The traditional Republican base is now too small—the party must forge a new oneby Peter Kellner / November 14, 2012 / Leave a comment
The Republicans found themselves on the wrong side of demography and millions of moderate voters
Barack Obama has many people to thank for his victory over Mitt Romney. They include his family, his White House and Democratic party colleagues, his financial backers and the activists in swing states who mobilised his voters. But there is someone else to whom he owes a special debt of gratitude: Rupert Murdoch. And if things stay as they are, Obama’s Democratic successors will have cause to bless Murdoch, too. You read that right. I do mean Murdoch, the creator of Fox News, the TV channel that tried to poison the minds of American voters against the president; that created a platform for Tea Party politicians; that seriously tried to persuade viewers that Obamacare was tantamount to socialist tyranny; that climate change is a myth. By extending its influence over the Republican party, it killed the party’s chances of ousting Obama.
We can see this from YouGov’s campaign polls and the exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and the television networks. In essence, the Republicans found themselves on the wrong side both of long-term trends in the country’s demography, and the values of tens of millions of moderate Americans. They chained themselves to the views of a shrinking minority of Americans: white voters on the conservative far right. In so doing, they alienated themselves from the very people who might otherwise have voted to get rid of Obama: people struggling to make ends meet, worried about the future and fearful that they might be unable to access good schools and healthcare for their family.
The basic numbers make this clear. White voters opted for Romney over Obama by a massive 17m margin. But non-white voters preferred Obama by an even more massive margin of 20m. In particular, the president won a higher share of the growing Hispanic vote. Compared with 2008, he won 4m fewer white votes and 2m fewer black votes—but 2m more Hispanic votes. In 2004 George W Bush won 44 per cent of the Hispanic vote. This year Romney won only 28 per cent. The Republicans must reverse this trend; otherwise future elections will be even harder to win, as the total Hispanic electorate is growing at roughly half a million a year. If the different racial groups…