’ve gotten 47 percent of the vote.
“The math is changing. Anglo vote’s 74 percent now, not 89. And if we don’t modernize conservatism, we’re going to have a party of 25 percent of the vote going to Limbaugh rallies, enjoying every, every applause line, ripping the furniture up. We’re going to be in permanent minority status.”