It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid

 

It’s demographics.

The Republicans would like to make every excuse possible to explain the drugging they received in last week’s election. The excuses have varied from ‘Mitt Romney was not a stellar candidate,’ to the president and his campaign painted the Republicans as out of touch (which they are), as well as every other possible excuse except the simple numbers of it. This was not an election of ideas, popularity, or the economy, as the Romney campaign would have had us believe. Or anything else. Plain and simple, it was demographics.

The Republicans have been governing over an ever increasingly shrinking coalition since the 1990’s and it finally took this election to make them realize it. Based on some delusional hypothesis from conservative pundits and analysts, the GOP thought it was going to win the presidency and perhaps re-take the senate. This is wishful thinking at best.  In this article by Chris Cillizza, of The Washington Post’s TheFix, he argues

The numbers paint a very clear picture: Republicans now face the same low electoral-college ceiling that Democrats confronted for much of the 1970s and 1980s — needing everything to go right to win the presidency, much less break the 300-electoral-vote barrier.

What was shown is that the GOP is consigned to being a minority opposition party for the foreseeable future, who’s only saving grace is their control of the House of Representatives, where they hold a majority of seats due to pockets of dwindling Republicans that still exist in the country. National and, to some extent, state elections are beyond the GOP’s grasp in the foreseeable future. The 2010 mid-term election in which they regained the house and a number of governorships was a backlash to the status quo, and they were lucky to hold on to most of those seats, though they lost some of those as well.

Based on these exit polls there has been a significant shift in favor of Democrats in this election. These polls show an even bleaker picture for Republicans based on group breakdowns. Democrats have a significant advantage among females in general: While married women favored the Republicans, unmarried women backed the Democrats. African Americans and Hispanic voters overwhelmingly backed the president and Democrats while Republicans got some of their lowest support from these two groups in recent memory. Finally, people who thought the economy was doing well, or better, also backed the president as well as non-religious or atheist voters.

The groups that traditionally backed the GOP, and heavily backed Romney, used to be the majority. That is no longer the case.

Populations and demographics change, younger people grow up, populations alter, and over the past two decades, the numbers of each of the groups that backed the Democrats, specifically Hispanics and African-Americans, has increased as well as many other groups. Cillizza makes the case that

States such as North Carolina, Virginia and Florida have all gone from generally reliable Republican states to real swing states. (Obama carried Florida and Virginia in both 2008 and 2012; he won North Carolina in 2008 and narrowly lost it in 2012.) There has been no similar Republican map expansion; Romney won no state that Bush didn’t win in 2004 and lost six — Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio — that Bush won eight years ago. Attempts by Romney to expand the map in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin backfired; he lost both states by larger margins than Bush did in 2004.

With such a demographic picture, even a more qualified and charismatic GOP nominee will have the same problem that Mitt Romney did this year. This is not a single election issue. The GOP has lost five of the last six popular votes for president. (Clinton in 1992, Clinton in 1996, Gore in 2000, Obama in 2008, and now Obama in 2012.) The one popular election the Democrats lost was George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. When one assess the Electoral College breakdown, the numbers are just as bad for the GOP.

During those two-plus decades dating back to 1992, the most — repeat most — electoral votes a Republican presidential candidate has won is 286, when George W. Bush claimed a second term in 2004. In that same time frame, Democratic nominees have received more than 300 electoral votes four times: Barack Obama in 2008 (365) and 2012 (332) and Bill Clinton in 1992 (370) and 1996 (379). The lowest total for a Democratic nominee during that period was Sen. John Kerry’s 251 electoral votes in 2004; Republicans’ floor during that same period was 159 electoral votes in 1996…That Democratic electoral-vote dominance is the mirror image of the huge edge Republicans enjoyed in the six elections prior to 1992. From 1968 to 1988, Republican presidential nominees averaged a whopping 417 electoral votes per election while Democrats managed just 113.

Yes, Republicans have to change. However, simply “reaching out” to these groups is not enough. The party must make its message relevant by applying conservatism to the present day and to the future. Using the same tactics and talking points that have been used for the past 20-30 years will do one thing: Get you the votes you did back then, and leave you out in the cold now. This is 2012, and before 2014 and 2016 come the GOP must stop being the Grand Old Party and catch up to a country, and an electorate, that is quickly passing them by.

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