By Robert Mann
If devious Democratic operatives had conspired last year to sabotage the Republican Party by poisoning its already troubled relationship with young voters and Latinos and other minorities, they could not have devised anything nearly so effective as what the GOP came up with on its own.
Trick Republicans into nominating Donald Trump for president? Preposterous!
Who could have foreseen that Republicans would embrace someone whose demeanor and positions are perfectly designed to destroy the party’s already uneasy relationship with a generation of young voters, most of whom are comfortable with their country’s growing diversity and social liberalism? Who might have predicted the GOP nominee would be a clownish, serially bankrupt real estate developer who branded Mexican immigrants “rapists” and demands a ban on Muslim immigration?
In a flurry of recent polls, the looming disaster is evident. A Fox News poll showed Trump with only 38 percent among those under 30. A McClatchy/Marist survey of the same group showed Trump with 17 percent.
Among younger voters ages 18 to 24, Trump earns 15 percent, according to a pollby Investors Business Daily/TPP. Worse for Trump, when the poll included the nominees of the Libertarian and Green parties, the GOP nominee finished in fourth place among young voters, with 12 percent (the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, beat even Hillary Clinton within this group).
The numbers are more troubling for Trump among blacks and Latinos. In the Fox News poll, the GOP nominee wins the support of 4 percent of black voters. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Trump with 18 percent of non-white voters, virtually the same as in the Investors Business Daily survey. The McClatchy/Marist poll showed that 26 percent of Latinos back Trump.
A party whose policies provoke the enduring estrangement of these groups – and we haven’t mentioned the GOP’s serious troubles with female voters – will not soon win a presidential election. A party that relies disproportionality on older white men is in a demographic death grip.
To survive, it must reinvent itself. I do not mean Republicans should refine their messages or nominate candidates with sunnier dispositions than Trump. The GOP must, instead, evolve and work hard to reestablish its relevance with people whose votes are already decisive in our elections. If not, this ailing party will expire.
To say the GOP is ailing doesn’t do justice to its wretched condition. It’s not that the GOP is suffering from a deadly disease that is easily cured with a Trumpectomy. Rather, for years the party has seemed increasingly determined to commit political suicide.
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