Changing Demographics Threaten Republican Texas
Yes, demographics talk will dominate the political discourse – and it should worry us. Immigration, as an issue, and Republican ineptitude to convey a sensible policy to ameliorate our perceived anti-immigrant leanings, ruined the Californian Republican Party forever. Furthermore, New York and Pennsylvania are, to coin a term from Senator-elect Ted Cruz, “unalterably” Democratic. Based on the last presidential election, we’re already down 104 electoral votes coming out of the gate – and with Texas’ demographic realignment, we could see the Lone Star state revert back to it’s Democratic leanings. Thus, the largest bloc of guaranteed electoral votes for Republicans would either swing to the liberals, or be up for grabs. That would be 142 electoral votes Democrats would lock up just because their people showed up to vote. Not only is that unacceptable, but it’ll spell the end of the Republican Party winning presidential contests.
Ted Cruz, who was featured in Ryan Lizza’s Nov. 19 piece in The New Yorker, has a grim warning.
If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community,” he said, “in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state.” He ticked off some statistics: in 2004, George W. Bush won forty-four per cent of the Hispanic vote nationally; in 2008, John McCain won just thirty-one per cent. On Tuesday, Romney fared even worse.
“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” he said. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House…if Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’ ”
As Republicans plan to have a long discussion on how to court Latinos more effectively:
…Ted Cruz argues that Hispanics can be won over by appeals to traditional values of hard work. “I’ve never in my life seen a Hispanic panhandler,” he said, as we rode out of San Antonio. “In the Hispanic community, it would be considered shameful to be out on the street begging.” He added, “They have conservative values. Hispanics don’t want to be on the dole. They’re not here to be dependent on government.” He rejected the idea that Republicans needed to go back to the Bush-era policies on immigration. “I think those that say that, for Republicans to connect with the Hispanic community, they need to adopt amnesty and not secure the borders, I think that’s foolishness.”
Many Republicans in Texas suggested that the fact that Cruz is Hispanic is enough for him to win votes in that community. To prove the point, some mentioned Quico Canseco, a Republican who won a Texas House seat in 2010 in a Democratic district by running as a Tea Party conservative, and whose reëlection bid this year was closely contested. His district is sixty-six per cent Hispanic and spreads some six hundred miles, from San Antonio to the western edge of Texas. It includes most of the state’s border with Mexico. Like Cruz, Canseco, both in 2010 and in 2012, ran as an opponent of the kind of immigration reforms championed by George W. Bush. A few days before the election, when I interviewed Canseco, who is the son of Mexican immigrants and was born in Laredo, a border town that is ninety-six per cent Hispanic, he gave no hint of moderation on any of the immigration issues that have become so important to conservative Republicans in the past few years.
However, that’s just one congressional district. Like women, Hispanics aren’t a monolithic voting bloc. Cubans tend to vote Republican, although Mitt Romney lost this demographic by two points this year in Florida. That should alarm all of us. What inroads we have left with this demographic are crumbling rapidly. Puerto Ricans lean Democratic – and Tejanos lean Republican due to their history in the state’s roots, according to Lizza. It may be a multi-tiered outreach project. If so, that’s great. So, let’s dial down the secession petitions – and work on our comeback.