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The Party Line is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s elections, debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development. The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

GOP Has Long Way To Go In Appealing To Minorities

Michael Bitzer
Michael Bitzer

In their rather blunt assessment of the debacle that was the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee came to a simple conclusion. It can’t continue down the same path and remain politically relevant.

In particular, the report acknowledged that “[y]oung voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us” (page 4).

With North Carolina being the closest state that the GOP presidential candidate won in 2012 and that continues to be a battleground presidential state, the Republicans should also look more in-depth at these two voting blocs to see what specifically they are up against in future electoral contests.

In the 2012 general election, voters who were 18-25 years old made up 10 percent of the ballots cast, while those 26-40 were 22 percent, those 41-65 were 48 percent, and those 66 and older were 20 percent of the ballots cast.

Granted, 10 percent of the total electorate isn’t that much, but considering that Romney won this state by only 2 percent out of 4.6 million votes cast, GOP and Democratic strategists should investigate their perspectives. 

If you look at the party registration figures within these various age groups, you will find the reason why GOP is bringing new resolve to attracting younger voters.

For those voters who entered the political realm in 2012, barely a quarter of them were registered Republicans.  Among the next age group, registered Republicans were tied with registered unaffiliated voters, which should be a worrisome sign for the Grand Old Party. 

Within the youngest voter bracket, the party registration figures between white votes and non-white voters show a devastating difference between the two groups.

Only 4 percent of non-white voters were registered Republicans, in comparison to non-Hispanic/Latino white voters, a plurality (42 percent) of whom were registered Republicans.

Granted, we would expect Southern white voters to lean Republican, but the groups that are experiencing the largest growth in population, and soon to be electoral strength, are non-white voters.

In breaking down non-white voters casting ballots, we would expect black voters to be overwhelmingly registered Democrats, and the numbers from last year’s general election show that 81 percent of 18-25 year old black voters were registered Democrats, with 17 percent being registered unaffiliated. Only 2 percnet of young black voters were registered Republicans.

Among the other key demographic group, Hispanic/Latino voters, registered Democrats made up nearly half of each age group, but as you go from older to younger Hispanic/Latino voters, the percentage of registered Republicans drops from 25 percent to 13 percent.  

If your party can’t even get a growing population to register with your party, how do you expect them to vote for your party?  The only saving grace for the GOP among NC Hispanic/Latino voters is the fact that 38 percent of young voters are registered unaffiliated, and so they may be open to future persuasion.

But if the national party continues its current trajectory, it will work its way into minority status at the national level.

Andrew Kohut, former president of the Pew Research Center, has written that the Republican Party has found itself “estranged from America.”

According to the Pew Research Center, a plurality of the GOP (45 percent) identify themselves as “staunch conservatives,” and of these Republicans, 92% are white.  This group is also male, Protestant, and at least 50 years old. 

As I’ve noted before, North Carolina’s new status of presidential battleground state may offer the national GOP a chance to road test a new message to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate.  But if the members behind the party refuse to accept the “new message,” it doesn’t matter how many Facebook pages, tweets, or other social media initiatives the party develops.

Nationally, the Grand Old Party could continue to find itself the “Not-So-Grand and Very Old White Party.”