Finally, another false narrative suggests that the real story of Republican catastrophe in 2012 amounted to a wholesale rejection by younger voters who hated the party and its candidate because of antediluvian positions on social issues.
Oh, really? Then how could one explain that GOP support among 18-29 year old voters actually went up sharply from 2008—from 32% to 37%?
Even more startling, young people who happened to be white still comprised a big majority (61%) of all voters below the age of 30 and delivered a shocking, counter-intuitive verdict on the choice between the ineffably cool Barack and the hopelessly square Mitt: going for the Mormon grandfather of 18 by a decisive, near-landslide margin of 7 points. In fact, the entire basis for Barack Obama's strength among young voters in general stemmed from the disproportionate presence among them of blacks, Latinos and Asians—groups that tilted lopsidedly toward Obama. Non-whites comprised 39% of the youth vote but only 28% of the overall electorate, so it's hardly surprising that Romney would score a smaller overall percentage of these ballots from under-30 citizens. Romney's loss of young voters, in other words, reflects racial politics far more plausibly than any universal surge of youthful progressivism.
Going forward, the GOP clearly faces a crucial challenge in broadening support in communities of color, since white voters will never again comprise 72% (or more) of the overall electorate, and no candidate can possibly expect to do better among whites than did Romney (winning this component of the population by a crushing margin of 60-40%). Republicans don't need to win majorities among blacks, Latinos or Asians but they do need to compete: if Romney had fared only as well among these minority groups as did Bush in '04 (with 11% of blacks, and 44% of both Asians and Latinos) he would have won decisively—even with a far less white electorate.
The GOP faces formidable challenges in rebuilding after the crushing disappointment of November, but misinformation and distortion will only hinder that process. The problem for Romney and Ryan wasn't missing Republicans or disengaged conservatives or alienated Evangelicals. It was the appalling performance of the party and its ticket with all those voters, young and old, who identified with the nation's non-white minority. If Republicans ever hope to learn how to win again it's essential to be honest about how we lost—again.
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