One of the areas the Republican National Committee will examine as part of an autopsy of its 2012 campaign defeat will be demographics. Thanks to harsh rhetoric and intolerant policy positions, the GOP had the feel of a restricted country club. But as dire as things look now for the Republican Party they can get better if it is willing to make the necessary adjustments. The four charts below show how.
You read that right. Every month for the next 20 years there will be 50,000 Hispanics who become eligible to vote. This data point was highlighted by Republican strategist Whit Ayers at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s summit last month. And it represents an electoral tidal wave of woe for the GOP. It was part of a report from Resurgent Republic that also showed an ideological split among the 10.9 million Latinos registered to vote. While 51 percent are Democrats and 18 percent are Republicans, 54 percent of Hispanics identify as “conservative” while 39 percent say they are “liberal.” In short, Latino voters are open to a conservative pitch. If the GOP can make headway on comprehensive immigration reform and cut out the xenophobic rhetoric, it might be able to get back to winning 44 percent of the Latino vote the way President George W. Bush did in 2004.
With President Obama in the White House, Republican nominee Mitt Romney didn’t stand a chance of chipping off a sizable chunk of the African American vote. But that doesn’t mean the black vote was entirely inaccessible to the GOP.
According to a NAACP poll of black voters in four battleground states, if the Republican Party took a stand for civil rights and equality, 14 percent would have been more likely to vote for a GOP nominee. And if that nominee were former secretary of state Colin Powell in this last election, 14 percent of black voters would have been more likely to vote for him than Obama.
Speaking of equality, according to a Harris Interactive-Logo TV poll of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters from the summer, the GOP could pick up 26 percent of their vote if it had adopted positions on gay rights akin to those of the Democratic Party.
This chart from the NAACP poll provides the best hope for the Republican Party. It’s highlights a big worry among Democrats because the looming enthusiasm gap for future Democratic presidential candidates doesn’t just reside with black voters. It’s a party-wide concern. Without Obama on the ballot, the percentage of those who described themselves as “very enthusiastic” this election year (79 percent) plummets 32 points to 47 percent for Democrats in 2016.
But Republicans would be fools to rely solely on a lack of enthusiasm among Democrats as a winning election strategy in the future. As the charts above attest, there are African American, LGBT and Latino voters who would vote for Republicans in a heartbeat if the party were more welcoming. It’s not enough to present candidates with Hispanic surnames, who are black or openly gay. The party has to have policies that tell these voters their support is wanted.
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