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GOP minorities win seats, but party struggles

Published: Friday, Aug. 31 2012 4:26 p.m. MDT

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite, ASSOCIATED PRESS) New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

"Heart of Whiteness," reads a Salon headline, pointing to the stereotype of the Republican male, white voter — a stereotype the Republican Party struggles to overcome.

According to Pew Research, Republicans have a long-term challenge if they cannot shake that image.

"The numbers tell the story," wrote Elizabeth Dwoskin in Businessweek. "Almost 87 percent of registered Republican voters are white, according to the Pew Research Center. In contrast, 61 percent of registered Democrats are white, 21 percent are black, and 10 percent are Hispanic. These numbers are becoming more important because minorities have accounted for 85 percent of the country’s population growth over the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau."

Star Parker points to a recent survey of the Pew Hispanic Center that suggests significant challenges ahead for Republicans, noting that where 21 percent of the American population identifies itself as liberal, 30 percent of Latinos do.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Florida Senator Marco Rubio addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

And to verify what this means, Parker notes the follow-up question: "When asked to express preference for 'bigger government providing more services versus smaller government providing fewer services,' 75 percent of Hispanics prefer bigger government compared to 41 percent of the general population."

The irony is the GOP is making strides in electing minority leaders. Currently, four of the five ethnic-minority governors in the United States are Republican, and three of the four female governors.

These are the numbers that lurked behind the back and forth on race this week in Tampa, Fla., as Republicans assigned prime-time slots to their minority and female stars such as Utah's Mia Love, Texas GOP Senate nominee Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, speaking at the convention on Wednesday, traced her own conversion path to the GOP.

Former Representative Artur Davis addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Former Representative Artur Davis addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

"Before I ran for district attorney, two Republicans invited my husband and me to lunch," Martinez said. "And I knew a party-switch was exactly what they wanted. So, I told Chuck, we'll be polite, enjoy a free lunch and then say goodbye."

"And when we left that lunch," she said, after talking about issues and ideas, "we got in the car and I looked over at Chuck and said, 'I'll be damned, we're Republicans.’ ”

But the battle to define the GOP's appeal to racial and ethnic minorities will continue, as Republicans look for a formula that appeals to minorities.

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