National Journal’s Ron Brownstein provided an eye-opening reminder in a column last week about the impact of changing ethnic demographics on America’s political landscape.
The flashing red light of Brownstein’s message is pointed to the Republican Party.
America is changing inexorably into a country that is less and less white, and the Republican Party remains today a party whose base is overwhelmingly white.
Brownstein estimates that Barack Obama could be re-elected this year with as little as 39 percent of the white vote. He notes that in 2008, when Obama won with just 43 percent of the white vote, it was the first time ever that a presidential candidate was victorious with double digit losses of white voters.
To offer additional perspective on the same point, consider that in 2008, 74 percent of the American electorate was white. When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, 88 percent of the electorate was white.
Projections show that this trend will continue, with the white percentage of the electorate continuing to shrink.
With black and Hispanic voters seemingly ensconced with the Democrats – Barack Obama won 95 percent of the black vote and 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008 – is there anything Republicans can do to turn around what seems to be an inevitable train wreck for their party?
Many Republican strategists have given up hope regarding prospects with black voters and conclude that if there are possible inroads it’s with Hispanics.
But even if this is accurate, it’s long-run thinking. Blacks still significantly outstrip Hispanics in number of voters turning out at the polls.
According to New York Times exit polls in the 2008 presidential election, blacks represented 13 percent of the electorate and Hispanics 9 percent. In the 2010 midterm elections, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, 10.9 million black voters turned out, compared to 6.6 million Hispanics.
A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center adds to the sobering news for Republicans.
According to this survey, 30 percent of Hispanics self-identify as liberal compared to 21 percent of the general population.
When asked to express preference for “bigger government providing more services” versus “smaller government providing fewer services,” 75 percent of Hispanics prefer bigger government compared to 41 percent of the general population.
To add another layer to this daunting portrait, huge, well-financed organizations – to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars – already exist to keep pumping out arguments for big government to blacks and Hispanics. The National Urban League, NAACP, National Council of La Raza.
There are no operations that even approach this to deliver a conservative message to these communities.
So do pure demographics point to our being beyond the point of no return regarding America’s transformation into a big government, social welfare nation?
Nothing is inevitable. But for Republicans and/or conservatives to ignore this challenge and not actively engage is to invite disaster.
What can be done?
I believe this is one more powerful reason why Republicans cannot let the social agenda fall by the wayside and pretend we can talk about dismantling big government and reinventing our entitlement programs while the American family collapses.
When Reagan became president, 18 percent of our babies were born out of wedlock compared to 41 percent today.
Seventy-two percent of black babies and 53 percent of Hispanic babies are now born out of wedlock.
Yet both blacks and Hispanics attend church more frequently than the national average.
Efforts must be expended to reach black and Hispanic clergy and community leaders to raise awareness how big government and moral relativism six days a week overwhelms the message heard from the pulpit on Sunday.
Single-parent homes are a ticket to poverty. This is a message that can save our country.