The Washington Post

Think 2012 was bad for Republicans? Just wait until 2032.

Amid the ongoing fiscal cliff talks and the horror in Connecticut last week, it was easy to miss this news buried in a U.S. Census report: "The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043."

The political implications of that single sentence are massive -- particularly since the last election showed that Republicans are losing rather than gaining ground among Hispanic and black voters.

In fact, the 2012 electorate might wind up being the most friendly Republican electorate for a while unless the GOP can fix its problems among minority voters.  

According to Census Bureau projections, the non-Hispanic white population will peak in 2024 at 199.6 million (it was 197.8 million in 2012) and then begin to decline -- dropping by almost 21 million people between 2024 and 2060.  The Hispanic population, on the other hand, will grow twice as large -- from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060.  All told, minorities are expected to comprise 57 percent of the population in 2060, an increase from 37 percent in 2012.

Here's a comparison between 2012 and 2060 when it comes to the racial composition -- by percentage -- of the country.

The political problem is actually even worse for Republicans than those overall population numbers suggest, however. 

Why? Because the electorate will be growing even more Hispanic than the general populace, according to projections made by the Pew Hispanic Center last month.

Writes Paul Tully in a memo detailing the Pew findings:

"Hispanics will account for 40 percent of the growth in the eligible electorate in the U.S. between now and 2030, at which time 40 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote, up from 23.7 million now.

Moreover, if Hispanics’ relatively low voter participation rates and naturalization rates were to increase to the levels of other groups, the number of votes that Hispanics actually cast in future elections could double within two decades."

Here are the raw numbers behind Tully's conclusion:

Those numbers should be a wake-up call to every Republican strategist and politician with an eye on reclaiming the White House not just in 2016 but having a chance to win it in, say, 2036.

The challenge for Republicans is hard to overstate. Since 1980, the party has broken 40 percent among Hispanics just once in the nine presidential elections. (The one was George W. Bush, who won 41 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.) Take out the 2004 election and Republican presidential nominees averaged just 30 percent of the Latino vote in the other eight contests.

Worse still, Mitt Romney's 27 percent among Hispanics in 2012 was the lowest showing for a Republicans since 1992 (25 percent) and 1996 (21 percent). And, both of those latter races were three-way contests with Ross Perot taking a chunk of votes from the two major party nominees.

Politics is an ever-changing game, which is what makes it interesting. What today looks like an unsolvable problem could, a decade on, have evaporated thanks to a series of action taken by the GOP. (Imagine, for a moment, how a President Marco Rubio might change the political calculus outlined above, for example.)

But, the potential that the problem could be resolved doesn't take away from the fact that the problem exists. And not just exists but will get worse -- in fact, far worse -- for Republicans unless they find solutions.

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



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