Jim Clark: GOP entering demographic wars at disadvantage
March 4, 2015
While Republicans are busy congratulating themselves on their congressional and state legislative electoral successes,Democrats are scratching their collective heads and trying to make some sense out of it.
The Democratic National Committee just released a report and analysis of the 2014 election, which concludes that their relatively poor showing was due to a drop in Latino voter turnout.
The report looks at 35 states with appreciable Hispanic populations including Nevada. The national figures were close to those of the Silver State, so let's take a look at the results here at home.
Latinos constitute 27 percent of Nevada's population and have helped provide an edge to Democratic candidates in the past.
Democratic Sen. Harry Reid credits his 2010 reelection to the Latino vote and expects support from this cohort next year, when he says he will run again.
Registered Latino voters constituted about 15 percent of all registered Nevada voters in 2010, rising to 17 percent in 2012 and an estimated 19 percent in 2014.
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Turnout was 6.2 percent in 2010 and 7.8 percent in 2012, but fell to 5.9 percent in 2014, the year the GOP overwhelmingly retained the statehouse and recaptured both houses of the legislature.
The Democratic Leadership Task Force, which compiled and released the report, announced that the party is conducting a review to determine how to win back voters who dropped out this past election. Its top stated goal is: "to reclaim voters that we've lost, including … key constituencies such as African-American women and Latinas, and mobilizing the broadest coalition of voters possible not only to recapture state houses but also Congress."
How will they go about that? Democrat Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who was counting on Latino voter support in her run for Nevada lieutenant governor against Republican Mark Hutchison, lost her election 59 percent to 33 percent.
She blames Latino frustration with both parties due to failure to get an immigration reform bill. Presumably then, Democrats believe that if they can nurse "Obamamnesty" (presidential executive order to stop deportation of 5 million illegal aliens) through the federal court of appeal and get a reversal of the trial court, everything will be hunky dory.
Looking ahead, Republicans have a much different problem. The conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute and the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress have actually worked together to make some sense of demographic trends and what they portend for the future.
As of 2015, there are four majority-minority states in the union: California, New Mexico, Texas and Hawaii. This is expected to gradually increase until in 2060, when the US will have 22 majority-minority states.
What's driving this? Take Nevada for example. Of Nevada's two most populous counties, Washoe is currently overall 64 percent white and 23 percent Hispanic.
But look at the breakdown by age group: of those age 80 or over, 86 percent are white and 23 percent Hispanic; of those age zero to four, 45 percent are white and 39 percent Hispanic.
Clark County overall is 46 percent white and 30 percent Hispanic, but of those 80 or over, 73 percent are white and 31 percent Hispanic. Of those age zero to four, 45 percent are white and 39 percent Hispanic.
So as time passes, the white population declines and the Latino population increases. This is true nationally, not just in Nevada.
Historically, Democrats have considered minority voters their natural constituencies, but the 2014 election has shaken their belief in this "maxim."
Republicans, who are challenging "Obamamnesty" and demanding voter photo identification laws (both seen by Hispanics as discriminatory), are entering the demographic wars at a disadvantage.
Will Democrats reconnect with minority voters? Will Republicans pursue an agenda consistent with their historical principles yet attractive to all ethnic groups?
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada State GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at email@example.com.