The American electorate is always changing. Sweeping electoral mandates are hard to come by these days.
Elections and politics are now, more than ever, about building coalitions — finding those who align with you and using that relationship to further your collective goals.
It is not just about winning over a single demographic: You must be able to bring those of different groups together.
This is where the GOP fails.
In the aftermath of last week’s election results, Republican talking heads began to discuss immigration reform, which they consider the key to unlocking Latino turnout in their favor.
But as my colleague discusses in his column, only 12 percent of Latino voters consider immigration reform to be near the top of their priorities.
Even pledging to support total amnesty for undocumented immigrants wouldn’t have sealed the deal for the Romney-Ryan ticket.
This is because of a wider failure on the GOP’s part. Republicans failed to win over Latino voters. The GOP also failed to win over the African-American community, the Asian-American community and women.
Like it or not, a demographic breakdown of different groups is a strong predictor of voting behavior in those groups.
Reading the demographic breakdown of the electorate leads us to conclude that Romney voters are overwhelmingly white, to the tune of 88 percent, according to a Slate article. Romney’s support among different demographic groups was all in the single digits: 6 percent among Latinos, 2 percent among Asian-Americans and African-Americans.
In contrast, only about half of Obama voters were white at 56 percent. Twenty-four percent of Obama supporters were African-American, 14 percent were Latino and 4 percent were Asian.
Meanwhile, former Republican vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan R-WI claims that he and former Massachusetts Gov. Romney ran a good campaign, but the president won re-election thanks to “surprising” urban voter turnout.
“We clearly didn’t lose it on those issues,” he said. Those “issues” were Ryan’s proposed budget plan and Medicare reforms.
Perhaps the election was not a referendum on specific issues supported or opposed by the Republican Party but on the overall tone-deafness the party exhibited.
Obama won 55 percent of women’s votes, compared with Romney’s 44 percent. Single women voted for the president 62-35 percent. Women with children voted for Obama 56-43 percent, and women without children voted for Obama 54-45.
After Romney’s comments in the second debate, in which he leapt the gap between gun violence and single mothers in a single bound of rhetorical upchuck; after the controversies this past year surrounding contraception and Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke’s “sluttiness”; after the various GOP congressional candidates’ comments on “legitimate” rape, is it any wonder that single women voted for the Democratic nominee by a margin of 27 percent?
Without women, without Latinos, without African-Americans: mathematically, you cannot build a coalition. If you alienate vital demographic groups, time and time again, you cannot win an election.
Pretending that a more lax approach to solving illegal immigration would have gotten you the presidency? In the words of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, that’s just “math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better.”
If GOP leaders are still convinced that Obama won re-election because Latino voters were manipulated into believing liberal lies and women vote Democratic because they’re sluts, maybe the Republican Party’s problem lies within and not without.
If you alienate such large swaths of the electorate, the math just doesn’t add up. And unlike the federal budget, you can’t run a deficit of voters.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her at @SavannahKThomas.
Read Sean McCauley’s original point, “Republicans didn’t lose because of immigration.”
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to email@example.com. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.