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Election showed national GOP must change its approach

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: November 9, 2012

IT says something about President Barack Obama's campaign machine that despite his dismal record on the economy, which left voters of all stripes uneasy enough that he earned a smaller percentage of the popular and Electoral College votes than he had four years earlier, he still won re-election. This says just as much about the national Republican Party, too.

Simply put: The GOP must change in the next few years or it faces the prospect of more stinging defeats such as the one it felt Tuesday night.

In Mitt Romney, the party offered voters a candidate who was able to get things accomplished while governing a dark blue state, a man with the sort of strong business and leadership skills that seemed well-suited to attacking the nation's pressing economic and fiscal concerns, a man untainted by personal or political scandal. And yet Romney couldn't pull it out.

The reasons for this are many, but a primary one is seen in the demographic breakdowns. The Romney/Ryan ticket did fine among the traditional Republican base — older, white voters. But younger voters went for Obama/Biden in a big way. Democrats also won the female vote and they carried the minority vote, particularly the Hispanic vote, by a wide margin.

The Hispanic vote is particularly telling. Republicans haven't seemed to grasp that, like it or not, Hispanics comprise the fastest-growing demographic in the United States. This year they made up 10 percent of the electorate, and they broke for Obama by a 71-27 percent margin. That's no doubt due in large part to Republican-led efforts across the country (including Oklahoma) to enact punishing immigration-related legislation.

Romney erred during the primaries when, in an effort to lure hard-right Republicans, he tacked to the right of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on immigration. He later pitched “self-deportation” as a possible solution to illegal immigration. In the end he drew less Hispanic support than John McCain had four years earlier. “We have got to pay attention to Latinos,” Republican strategist Karl Rove put it bluntly Wednesday on Fox News.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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