Back in the 2002 and 2004 elections, Karl Rove boasted he wanted a “permanent Republican majority.” In 2010, after they swept the House, the GOP caught Rove fever again.
But now an analysis of the last huge state which has, since the 1960s, consistently delivered the GOP a big chunk of the electoral college shows that it is a matter of when, not if, it will turn blue — and that could block the GOP from the White House unless it makes radical policy shifts.
That state is Texas. And the reason is Hispanic voters.
Kos points out that in the entire state, 43.1 percent of public schoolchildren were Anglo in 2000, compared to just 30.5 percent now. In many school districts, the vast majority of school kids are non-white.
Dr. Stephen Klinberg of the Rice University Kinder Institute has been conducting the Houston Area Survey for 30 years. In that period of time, the demographic changes of Houston have been dramatic.
Consider that in 1960, Harris County (Houston sits in Harris County) was 73.9% Anglo and the population was a little over 1.2 million. By 1980, the population was 2.4 million and Anglos comprised 69.2% of the County. 2000 — 3.4 million and Anglo population was now 42.5%. As of the 2010 Census, Harris County is a little over 4 million people and Anglos are only 33% of the population.
As one Texas demographer noted: “Itís basically over for Anglos.”
There will have to be a sea of change in Hispanic opinion of the GOP if that demographic change is not going to turn Texas blue — Romney is currently winning somewhere between 14% and 27% of those voters in national polls.
Texas is already light blue on electoral maps; Romney is only ahead 50-43 at the moment.
In fact, it would be even tighter if there were not 2.7 million Hispanics who are currently unregistered. And, as Kos points out, if the Texas Democrats did not have such an “abysmal record turning out their [Hispanic] constituents.”
In 2008, just 38 percent of Texas Hispanics cast a ballot, compared to 57 percent in California. In 2010, less than a quarter of Texas Hispanics turned out.
And once Texas goes blue, what possible route to the White House is there for a Republican unless the party changes tack on issues which are currently repelling this key voting block?
Glenn Greenwald argues in the New York Times that what you heard on the primary trail will be the last gasp of a particular sort of GOP:
When a political party begins to fail competitively, as the G.O.P. is clearly doing now, it, too, simply rebrands itself. Recall that in 2008, the G.O.P. was assumed by pundits to be dead for a generation because of the profound, historic unpopularity of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. But the G.O.P. simply re-invented itself with a new brand identity (the Tea Party) and swamped the Democrats a mere two years later. If the G.O.P. is weighed down by obsolete or unpopular associations ó anti-immigrant or anti-gay animosity ó it will simply jettison those planks or change their image, just as Democrats did under Bill “New Democrat” Clinton to escape the stigma of Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis.
But will they? Really? What do you think?
Photo credit: Pablo Manriquez