GOP doesn't need to radically change its core message

David Blahnik /


Published Jul 11, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

The new immigration bill is coming up for a vote. TV talking heads and politicians of both parties are adamant that the GOP must change its message toward Latinos in general and immigration in particular. If not, they are in danger of losing every presidential election forever. This assertion is FALSE! When the Democrats lost their shirts in the 2010 midterm elections, the most significant party loss in more than 40 years, no one said Democrats had to make dramatic changes to their core beliefs.

It is quite obvious what the Democrats and the Obama administration did instead. Through the IRS, it very cleverly undermined the ability of conservative-leaning, political groups from obtaining tax-exempt status. Those tactics effectively muffled voices opposed to the Obama administration’s policies. It was wrong when Nixon made enemy lists and sent the IRS after them and it is wrong when the IRS did it in support of Obama. The very fact that such a powerful government entity would target one political group over the other is shameful. The damage is done and cannot retroactively be repaired.

What empirical evidence exists to say that if the GOP becomes more lenient and pliable toward immigration that Latinos as a political bloc will tend to vote for them? None! Since 1980, Latinos have never voted for Republicans in presidential elections in numbers greater than 40 percent. Bob Dole, in 1996, received the lowest Latino support with 21 percent, and George Bush received the highest support with 40 percent. In 1986, President Reagan passed a bipartisan immigration bill that effectively provided amnesty for about 3 million illegal immigrants. He received 37 percent of the Latino vote and earned a landslide victory. Two short years later, Bush 41 became president with 30 percent of the Latino vote. This is a clear indication that granting amnesty and relaxing immigration rules will not make the GOP more likable to the Latino population in general.

My view is that since Obama won a second term, the general electorate believes he won by such a big margin that he can do anything he wants and the GOP must accept. That is just nonsense. A closer look at the 2012 presidential election results tells a different story. The election was closer than it appears. President Obama won 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206. That is only a swing of 63 electoral votes. Look closer at the numbers and you discover that just five states — Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire, with 66 electoral votes — favored Obama by just over a half-million votes. A very small change in votes and Romney is president. In my view that is not sufficient cause for President Obama to feel he can run roughshod over his political competition. In fact, almost 61 million voters said no to him.

These facts suggest that the GOP does not need radical surgery to its core message. Once the GOP starts giving favors or concessions, it loses its soul. What the GOP needs to do instead is craft a nationwide campaign to take over the Senate from a very vulnerable Democratic party. In 2014, the Democrats must defend 19 Senate seats, including five open seats; Republicans must defend 12 seats, with two open seats. The GOP needs only a net gain of seven seats to take back the Senate as two independents caucus with the Democrats. That should end the nonsense we have experienced since 2008.