WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2012 — So much for the expectations that the presidential election would be close. It was not. President Obama won handily. Not because he offered a broad vision for the country- he did not. In fact, the Obama campaign was divisive, manipulative, and at times directionless.
Early on, the campaign simply sliced and diced the electorate into sub-groups, with targeted messages for each group. None of which was connected to any broader message.
The campaign decided that it was important to re-energize young voters so they sent the president to college campuses to talk about student loans. They wanted to keep the gender gap in their favor so all of a sudden the conversation shifted to the Republican war on women.
They wanted to show that President Obama was on the side of the middle-class so they moved on to talking about the “Buffet rule” and then to attacking Gov. Romney as a vulture capitalist. They were not kidding when they said they would try to delegitimize Romney.
He was called a flip flopper without a core. He was blamed for a woman’s death of cancer, not paying taxes and suggesting he committed a felony, outsourcing jobs to China and India while hoarding millions of dollars in a Swiss bank account and keeping tax havens in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. They even said Romney suffers from a political disease: “Romnesia.”
Nevertheless, the smallness of the Obama campaign did not prevent him from winning.
Obama won because Latinos all across the country came out to vote in record numbers.
America will be a minority nation in the next generation. Every month, approximately 50,000 Latinos turn 18 years of age. The failure of the Republican Party to appeal to these voters will continue to hurt them in national elections.
The typical Republican conversation on the issue of immigration usually starts and ends with border security.
Remember when GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain said he would build an electrified border fence that could kill people trying to enter the country illegally? Okay fine, he later said that was a joke and Americans should get a sense of humor. That is the kind of insensitivity that many Latinos witnessed during the Republican primary.
As for Mitt Romney, in an effort to appear more “severely conservative” than his Republican counterparts on immigration, his answer to immigration reform was for illegal immigrants to “self-deport.” That statement did not help his cause.
If Romney had the same percentage of the Hispanic vote that President George W. Bush did in 2000 (35 percent) or 2004 (40 percent), he would be the President of the United States today.
Nationwide, President Obama won the Latino vote by 71 percent to Romney’s 27 percent- the worst percentage for any Republican since 1996 when Bob Dole won 21 percent of the Latino vote.
In swing states, the Latino support for President Obama margin was staggering: Nevada (70 percent to 25 percent), Florida (60 percent to 39 percent), Colorado (75 percent to 23 percent), Pennsylvania (82 percent to 16 percent), and Ohio (56 percent to 40 percent).
The Republican Party will be reduced to a regional party if it fails to reach out to Latinos. Immigrants not only keep the American economy vibrant but they also enrich its culture and diversity. Without immigrants, America will be like Europe with an aging population and fewer young people to keep the country strong.
Perhaps more Republicans should listen to Gov. Jeb Bush’s advice on the four ways Republicans can win Hispanics back.
Without genuine outreach to Latinos, a softer tone on immigration, and greater sensitivity to the plight of those in the Latino community, the Republican Party will continue to lose presidential elections.
Ayobami is a graduate student in George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. For questions, comments, or story suggestions, contact him on Twitter or Facebook
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