Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

GOP makeover is necessary

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The results of the election last week revealed a rapidly changing electorate. The demographics of voters have shifted with more minorities showing up to the polls. Although the Democrats lost support from white people they gained ground with Hispanics and other minorities. Thus winning the election.

The Obama campaign recognized this shift early on and capitalized on it. They didn’t launch national media tours to get their message out. Instead they became expert microtargeters. They formed bases in communities and focused on gaining the support of niche groups especially in minority communities. This gave the President a cushion at the polls on Tuesday because even though he was four percentage points lower with white people from 2008 he edged the difference by drawing in minorities who voted two percentage points higher than in 2008. Their focus on minorities has obviously proven to be a winning strategy but what does this mean for the Republican Party?

The republicans need a major image change. The days of a strong white male party are over. America today does not resonate with old gentleman’s club politics. The percentage of white people voting has dropped five percentage points from 77 percent in 2004, 74 percent in 2008 to 72 percent in 2012. This gap has been filled by the huge increase in Latino voters. States such as Colorado and Nevada have historically thought to be Republican however, with the influx of Latinos both states swung from red to blue. Some pundits say that by 2020 states such as Texas and Arizona will be considered swing states because of the Latino segment. If the Republicans do not address this immediately the party may be lost. Senator Marco Rubio explained that, “the conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate out beliefs to them.” The GOP needs to make a conscious effort to reach out to the groups that they have ignored for so long.

Another game changing group that the GOP has increased tension with is women. Women make up 53 percent of the electorate and most are independent voters. President Obama won the female vote by 55 to 44 percent. This wedge was caused by derogatory comments made from Republican candidates and the image that the Obama campaign painted of the GOP in regard to women. The Obama campaign released commercials claiming Romney was against women’s rights and if Republicans took the reigns women would be in danger of not having the right to choose what to do with their bodies. Now, let’s be realistic here, the Republican Party cannot single-handedly turn back the clock on women’s rights and force them into submission. That’s never going to happen. The GOP needs to reach out to women and reassure them of this. The party needs to ease the tension with female voters by showing more compassion and flexibility on social issues. I’m not saying that the Republican Party needs to completely shift their ideology but they do need to make some concessions.

The GOP is in serious risk of losing out on a pivotal party of history. They cannot afford to ignore Hispanics, women, and other minority groups. The party needs to have a makeover and listen to the voices of the minorities because without their support future loss is inevitable.

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