WASHINGTON, November 8 (By Maria Young for RIA Novosti) - Now that America knows who its next president will be, certain political realities are becoming clear, namely – the power of white, male voters in the US continues to weaken, supplanted by the growing influence of women, Hispanics and a reenergized youth vote.
Those groups helped propel President Barack Obama of the Democratic Party to reelection and are forcing the opposition Republican Party to perhaps embrace America’s shifting demographic if it wants to occupy the White House again in the near future.
“If I was the Republican Party, I would be sitting down right now trying to figure out how we’re going to call up the president and say, ‘Let’s do a deal on immigration reform,’” said Jim Manley, a longtime spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and now a Democratic strategist with QGA Public Affairs, a Washington-based lobbying firm.
“The irony is that the Hispanic community is very conservative in some of its views but all they have to do is listen to the Republican candidate talk about self-deportation (of undocumented immigrants) and he’s off the table, and they have managed to antagonize one of the fastest growing demographics in the country,” Manley said.
Hispanics now represent 11 percent of eligible voters in the US, up from 8 percent in 2004, according to the US Census Bureau.
Exit polls conducted by The Associated Press at 350 polling places across the nation on Election Day show Hispanic voters overwhelmingly supported Obama over Republican rival Mitt Romney, 71 percent to 27 percent.
Census figures also show the Hispanic voting population is only going to grow: overall, they make up 17 percent of the US population now, but many are below voting age.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham pegged it back in August, when he said, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
The frustration is almost tangible, particularly because the Republican Party has an issues platform that could attract the voters it so badly needs.
“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 our beliefs to them,” said Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican and one of three Latinos in the US Senate.
Romney also missed a needed opportunity to connect with younger voters. Those same exit polls show that among white voters, the older they are, the more likely they were to support Romney.
An estimated 23 million Americans under 30 turned out to vote, roughly 49 percent of the under-30 population, according to figures released Wednesday by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), which conducts research on political engagement of young Americans.
The Associated Press figures show 60 percent of those under-30 voters supported Obama.
“In Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, if Romney had won half the youth vote, or if young people had stayed home all together, he would have won those key battleground states,” the CIRCLE analysis found. “A switch of those 80 electoral votes would have also changed the presidency, electing Romney as president.”
“Considering that there are 46 million people between 18 and 29, this level of turnout makes them an essential political bloc,” said CIRCLE director Peter Levine.
“Right now, they form a key part of the Democrats’ national coalition. Republicans must find a way to compete for their votes.”
The other avenue for Republican growth is women voters.
“Older white males who are running for political office need to stop talking about rape,” said Manley.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he added, referring to controversial comments about abortion and rape by two Republicans, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin and Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who both lost their election bids.
“Thank God,” said progressive women’s magazine Cosmopolitan. “This election cycle has been filled with male politicians making judgments on what women should and shouldn't do with their bodies. Hopefully these voter results will shut that bad trend down once and for all.”
The rape comments were isolated remarks, but managed to underscore the impression that the Republican Party is filled with older, white men who want to dictate personal choices for women.
As Republicans join the Monday morning quarterbacking that will help them assess how best to move forward, some see hope for the future and an opportunity for the party to connect with conservative voters from all walks of life in a way it hasn’t yet managed to do.