Some important divisions among Republican officials surfaced in the wake of the 2012 elections, but most of the party agrees on one over-arching strategy: Republicans are going to have to do better among non-white voters. It’s an increasingly diverse nation, and the GOP’s core base is overwhelmingly white – a problem that appears to be getting worse, not better.
With this in mind, the Republican National Committee is launching yet another minority outreach campaign, and may even end up grudgingly supporting comprehensive immigration reform. The Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, a long-time leader of the religious right movement and anti-feminist activist, is convinced her party has it all wrong.
[I]n an interview this week with conservative radio program Focus Today, Schlafly just came right out and said it. Calling the GOP’s need to reach out to Latinos a “great myth,” Schlafly said that “the people the Republicans should reach out to are the white votes, the white voters who didn’t vote in the last election.” Schlafly accused the Republican “establishment” of nominating “a series of losers … who don’t connect with the grassroots.”
Look, this isn’t complicated. White voter turnout rates have been pretty steady over the last few presidential-year election cycles, and both John McCain and Mitt Romney won the support of a majority of white voters. Indeed, it wasn’t especially close – McCain won 55% of the white vote in 2008 (en route to losing the election badly), and Romney did even better, winning 59% of the white vote (en route to losing the election badly).
Schlafly is under the impression that there’s this untapped reservoir of conservative white voters, just sitting at home, waiting for the Republican Party to reach out to them with a message they’ll like, and if Democrats are really lucky, GOP officials will take Schlafly’s advice seriously.
Because as the nation becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, conservative dead-enders who still see an emphasis on white voters as the key to electoral salvation are kidding themselves.
But even if we put these pesky details aside, I have a related question for Schlafly and those who agree with her: exactly what would it look like if Republicans tried even harder to “reach out to … the white votes”? The GOP is already looking an awful lot like the driven snow, so what more can party leaders do, specifically, to make white folks feel even more welcome?