The poll numbers tell a stark truth for Mitt Romney, but it’s an even starker one for the Republican Party.
Romney trails President Barack Obama by 9 points among women, by 40 percent among Latinos and by 90 percent among African-Americans.
Based on this week’s Republican National Convention, where numerous members of the aforementioned groups spoke, the Romney campaign is putting forth significant effort into reversing those numbers.
Even if Romney should cobble together enough of a coalition to defeat Obama, the long-term trends are not good for the GOP. That’s a problem Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was addressing this week when he told The Washington Post:
“The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
Graham’s Communication’s Director Kevin Bishop told Patch: “What the Senator said is a fact. It’s not a matter of opinion,” Bishop said. “It’s something that (former Fla. Sen. Mel) Martinez, (former Fla. Gov.) Jeb Bush and (Fla. Sen.) Marco Rubio have been talking about for a while.”
Bishop pointed out that 41 percent of Latino voters supported George W. Bush in 2000 and approximately 35 percent in 2004. Support from that voting block made a difference in two very close elections. In 2008, the support fell to 32 percent and John McCain lost.*
“Latino support for the GOP has declined in important swing states like Colorado and Florida, “Bishop said. “Latino voters aren’t strictly concerned with immigration. They care about social issues and economic opportunity also and we need to speak to that.”
But talk of a racial and cultural divide was still apparent in the party.
Prior to the convention Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and talk show host Chris Matthews got into an argument about the party’s alleged use of “dog whistles.”
During the convention two delegates were sent home for making racially-insensitive remarks to an African-American employee from CNN. And one of the delegates from Puerto Rico was drowned out with chants of, “USA! USA!” that, at first glance, appeared directed at her, though they were directed at a breakaway group of Ron Paul supporters. Still, the optics were not what the GOP was hoping for during its national gathering.
Reaching out to voters outside the older, overwhelmingly white base is something that Sen. Tom Davis (R- Beaufort) has also been advocating.
“The Republican Party needs to respond to this,” Davis told Patch.
In addition to the groups already mentioned, Davis, who supported Paul during the primary season, believes the party needs to reach out to young people.
“The party keeps putting them off, but these kids are figuring out what the debt means and what is facing them,” Davis said. “A lot of them responded to Obama four years ago, but they are shopping now."
“There is a window of opportunity for the GOP, but it’s closing,” Davis said, who is thought by many to be a possible challenger for Graham’s seat.
But Davis said the party has made progress, particularly adding a platform item that requires an audit of the Federal Reserve. Davis said he’s open to an audit of the Defense Department. “We need to look at our own sacred cows,” Davis explained. Otherwise we’re just being hypocrites if we only go after entitlements.”
This all-cards-on-the-table approach, Davis argues, is one that will appeal to voters of all backgrounds.
*Corrected with more precise figures.