RSS
Can the GOP bounce back by appealing to minorities?
Republican leaders are gathering to discuss what they have to do to get more votes, and some say the key is backing policies popular with blacks and Latinos
 
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is the only African-American in the Senate.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is the only African-American in the Senate. AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Republican National Committee leaders are hunkering down for a three-day annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C., to plot their path back to power, says Beth Reinhard at the National Journal. President Obama's second inauguration is "still ringing in their ears," and the sting of their failure to regain control of the Senate in last year's election is still fresh. Going forward, of course, there are plenty of "nuts and bolts" changes Republicans must make, such as figuring out how to match the cutting-edge ground operation Obama used to track and motivate his supporters. But the real key may be coming up with ways to appeal to black and Latino voters, along with women, young people, and others who overwhelmingly backed Democrats in 2012. "If we're going to be a party of purists, we're going to be a very small party," says Henry Barbour, a Mississippi strategist co-chairing the GOP's Growth and Opportunity Project. Can the GOP really win over minorities?

The answer, pretty clearly, is no, says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. Symbolic moves — "More black speakers at the convention, three Latinos in office instead of one" — aren't going to cut it. And the minute GOP leaders start talking about actually supporting policies that appeal to minority voters, the party's implacable white base, which "consists of white people who are terrified of losing their skin privilege in Barack Obama's America," will start howling.

A party with that kind of base is not going to be changing positions on affirmative action anytime in the next, oh, millennium. No — I really can't predict a meeting of the minds here in any remotely foreseeable future. Remember, the conservative, Republican-appointed Supreme Court is (presumably) about to undo affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act. It'll be another decade fighting to win those back at least. [Daily Beast]

Actually, there are some pretty straightforward steps the GOP can take to make gains quickly, says Brian Bennett at the Los Angeles Times. The party's hardline positions on immigration drove Latino voters into the arms of Obama and other Democratic candidates in 2012, accounting for a big part of Obama's 5.4 percent margin over Mitt Romney in the national popular vote, according to Gary Segura of the Latino Decisions polling firm. But a few simple policy changes could tip the scales toward the GOP.

An estimated 31 percent of Latino registered voters would be more likely to vote for a Republican if the party took the lead on pushing for immigration reform, according to poll results.

That difference would be enough for a Republican presidential candidate to win 42 percent of the Latino vote and the presidency, Segura said.

"Republicans don't need to win a majority of Latino votes to win; they just need to not get crushed," he said. [Los Angeles Times]

Republicans are certainly capable of curing "what ails their party," says Byron York at the Washington Examiner. They're just deeply divided over what, exactly, the problem is. Some blame the party's recent setbacks on its failure to win over Latinos and other minorities, and say the key to rebounding is broadening the GOP's appeal. Others, however, "stress the GOP's failure to master even the basics of voter turnout in the last election, along with the flawed candidacy of Mitt Romney," and they're convinced that the party can bounce back by changing how it gets its message out, instead of changing the message itself.

It's not an either-or choice; most members likely fall somewhere between those two ends. But there is still a basic divide between those who emphasize outreach, especially to Hispanics, and those who emphasize turnout and candidate quality. Going the outreach route could mean far-reaching changes in the party. Going the turnout route could mean organizational and technical changes that do not involve re-making the GOP. [Examiner]

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week