The GOP’s demographic problem

Moods dimmed at Mitt Romney's election night party in Boston as President Obama, helped by Latino support, won reelection.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Republican strategists worry that Tuesday’s election results indicates the GOP has a “demographic problem.”

No kidding. Latinos turned out at the polls and voted for President Obama at a historic rate. At least one election eve report by the Latino Decisions blog indicates that Obama won 75% of that voting bloc, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney captured a mere 23%. (Latinos account for 10% of the electorate).

GOP leaders can’t be surprised by those results. How could they be when they were repeatedly warned by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and others that taking a hard line on immigration was a dangerous tactic. Sure, that strategy might win Romney support among some conservatives, but it also risked alienating Latinos in key battleground states such as Florida. Nor should they be shocked by Latinos’ rejection of their plan. After all, this isn’t the first time Latinos have seen the GOP embrace such rhetoric. Republicans took the same approach in California in 1994. Led by Gov. Pete Wilson, the GOP threw its support behind Proposition 187, the ballot measure that sought to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving state social services and educational benefits. That decision cost the party dearly. It drove Latinos out of the party and has kept them away for nearly two decades.

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That’s why it seems disingenuous for Republican strategists to now struggle to confront a demographic crisis. The GOP took a calculated risk and it failed to pay off Tuesday night.

So, how to fix their demographic problem? Here’s a suggestion: Try not to ignore or offend the voters you hope to court.


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