Fresh off an electoral shellacking on a number of levels, Republicans across the country are indicating intraparty soul-searching, suggesting it's time to re-examine stances and look at widening the tent to woo traditionally Democratic demographics.
"It's clear that with our losses in the presidential race and a number of key Senate races, we have a period of reflection and recalibration ahead for the Republican Party," National Republican Senate Chairman John Cornyn said after the election. "While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost (Tuesday). Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead."
The answer to the electoral woes the GOP experienced on Election Day is demographics, pundits agreed, and Republicans need to expand the party to reach out to new and growing groups of voters.
Latinos, in particular, will likely be a specific group Republicans seek to attract, reporter David Gregory said during a panel discussion Wednesday.
"The party has got to find a way to reach out to Latinos, the fastest growing voting bloc, to become a more diverse party with the ability to shed some of the orthodoxy around taxes, around spending, over the role of government, and this process is going to begin this morning — the soul searching and redefinition," Gregory said.
According to ABC News, President Barack Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote while Republican Mitt Romney won 27 percent. It was an improvement for Obama and a drop in Latino Republican support since George W. Bush, who won 40 percent of the Latino vote.
"Romney performed very well among white voters, but got hammered by African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and young voters," Guy Benson wrote in a Wednesday column at Townhall. "These problems aren't going to magically disappear."
Benson suggested that because Democrats will try to exploit GOP weakness in these areas, conservatives must begin to pick battles carefully and expand their appeal in order to account for electoral shifts.
Following on this vein of thought, Washington Post columnist George Will said Republican losses Tuesday will jumpstart the rise of Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and son of Cuban immigrants, within the party. Rubio was floated as a possible Romney vice president pick in early 2012 and spoke at the Republican National Convention in August. In April, Rubio began constructing a DREAM Act, offering undocumented students temporary visas with the possibility of permanent status.
"The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them," Rubio said after the election.
"We have to recognize the demographic changes in this country," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told The New York Times Wednesday. "Republicans cannot win with just rural white voters."
Pundits also suggested that Republicans need to acknowledge that the Democratic electorate appears to have expanded, and recalibrate accordingly.
"All through the months leading up to the election conservative pundits carped over the fact that polls supposedly oversample Democrats," Sean Higgins wrote at The Washington Examiner. "Well, now we know that they were wrong. The polls have run almost exactly along with the election results. It turns out they were sampling so many more Democrats . . . because there are more Democrats in the electorate now."
"Ari Fleischer points out the silver lining is that so far, Romney is winning independents," National Review's Jim Geraghty wrote in his Morning Jolt column following the election. "That's not a silver lining, that's worse news: Democrats don't really need independents anymore."
"Seeing a lot of folks I would have thought were SoCon opinion leaders taking to hear this loss, advocating recalibration on social issues," Mediaite's Noah Rothman tweeted. "If true, and 2012 becomes turning point when GOP moderates on immigration & gay marriage w/strong fiscal message, could be pyrric for Dems."
Romney's party, and not necessarily Romney himself, doomed his chances at being elected, Ross Douthat of The New York Times wrote Wednesday.
"A weak nominee in many ways, (Romney) was ultimately defeated less by his own limitations as a leader, and more by the fact that his party didn't particularly want to be reinvented, preferring to believe that the rhetoric and positions of 1980 and 1984 could win again in the America of 2012."
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