In debates over rebuilding the GOP, prominent voices in talk radio and elsewhere dismiss efforts to seek support among non-white voters. “We won great victories in the past without ever getting a majority of Hispanics,” they say. This ignores demographic reality: for their triumphs in 1984 and 1988, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush faced an electorate with less than 15% non-white voters; in 2012, non-whites comprised 28% and that number will inevitably rise.
Moreover, Republicans don’t need majorities among non-whites but they do need to compete more effectively. In 2004, Bush got 44 percent of both Hispanics and Asians voters, but Romney got less than 27 percent eight years later. Romney actually did better than Bush in winning white voters by 20 points, but it’s no longer possible to build a successful nationwide coalition without competing in non-white communities.