Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-SC)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

“The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
Washington Post, August 29, 2012

The fact that the Republican Party is the party of white men isn’t news. As the Washington Post reported in the same article quoted above, exit polls from 2008 indicated that roughly nine out of every ten voters for the Republican Party were white. Polling this year indicates a similar trend: A recent poll conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journalfound President Obama leading Republican nominee Mitt Romney among African Americans by a margin of 94 to 0 (that is not a misprint), and another recent poll conducted by impreMedia and Latino Decisions found Romney trailing by nearly 30 points among the fast-growing Latino population. Ethnic minorities aren’t the only problem facing the Republican Party, where Romney faces a steep deficit among women as well.

It’s no secret, nor any surprise, that conventional wisdom holds that these numbers spell eventual doom for the Republican Party as the electorate becomes less and less white. The increase in the minority electorate means that in order to have any viable shot at winning right now, Gov. Romney will need to command landslide numbers among white voters. Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine shows just how steep this hole is:

A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry over Mitt Romney’s birth certificate crack and a potential convention-altering hurricane. The subject was a Ron Brownstein story outlining the demographic hit rates each party requires to win in November. To squeak out a majority, Mitt Romney probably needs to win at least 61 percent of the white vote — a figure exceeding what George H.W. Bush commanded over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.

In order to win, in other words, the Republican candidate would have to do better among white voters than any other Republican has in essentially the past quarter-century. But unless the 1988 election, where that discrepancy among white voters produced a landslide in the electoral college for George H. W. Bush, such a figure would only be a break-even number for the Republican nominee this November.