The one chart you need to understand why Republicans should be worried about 2016

I'm in Florida -- current temperature 82 degrees! -- to give a speech on the American political landscape (high brow, eh?) later today. In making some notes for the talk, I came across this chart, which, to my mind, perfectly encapsulates why Republicans need to be worried about the 2016 election no matter what happens this November.

Image courtesy of WaPo polling unit
Image courtesy of WaPo polling unit

To paraphrase the chart: One in every ten people who voted Republican in 2012 were not white.  That number is amazing enough on its own but it becomes even more so when you consider that the white vote as a percentage of the overall electorate has dropped in every presidential election since 1992. The white vote made up 72 percent of the overall electorate in 2012, down from 77 percent in 2004. In 1980 when Ronald Reagan was winning the presidency, nearly nine in every ten voters were white.

The facts are plain. The GOP in presidential elections tends to be a party dominated by white voters. But, the white vote is shrinking while the Hispanic population and, we assume eventually, the Hispanic vote, booms. That's why Republican strategists with an eye on the 2016 election believe the party has no choice but to pass some sort of immigration reform as soon as possible. Of course, reading the tea leaves coming from the GOP-controlled House on the prospects for immigration reform is incredibly difficult as the outlook seems ton change on a regular basis.

Even if Congressional Republicans do find a way to pass some sort of immigration reform, that won't solve their demographic problems. But, it would be a start. And judging from the chart above, the GOP needs to start changing the face of its party, literally, as quickly as possible if they want to be truly competitive in future national elections.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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