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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/8/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Republican strategy failed to appeal to Catholics, other key demographics.

As Republicans autopsy the election, they are learning just where and how their campaign to elect Mitt Romney went wrong. So far, very few analysts seem to agree, but there are some eyebrow raising numbers.

No successful candidate can afford to ignore the Catholic vote.

No successful candidate can afford to ignore the Catholic vote.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/8/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Catholics, catholic vote, Republicans, Democrats, election, 2012, Mitt Romney, strategy


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Obama picked up three large blocks of the American population. He won support from more than 90 percent of the black population and about 70 percent of the Hispanic population. Finally, he won the all-important women's vote. 

Obama also did well with youth voters, garnering a majority from those under 44. All other major demographics voted with Romney. The religious sided with the challenger, giving him 60 percent of their vote. 

Interestingly, the Catholic vote went to Obama. Despite a virtual declaration of war between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church, Obama still won the 10 largest Catholic states in the union. 

The reason why Obama did so well with these populations is because he targeted them and their concerns quite deliberately. More importantly, many minority voters have trouble identifying with the Republican Party, which they see as conservative and overwhelmingly white. 

The minority population is also growing more rapidly than the white population, per captia. That means minority voters now make up a larger share of the electorate than ever before. In 1996, only 10 percent of voters were non-whites. In 2012, that number has more than doubled to 21 percent. 

In fact, minority voters may not be minorities for much longer. In states such as California, whites are now less than 50 percent of the population. 

These demographics reveal that Romney's weak appeal to minorities was a costly factor. His late appeal to women did gain him some ground, but not enough to win him the election. 

Interestingly, the Catholic swing vote, which was predicted months in advance, went to Obama, despite pleas and warnings from Church officials to parishioners that a vote for Obama would be a vote against themselves. 

So why would so many people willingly vote against their self-interest?

The answer lies in Romney's campaign, and in particular, what it failed to do. Romney's campaign focused on white, middle and upper class citizens, particularly males. This bore fruit for him. Most of this demographic supported his bid. 

However, Romney seemed to alienate key parts of the electorate. In previous campaigns, these elements could be sacrificed to appeal to the base, but no more. The fact is, blacks, Hispanics, women, and Catholics have arrived. They now wield significant political power. Subordinating their issues to traditional, main-stream issues, such as those frequently espoused by the tea party, for example, is a losing recipe. 

The message to Republicans, who spent a billion dollars appealing to their core demographic, is a troubling one. The Republican shift to the right is a bankrupt position. It may still serve politicos in primaries and local, or even state elections, but at a national level, the (now-infamous) pivot to the middle made famous by a Romney manager, is much more important. It needs to happen even before the race begins. It needs to start NOW.

Appeals made during the primary matter. Romney's comment about the "47 percent" resonated with many in the black and Hispanic communities, whose populations tend to be poorer than those in the white demographic. Many blacks and Hispanics say they felt Romney was speaking about them or their neighbors when he made that comment, although Romney never elaborated on this. 

In the future, Republicans cannot afford to ignore these populations in national races. Of course, to be fair, these populations weren't entirely ignored, but they weren't courted either. More importantly, the Republican Party entirely must do more to fold these people into their base long before election cycles begin. 

And the Catholic vote, the one key that has proven decisive in several previous elections, simply cannot be ignored. This demographic, possibly above all others, should be targeted with great enthusiasm. Catholics make natural Republicans as far as the party clearly supports the three non-negotiable issues set forth by Pope Benedict XVI, which are life, marriage and family, and authentic human freedom. 

However, to get the Catholic vote, and the votes of those in the other demographics, the party will have to pivot more to the center on some issues. For example, Republican support of the death penalty and an emphasis on draconian cuts to social services will have to be moderated. 

If the Republican Party can moderate its message and appeal to these demographics, then it stands a good chance of emerging victorious the next time around. However, if the party leadership remains stubbornly attached to the tea party base and fails to broaden its appeals, then its leadership can look forward to more money wasted and more head scratching as the Democrats seize greater chunks of power. 


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