Ten months before the United States elects a new president, the Republican Party has yet to resolve a problem that its leaders said contributed to Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss to Barack Obama: a lack of support among Hispanic and younger voters.
The percentage of Republicans among those likely to vote in the Nov. 8, 2016, election lags Democrats by 9 percentage points, compared with a 6-point deficit in the year leading up to Obama’s 2012 victory, according to an analysis of Reuters/Ipsos polling data from 2012 and 2015.
While the American electorate has become more diverse the last three years, the party’s support among Hispanic likely voters and younger likely voters has shrunk significantly.
There’s an interesting analysis of a year’s worth of polling data out today from Reuters about party identification, and it shows how deep a challenge the GOP faces in the fall. Here’s an excerpt:
- In 2012, Democrats made up 44.7 percent of party-affiliated likely voters, compared to 39.1 percent Republicans, a difference of about 6 percentage points, according to the analysis of 87,778 likely presidential voters polled leading up to the 2012 presidential election. The results have a credibility interval of plus or minus 0.3 percentage points.
- Three years later, that lead had grown to nine points, 45.9 percent to 36.9 percent, according to the analysis of 93,181 likely presidential voters polled in 2015. The results in 2015 have the same credibility interval as 2012.
- Among Hispanics who are likely presidential voters, the percentage affiliated with the Republican Party has slipped nearly five points, from 30.6 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, Hispanic Democrats grew by six percentage points to 59.6 percent.
“It’s unclear whether [Chris Christie] can actually win given Donald trump’s current strength, but coming in second is only part of it,” said Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin [no relation, but great name!]. “Chris Christie needs to close the gap between Donald Trump and himself and he needs to widen the gap between himself and everyone who is nipping at his heels.”
If Christie comes out of the New Hampshire primary bunched up with Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush he wouldn’t have the same kind of momentum that he would if he could separate himself from the rest of the still-crowded GOP field, Dworkin explained.
In Iowa, Whispers of an Anti-Cruz (and Pro-Rubio) Alliance
Some who mistrust the Texas senator may tactically support Rubio over their first-choice candidates.
To a concerned and angry bunch of Iowa Republicans, their mission heading into next month’s caucuses is as simple as ABC: Anybody But Cruz. As the Texas senator solidifies his front-runner status with just over a month to go before the February 1 caucuses, a loose network of social-conservative activists has undertaken a quiet effort to defeat him by any means necessary — even if that means rallying together behind a more electable rival to their own preferred candidates.
Rubio doesn’t have any unique advantage in Iowa, which Cruz looks favored to win, or New Hampshire and South Carolina. If he doesn’t dominate the establishment lane in the first few contests, he might never get off the ground.
Who’s to blame for Rubio’s ongoing failure to launch? Noel points the finger at the candidate currently leading national polls who seems to short circuit every theory of conventional politics.
“Trump seemed to suck all the air out of the process, and that made it hard for people to figure out which of the party-friendly candidates (Bush, Rubio, Walker, Christie, etc.) were the best,” Noel said. “So Trump had an impact, even if he’s not the nominee.”
This failure to cohere has created an opening for an unconventional candidate like Trump or Cruz to potentially break out of the usual “party decides” model.
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