In my earlier prediction of what would happen in the Electoral College, I missed two states—Virginia and Florida. I picked both of them to go to Romney, but that turned out to be wrong. I wasn’t surprised by Virginia going blue again, but I have to say that I was stunned by Florida. I saw how close the polls were beforehand, but I thought surely Florida would be red this year. This loss is a big deal for the Grand Old Party. The GOP will not win another presidential election if it can’t win Florida (and other states like it). The party will be dead in the water.
That is why the conversations have already begun in earnest about what the GOP has to do in order to be successful at running a national campaign again. There are some conservatives who are blaming Tuesday’s loss on Chris Christie, the Black Panthers, or even Romney himself. I have a hunch that those folks are not looking in the right place to identify the problem.
In 2004, President Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote. In 2008, Senator McCain garnered 31%. In 2012, Governor Romney only carried 27%. It’s pretty clear what is happening. As the Hispanic voter base has grown, the GOP’s percentage of that vote has decreased. That is a recipe for electoral disaster, and that’s what happened on Tuesday. If Governor Romney had won the same percentage that McCain won in 2008, Romney would now be president-elect.
Here’s the bottom line. The country is becoming more and more racially diverse, and the GOP has a diversity problem. If the party is to have a future, it will have to learn how to listen to all minority voters, especially Hispanics. The demographics are what they are, and there is no future for the party without recognizing this reality.
What does that mean for evangelical voters and the social causes they care about most? It’s good for the country for there to be at least one major party that supports the pro-life position, the sanctity of marriage, and religious liberty. I wish that both parties supported those issues, but right now there’s only one. And that party should not have to kick those issues to the curb if enough minority voters who share those concerns can be brought in to the coalition.
The challenge for the GOP over the coming months and years will be trying to figure out how to do that. It’s doable. And conservatives will have to figure out a sensible policy on immigration to make it happen. Social conservatives who don’t like the idea of revisiting the immigration issue are going to have to figure out what their priorities are. I have opinions about fiscal policy, about the scope and size of government, about national security, immigration, and a whole host of other issues. But my priorities are life, marriage, and religious liberty. I’d be willing to give a little on issues of lesser concern in order to advance my priorities. I’m hoping that other social conservatives would be willing to do the same.
This conversation has only just begun, and we’ll be paying close attention.
P.S. Joe Scarborough addressed the GOP’s diversity problem on “Morning Joe” earlier today. His analysis is right on the mark in my view. See the video here.
P.P.S. I’m not buying the argument from Yuval Levin and others that says Romney lost because he didn’t turn out traditional GOP voters in great enough numbers. That is ignoring the fact that this country is fast becoming a majority minority nation. Turning out the old traditional base is a losing strategy for the future. The base must be broadened, and I am hopeful it can be done in a principled way.