Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Will the GOP Recover?

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My last two posts have clarified that the growing demographic base for the Democratic party is largely responsible for Obama’s electoral college victory on Tuesday.

How will the GOP recover from such a devastating loss? The Latin American voters voted for Obama this time around a greater percentage than they had in 08. Furthermore, the Latin American population within the United States is growing… exponentially. According to bloomberg.com the GOP is missing out on yet another potential cohort: Asian Americans.
Romney did very well 55-44 with Americans earning over $100,000 and Asian Americans have brought home a higher medium income than every other racial group, including whites, for decades. So, one would think, that the Asian American population would learn to the right.

False. On Tuesday Asian Americans voted 73-26 for Obama, MORE than the Latin American population. Sure Latin American culture as well as Asian culture is heavily influenced by communitarian philosophy, but the simple act of leaving one’s country behind in search of something better suggests that individual responsibility takes a heavy influence as well.

The fundamental Republican concept of building oneself up from his or her own bootstraps is essentially the concept of immigrating to the United States. Immigrants have desires to prosper, to achieve the American dream, and to leave a better life for their children. Immigrants come to the United States with little or nothing and hope to make something of that. Marco Rubio spoke to this dream and to this correlation within immigration during his speech at the RNC in Tampa.

If the GOP wishes to recover, to regroup and reorganize, it HAS to reach beyond the straight, white male. Not to say that they do not already wish to attract other groups, but as Tuesday showed, their tactics to bring in any other demographic group failed.

Immigration: Republicans have always voiced positive response to legal immigration. However, the rhetoric used by many high powered Republicans regarding ‘illegal aliens’ has demonized the GOP as the anti- immigrant party.

“I very firmly believe that we have to make sure that we enforce our borders, that we have an employment verification system, and that those people who have come here illegally do not get an advantage to become permanent residents, they do not get a special pathway.” – Mitt Romney 6/3/2007 Manchester, NH

Enforcing our borders to prevent illegal immigration is said to be a bi-partisan issue, yet it is the GOP who have been boisterous about stopping illegal immigration.

In order to keep their core constituency  the GOP cannot fundamentally change their beliefs on immigration. However, if the Republicans have any desire to capture back the growing Latin American population or attempt to attract the Asian American population they have to change their rhetoric. Both candidates during the debate spoke highly of America being “founded as a nation of immigrants”, yet Obama took home the victory. A few radical comments by members of the party has left a great distaste of Republicans  in the mouths of immigrants.
While theoretically being anti-illegal immigration should be a universal concept, many LEGAL Latinos view the negativity towards illegals as an offense to themselves.

Romney tacked hard right on illegal immigration, recommending a policy of “self-deportation,” but he hoped that by stressing his dedication to legal immigration he might mitigate the damage.

The reason that didn’t work, according to the study, is that Latino citizens are too personally connected to undocumented residents to separate the issue. Some 60 percent of high propensity Latino voters say they know someone who is living in the country illegally. – Yahoo Latino Vote

While much of the pre-election debate was heavily focused on the gender gap, the GOP must attack this issue of immigration today if they have realistic hopes of presenting a viable candidate in 2016. Comprehensive immigration reform is a must:

  1. Path to legalization: the fact that over 11 illegal immigrants currently reside in the United States, according to 2011 Pew Poll, will be an important issue for the GOP.
  2. 2009: The number of children born to at least one unauthorized-immigrant parent was 350,000. These made up 8% of all U.S. births. (Pew)
  3. 2010: The total number of unauthorized immigrants in the nation’s labor force in United States is 8 million. They made up 5.2% of the labor force in 2010. (Pew)
  4. The GOP must establish a pathway to legalize the millions of immigrants already in the country. Secondly, they must stop incentives currently in place for illegals in the country who are abusing the system.
  5. Most importantly, the GOP must adopt an informative, assertive yet compassionate rhetoric regarding immigration. Republicans must establish a legitimate relationship with current legal immigrants through immigration reform that both accomplishes GOP goals but transcends legitimate concern for preexisting illegal immigrants. 
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