With the election and its endless flow of rhetoric now mercifully in the rear view mirror, America, and more specifically the Republican Party, finds itself in a precarious position. Mitt Romney ran a well-funded and solid – if not overly safe – campaign, but President Obama was still awarded a second-term despite record-low job numbers, sagging poll numbers down the stretch, and a floundering economy that has been seemingly immune to stimulus.
That same American economy is only projected to get worse, with the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” approaching on January 1st – a legal deadline that will institute a wide-range of tax hikes and spending cuts that will likely plunge the United States into another recession. In a larger North American context, Canada is likely to feel the brunt of that recession, as it may serve to hinder trade from an Obama administration that spent its first four years providing Canada with only tepid support on free trade and the development of the oil-sands.
If anything, the situation is so dire that the it could be argued that Obama inherited an even worse situation than four years ago, but this time it was of his own making. And yet, the Republicans still could not capitalize on such trying times. So how is that possible? How can an opposition party lose an election that was basically handed to them on a silver platter? The answer largely lies in demographics.
The Washington Examiner has compiled some fascinating data on the demographic breakdown of election voters. The numbers show that even in a supposed post-racial era, the country is as divided as ever. Romney won the white vote by 20 points, with numbers not seen since Reagan beat Carter. Normally, that would be enough to carry an election, but in 2012 white voters make up a sizably smaller chunk of the electorate.
Philip Klein, a Senior Editorial Writer explains in further detail,
(In reference to Reagan in 1980) Romney has won white voters by the same 20-point margin, 59 percent to 39 percent. But the big difference is that in 1980, whites were 88 percent of the electorate, whereas in this election, they were just 73 percent. Black voters represented 10 percent of the electorate in 1980, and Carter won 83 percent of them. This year, black voters were 13 percent of the electorate, and went 93 percent for Obama. But the big leap was among Hispanic voters, who jumped from 2 percent of the population in 1980 to 10 percent in 2008. And Romney is only winning 30 percent of Hispanics.
The continued rise of African American and Hispanic voters – and their continued ardent support of the Democrats – leaves the Republicans with a moral quandary. Do they continue as Grand Old Party of yesteryear? Meaning steadfast in their values: stubborn, but principled. Or do they adapt to the changing times? The answer to that is probably that they simply have no choice.
A severe adjustment to their immigration policy and even general party platform is likely required – even if it means alienating a large portion of their base. For the simple fact of the matter is: If they do not change, it is within the realm of possibility that we will not see another Republican President for a very long time – or arguably ever again.