Many Republicans have groused that running the Trump nomination could result in a permanent shifting of the electoral map similar to that of 1964, when Barry Goldwater’s candidacy more or less turned the black vote into a permanent monolithic Democratic voting block. The concern is that Trump’s candidacy will have the same effect with the Hispanic vote.
To some extent, I think the comparisons to 1964 are overblown – I don’t think, for instance, that Trump will lose as decisively as Goldwater did or that the bloodbath will be as bad for Republicans in this election. Democratic primary voters saved the GOP from that scenario by nominating their weakest general election candidate since Eugene McCarthy. Pretty much no matter how much people come to hate Trump (and I don’t think he’s scraped NEARLY the bottom of that barrel), there will always be a huge segment of the population that hates Hillary worse – and she will help them along throughout the upcoming campaign. Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t see Trump losing 40+ states when the dust settles.
On the other hand, the long term effects will likely be worse – in fact, much worse. Like, existential threats to the existence of the Republican party worse. The GOP survived the Goldwater bloodbath because the Democrats took the message from the 1960s that cultural conservatives ought to be jettisoned, and the GOP was able to cobble together a coalition of these former Democrats with Republican fiscal hawks and defense hawks that was able to keep elections close on a national scale, in spite of the fact that roughly 11-13% of the voting population was permanently lost to the GOP forever.
One of the things that saved the GOP was the fact that the black population stopped growing relative to the white population. Perversely, this was largely the doing of the Democrats, who have actively (and successfully) encouraged the black community to culturally embrace abortion and population control.
The GOP will have no such luck with the Hispanic population. Already, the Hispanic vote has been growing drastically, relative to the white vote, to an estimated 9% in 2012. For a party that is on the verge of nominating a candidate who is deeply hated by 90% of Hispanic voters, that is bad news. But it’s actually much worse than even that, because Hispanics right now have the lowest voting participation rate (approximately 53% in 2012, as compared with 66% of whites and 65% of blacks) in the country.
In other words, the Hispanic vote prior to now has been largely dormant, but a huge, cataclysmic event (like the nomination of a guy who made racist comments about a federal judge of Mexican descent, or a guy who routinely retweets white supremacists and openly courts the support of the same) might well drive Hispanics to vote at the same rate as Whites and/or Blacks… in which case, they would comprise about 17% of the vote. Which means the Republicans will be permanently doomed: if 30% of the voting population splits 90%-10% for the Democrats, Republicans would have to win the white vote 71-29% just to be competitive.
And that’s assuming that Hispanics don’t continue to make population gains relative to the white population.
You can see the start of this with yesterday’s poll that shows that Clinton only trails Trump by 7 in Texas. There are places like Texas where Republicans have made significant inroads with the Hispanic community and this allows them to be competitive statewide. Nationally, Republicans have likewise remained competitive for between 25-40% of the Hispanic vote. In a post-Trump world, all that might well be undone, and the Republican party relegated to permanent (small) minority status.
I don’t envy the task of the Republican delegates in Cleveland. If Trump is denied the nomination, it will probably cause a massive rift in the party that might well lead to a bigger loss than would otherwise be suffered by Trump. But on the other hand, probably the only chance the Republican party has to survive as institution is a very public statement by party leaders that Trump and his most virulent anti-Hispanic supporters aren’t with us, and the only way to do that convincingly is to throw Trump out on his backside.
It’s a sticky situation and one without an obvious victory condition. Which means that Republican delegates should maybe do what ought to be the first consideration anyway and follow what their conscience compels them to do, consequences be damned.