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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

GOP: Take note of country’s changing demographic

Published: October 26, 2012
Section: Opinions

In the saturated 24-hour news cycle, I’m sure you have seen GOP political rallies for Governor Romney and other candidates. They tend to feature a predominantly white audience with very few Hispanics and African-Americans. While Republicans do have some rising Latino stars in the party, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, these stars are not correlating into Hispanic support.

According to a recent poll by the highly respected polling firm Latino Decisions, President Obama is winning the Hispanic vote by a staggering 71 percent to 20 percent margin over Governor Romney. The increasing Hispanic support for Democrats has altered the typical presidential map. Obama won Colorado by 9 percent in 2008, marking the first time the state had voted for a Democrat since 1992. Similarly, Obama won Nevada by 12 percent in 2008, the first time the state had voted for a Democrat since 1996. Finally, New Mexico, typically a swing state in elections, is now safely Democratic.

The Hispanic population in the United States has grown each year, and in each election they have comprised a larger part of the electorate. While Hispanics used to be an unreliable voting group in getting to the polls, Latino Decisions reports that 84 percent of Latinos are certain to vote in this election.

Led by the increasing Latino population, the changing demographics of the country have put the future of the Republican Party in danger. Consider that according to the most recent census, Hispanics make up 37.6 percent of the population of Texas, 29.6 percent of Arizona and 22.5 percent of Florida, with these percentages increasing every year. If Democrats continue to win the Hispanic vote by large margins, the once reliable Republican strongholds of Texas and Arizona will be put into question and the eternal toss-up state of Florida will start to become increasingly Democratic.

Let’s look at a little arithmetic. Assume that over the next four to five presidential elections Democrats will continue to win the majority of the Northeast votes as well as keep the reliable Democratic states of California, Oregon and Washington. Now, with the increasing Hispanic populations in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Florida these states will continue to lean Democratic unless Republicans can re-gain the Hispanic vote.

If a Democrat were to win these six states, they would already have enough electoral votes to win the presidency without even factoring in typically Democratic leaning states such as Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and toss-ups like Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. This simple electoral math paints the grim picture that Republicans now face.

After years of bashing Hispanics, alienating gays and lesbians, restricting a woman’s right to choose, the GOP has been limited to a party of white male and female seniors. While the GOP still has some Hispanic, African-American, gay and lesbian support, it is nowhere close to the support the Democrats get from these groups.

The Unites States is quickly becoming a minority-majority country. For the first time this past year, minority births accounted for more than 50 percent of all recorded births in the United States. The GOP’s inability to attract this ever-growing population may lead to its demise from the political spectrum.

Can the GOP combat these rapidly changing demographics? The answer is cloudy, just like the future of the Republican Party. The crux of the GOP’s problem stems from their problems with Hispanics. It began when the GOP took its hard-line stance against immigration policy, pandering to their white base. While the strategy worked in the short-term, helping them in elections from 2000 to 2006, the shortcomings of the strategy became evident in 2008, when then candidate-Obama remade the electoral map behind his support from Latinos.

While Republicans should be able to regain some of the Hispanic vote stemming from conservative leaning Latinos, the reality of the situation is different. Hispanics have increased their support of Democrats during the last 12 years, and this Democratic support is beginning to become ingrained in the community. Just like African-Americans overwhelmingly vote for Democrats based on embedded feelings that date back to the battle over civil rights, Hispanics are developing these feelings from the GOP’s hard line immigration stance.

Regardless of the outcome of the 2012 election, the Republican Party’s days of relevance may be coming to an end if they cannot attract Hispanic and minority voters. The GOP can’t continue on the same path dictated by its most extreme members. They must once again grow their party to encompass Americans from all backgrounds or become part of a long list of American political parties lost to history. Hopefully, they address the elephant in the room instead of keeping it in the corner.