GOP and the nonwhite vote

19 July 2009 |permalink | email article

How Republicans approach the issue of regaining the nonwhite vote is now a riveting issue in national electoral politics. Michael Steele, the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee, joked last week that he would welcome blacks to the party with “fried chicken and potato salad.” Not good enough!

There is the embarrassing juxtaposition of Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, attacking Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court nominee, over racial language. It was Sessions whose own nomination to the federal court was torpedoed by reports he had called the N.A.A.C.P. “communist-inspired.”

But nothing tops the nativist Pat Buchanan, who demanded that Republicans mount an all-out, reverse discrimination assault on Sotomayor as part of an effort to regain the GOP’s lost white voters because of her lifetime effort “to discriminate against white males.’

It doesn’t matter to Buchanan if Hispanics are offended by GOP attacks on Sotomayor because he says there were 10 times more white voters in November than Hispanic ones. 

On Saturday insightful New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow addressed the issue of the GOP shedding minorities on the road to perhaps perpetual defeat.

He notes that nationally, the percentage of the electorate that is white has fallen 15 percent since 1980 while the Hispanic portion continues to grow.

In some states, Hispanics are also shifting allegiances. In 2004, Bush won Florida by 5 points; in November McCain lost it by nearly 3 points, but they both got about the same percentage of the white vote.

The reason is that in large part most of Florida’s Hispanic voters swung Democratic. According to an October 2008 report by the Pew Hispanic Center, last year the number of Florida Hispanics who were registered Democrats outnumbered those registered Republicans by 13 percent. As recently as 2006, those registered Republicans outnumbered those registered Democrat by 11 percent.

The GOP’s downward trajectory is such that it’s on course to inherit the fate of the 19th century Whigs. This is now a very different country.



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