The GOP’s demographic challenge

Republicans nationally have been licking their chops over the prospects of midterm election gains, with doubts about the Affordable Care Act the lead card the GOP will play in many races. But however bright the short-term outlook for the party might be, without a major reworking of Republican positions and platform planks the long-term picture may be considerably more ominous.

The problem is one of demography. Today’s Republican Party does miserably among minority voters, and those groups, especially Hispanics, are accounting for an increasingly larger share of the US population. The demographic shift was highlighted last week in a report released by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. As of July of 2012, the study reported, minorities accounted for 47 percent of the 82.5 million people in the country under 20 years of age. In 1990, that figure was just 32 percent. By 2043, the US Census Bureau projects, non-Hispanic whites will no longer represent a majority of the US population.

Low minority support for Republicans has already been a drag on their national candidates. That will only become magnified if current trends continue.

  

“The math isn’t complicated,” writes the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza. “Winning 27 percent of the Hispanic vote and 6 percent of the African American vote – as [Mitt] Romney did in 2012 – makes it hard to win a majority of the overall vote when those groups represent 10 percent and 13 percent of the electorate, respectively. If Hispanics increase to 20 percent of the electorate by 2024 or 2028, and the Republican presidential nominee’s performance is roughly equivalent to Romney’s 2012 showing, it will be impossible – or close to impossible – for that GOP nominee to win a national majority.”

Cillizza notes that it’s not just the overall demographic changes that look problematic for Republicans, but also where minority population growth is occurring. Huge increases in minority population in the South and Southwest mean states that have been among the most reliably Republican in presidential races, including Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina, could be very vulnerable to flipping to the Democratic column. In Massachusetts, according to pollster Steve Koczela, Boston is where the demographic divide for the GOP is the biggest.

There are, of course, all sorts of ways political leanings could become realigned over the next couple of decades, so demography is not iron-clad destiny when it comes to projecting the impact of these population changes.

Immigration reform looms at the top of the list of issues that Republicans must grapple with if they are to have any hope of making inroads with Hispanic voters. The GOP leadership gets it, but seems to have no clue that it’s up to them to bring their recalcitrant underlings along.

House Speaker John Boehner lit into fellow Republicans last week in a speech in his Ohio district, saying many members of his caucus are whiny wimps when it comes to taking a tough vote to reform immigration laws.

“Here’s the attitude,” he told a local Rotary club gathering. “‘Ohhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhh. This is too hard.’ We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to… They’ll take the path of least resistance.”

That path may be easier in the short-run, but down the road it will make for perilous traveling.

–MICHAEL JONAS   

BEACON HILL

The Gateway Cities portion of Gov. Deval Patrick’s economic development proposal comes under fire for minimal funding, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Former Sen. Mo Cowan finds himself in a conflict-riddled situation running a powerful lobbying firm and a state task force charged with investing in the state’s military bases.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

To deal with a $200,000 funding shortfall in fire services, Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera is regularly taking a fire truck out of service for anywhere from a few hours to a day, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch has asked the police department to investigate how dozens of records of city military veterans containing private information were taken from the veterans’ services office and found strewn across a public park.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Gay rights activists strike out into more conservative territory.

ELECTIONS

The Sunday Globe reports on gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman‘s insider strategy of racking up endorsements from elected officials from selectmen to state senators. CommonWealth reported on this in its current issue, as Grossman calls three state reps in rapid succession during a car ride to a Democratic caucus to thank them for their help. John Nucci argues gubernatorial voters should be looking for a manager, not a visionary.

Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown, likely to be going head-to-head in November for the New Hampshire Senate seat now held by Shaheen, had a decidedly cool relationship during the three years they served together in the Senate representing adjacent New England states, the Globe reports.

Mitt Romney may try for the White House again…if Jeb Bush doesn’t run.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

WBUR analyzes what the research indicates about the impact of raising the minimum wage.

With cases like the looming Supreme Court ruling involving Aereo, a company that streams broadcast television online without paying for it, upheaval is the new normal in the TV and video-streaming world, writes the Globe‘s Hiawatha Bray.

Racist comments by Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, roil the sports world. President Obama, LeBron James, and many others condemn his remarks, but the team plays on — and loses.

Three suits by NFL cheerleaders in California, Ohio, and New York over wage and working violations could be the cause of bigger headaches for the professional football league owners.

EDUCATION

CommonWealth reports that state education officials are drawing fire over changes in a formula that are shifting several low-performing urban districts out of the group of communities where more charter schools were authorized by a 2010 education law.  Brockton, Haverhill, Somerville, and Worcester are some of the communities affected.

Minority students make up just 13 percent of the enrollment in teacher preparation programs in Massachusetts, the main pipeline for new teachers, the Globe reports. A new state initiative plans to try to boost that figure.

Suffolk University will have all faculty, including tenured professors, undergo performance reviews, which could lead to dismissal. Faculty are not happy.

Fall River school officials are instituting a program to reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions from more than 14 percent to near the state average of about 6 percent. Fall River was the target of a suit over suspension because minorities were disproportionately affected.

HEALTH CARE

A program to combat child obesity by a professor at Merrimack College and several YMCA branches gets private funding to expand nationally, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Berkshire health officials are taking additional steps to regulate e-cigarettes.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A squirrel who came in contact with a power substation in Quincy — make that a late squirrel — triggered an outage for 3,700 homes as well as the Quincy Center T station, which was forced to leave the fare gates open and bring in generators for lights..

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Investigators are trying to determine who was the target of a pipe bomb left in the Brant Rock section of Marshfield yesterday that had to be detonated.

MEDIA

A documentary on Barney Frank produced by Alec Baldwin premiers at the TriBeCa Film Festival, NECN reports.