Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

The Demise of the GOP?

The Demise of the GOP?

Photograph via US Daily Review

This is my final column on the long, strange trip that was the 2012 Election. Yet, despite its windy path, the destination was utterly familiar: President Barack Obama comfortably won the Electoral College by putting together a coalition of female, minority, and young voters. In the last six days, I tried to think of some fresh postmortem angle on the election, but news networks, the Internet, and, most impressively, Ben Hoffman and Anthony Resnick, beat me to just about everything. I choose, therefore, to look forward.

For me, the most fascinating result of the election is that the Republican Party is in dire straits as the country continues its demographical shift. The country has never been less white, and the GOP is losing the political war for the minority vote. Moreover, once again, female voters outnumbered male voters, and, once again, they favored Democrats. Finally, as young voters grow up in an increasingly liberal society, they might replace older, conservative generations. If you’re a Republican, the trend is scary.

I make no revelation here. Pundits across the political spectrum have weighed in on the party’s future. Conservatives talk of a “looming civil war.” Far-right commentators want to double-down on conservatism and would never sacrifice their social principles in order to win women. Center-right figures feel they need a reformation to cast away right-wing “extremists” and make the GOP more palatable to women, minorities, and those who don’t think science is an atheistic plot to take over America. Meanwhile, leftists prematurely celebrate the demise of their opponents, reasoning that the Dems will soon remain as the only major political party.{{1}}

These analyses have saturated the Internet since Obama’s three-digit electoral triumph. I have little desire to beat a dead elephant into the ground, or cast dirt upon its corpse before we have another election or two to check its pulse. I don’t know the future of the party. Like so many other columnists, I could pretend to know, then hope you forget what I said when I’m wrong, but I’ll just be honest: I don’t know how the GOP can regroup in a changing America. My best guess is that the party will be fine.

How is that possible? How could they conceivably survive, considering the apparent centrifugal force tearing them apart? How can they stay true to their conservative core while still appealing to those demographics that so consistently support the Democrats? I’ll tell you how, and it doesn’t require an overhaul of conservative values.

[pullquote_right]If the GOP cannot attract Latino voters, they will be finished as a competitive national party.[/pullquote_right]

Step One is determining the most efficient course of political action. For example, the gender gap, while prevalent, is not too devastating. Women have long preferred Democrats, but Republicans still managed to win elections. Losing women 55-44 was unfortunate on Tuesday—especially considering they made up 54 percent of the electorate—but it is not the end of the party. Moreover, if winning over women means forsaking long-held conservative beliefs like pro-life voting or fighting a condom in every classroom, then I think the GOP will be fine with losing women. While the party will instruct its candidates to stop making stupid rape comments, do not expect their abortion voting records to change.

Meanwhile, getting trounced in the African-American vote by an African-American candidate is also not too much of an electoral concern. Republicans can count on Obama’s success with African Americans being close to a high-water mark for the Democratic Party. That’s not to say African Americans don’t have legitimate reasons to vote Democrat—they turned Democratic under FDR and Truman and haven’t looked back since LBJ—but it’s also not unreasonable to think that pride for the candidate’s race led to unprecedented African-American support. Moreover, African Americans, as a percentage of Americans, are not on the rise. Electorally speaking, there’s no need to worry here, either.

The youth, meanwhile, has long been liberal, usually worried about issues like education, the environment, and the liberalization of social issues. It has a way of moderating as it ages. Heads of households largely prioritize take-home pay and disposable income over the liberal issues of their youth.{{2}} Therefore, this demographic can also take care of itself for the GOP.

This leaves Latinos, which should be the top priority for the Republican Party over the next decade. They must proactively bring Latinos into the fold.{{3}} This is not a new idea, I grant you, but let me drive home the point with—you know me—Electoral Math.

Here are the ten states with the highest percentage of Latinos as part of state population: New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, and Illinois. The bottom three are safely blue. With the first seven, we’re looking at states with Latino percentages north of 20 percent, and the numbers are growing. It is reasonable to project that by 2020 all but one will be blue states, and Texas, as some have argued, might be as well. The combined electoral weight of those ten states are—ready for this?—216 electoral votes.

You know how the three most valuable components of real estate are “location, location, location”? Moving forward, the three most valuable parts of the electorate will be, you guessed it, “Latinos, Latinos, Latinos.”

If Republicans do not figure out how to speak to the Latino community, we could be looking at a floor of 216 electoral votes for Democratic candidates in 2020 and beyond. And that’s without factoring in traditionally blue New England (minus New Hampshire), Washington, Washington D.C., Maryland, Delaware, and Hawaii, which combine for 60 electoral votes, and would give Democrats 276 electoral votes, a majority of the Electoral College. And that’s without lifting a finger in battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, Iowa, and New Hampshire.

Again, I’m not sure how they’ll do this. That’s Step Two. Some sort of outreach is necessary. But the beauty of it is that winning over the Latino community does not mean amending conservative values. As a largely Catholic community, many Latinos have common ground with Republicans on social issues such as abortion and birth control. Moreover, many immigrants place high value earning as much take-home pay as possible to pay for family here and from their country of origin. Latinos can be won over. But can the GOP soften anti-immigrant language coming from so many prominent Republicans, including their 2012 nominee? They must. If the GOP cannot successfully attract Latino voters, it will be finished as a competitive national party. The Obama coalition will continue to deliver presidential elections.

An irony is that the Republican Party once prided itself as the big tent party, where many groups could collect under one banner. Now, however, it’s essentially monolithic. The big tent gradually became a red giant. Its fate could be the same—a once powerful body collapses in on itself, leaving little behind but a shadow of what once was.

[[1]]As if Republicans didn’t add seats to their House majority.[[1]]

[[2]]I say “might” because they could grow more conservative as they age. Remember the old saying, “If you’re young and not liberal, you have no heart. If you’re old and not conservative, you have no brain.” Surely a mantra generated by an old conservative.[[2]]

[[3]]I say “proactive” because it is not enough to continue saying, “Employment, lower taxes, and getting our fiscal house in order helps everyone, including Latinos” and hope that a light bulb suddenly goes off in the heads of Latino voters. Because they’re not buying it.[[3]]