I have posted about this issue before and received much agreement on the basic premise, but very little on the next steps. Essentially our party has a demographics problem. We all know it, we all confront it on a regular basis. Especially in national elections, but on many statewide elections as well. The question is what we can do about it, if anything. The GOP has a decent lock on the older, predominately white vote and on the deep southern states. Do we get other voters? Sure we do, of course. Do we win seats outside the deep south? Again, yes of course. But both of those situations are the exception more than the rule. I’d like to use this diary to have a discussion of what we as a party can do about this. First I’d like to point out three different points to this discussion.
1. What we have been doing isn’t working. Therefore continuing to do the same thing will not help us. Please don’t respond with the usual response saying that we should ignore demographics and preach conservative values. We have been doing that for years and it obviously isn’t working.
2. I don’t like the idea of just losing those voters. Oftentimes in discussions like this people simply state “we will never get those voters” or “that is too small of a group to worry about.” Both of these statements are hurtful to the party. Each little group, no matter how small, adds up. And even if people aren’t part of that small group, they almost certainly have friends, family, or loved ones who are. Giving up on a specific demographic is giving up on all of their associates as well. Any vote we give up is a vote we freely give to the democrats, and they will accept that vote with open arms and malicious intent.
3. If we aren’t in power our ideas don’t matter. We can be right all day but it means nothing if we are the lone voice in the wilderness. And the times, they are a changin’. We can only implment policy so much as a protest party. If we fail to adapt to changing demographics and push our party forward it will only be a matter of time.
So with those thoughts on the table I wanted to break down some key demographics and explore how we can start moving them in a more conservative direction. This list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, just a beginning to get the conversation started.
Hispanic/Latino Population: Do we have people in this group? Of course we do. In fact we have had two presidential candidates this time around that are part of this group. But we all know that the GOP really struggles with the Hispanic community. Most of them by far vote democrat. Mitt Romney won 23% of the Latino vote in 2012. In 2004 George W. Bush won 44% of the Latino vote and it has decreased each season since then. Folks, this is the fastest growing demographic in America. They are predominately Catholic and pro-life. We have several areas where we as a party could connect here. and yet right now the GOP has a 14% approval rating among Hispanic/Latino voters. This needs to change. I do not want to hand the fastest growing demographic to the democratic party on a silver platter. No thank you.
African Americans: Again, we had a presidential candidate from this demographic. I’m not saying that there are no republicans that are African American. But let’s be honest this is a demographic we have had issues with and still do. Romney got 6% of the African American vote. John McCain was even lower. George W. Bush had a approval rating of 2% among African Americans. Folks, they are estimated between 13-15% of the electorate. Do we really want to continue to hand that large of a chunk to the democrats? Especially when so many down ballot races come in very very close? This needs to change and I refuse to believe that there is nothing we could do to try to improve here. Many African Americans are blue collar workers, have a poor view of unions, are pro-life, and are very religious. There has to be places here we can connect.
Asians: My favorite demographic for the obvious reasons! I was born in Korea and my parents emigrated here when I was still an infant. My parents raised me as a Christian and have always been very conservative. But we really are th exception. Almost all of my Asian friends are democrats. Again, this is a group we should have a lot in common with. This is a group that is very opposed to communism for the obvious reasons. And most are in the upper income, upper education bracket as well. And yet it is a demographic that the GOP has always struggled with and continues to lose support. This needs to change.
LGBT: I can hear the collective groan of readers here. The immediate thought is “we will never get them.” This is shortly followed by “we don’t really want them either.” And then as always the thought “they are too small of a group to concern ourselves with.” If you don’t think the LGBT population is a political powerhouse you haven’t been paying attention. They might be a small number of people percentage-wise but remember they have family, mothers, daughters, loved ones that all vote as well. And as we drive them away we push them further and further into the left-wing camp who again happily accept all those voters. We can change this and we should.
I could continue and list numerous other demographics as well. Age, gender, education level, and other factors all with varying degrees of support for the GOP. My point is that we cannot win as a national party, we cannot hold the House or the Senate, we cannot get many state level victories by relying solely on the older, white vote. And alienating these different demographics is done at our own peril and at the peril of the nation as well. As we drive them further and further away we only serve to strengthen and embolden the left. This can and should change. We can and should change it. But my quesstion is how do we start?