Nov 092010
Authors: Ian Bezek

For Coloradans, the most surprising outcome of last week’s election was the narrow defeat of Republican Ken Buck at the hands of Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet for election to the U.S. Senate.

Most national forecasters predicted that Buck would win, and polling had shown that he had a small but consistent advantage.
But when the votes were counted, the embattled Sen. Bennet secured the narrow victory. Why were the pundits wrong in forecasting Buck’s seemingly inevitable victory?

For the second election cycle in a row, the force of Latino voters was downplayed by the media.

While predictions of doom after Obama’s election for the Republicans proved excessive in the short-run, the long-term demographic trend continues to point toward irrelevancy for Republicans.

This is because the Republicans have been unable to win over any significant minority voting block, as Asians, African-Americans and Latinos have all tended to be loyal voters for Democrats.

Currently, Republicans are only able to win the majority of votes from Caucasians, men and Protestant Christians.

The proportion of both Caucasians and Protestant Christians are in steady decline in the United States, and since this is the base of the Republican power –– the party, too, will continue to decline over time.

We saw a stark example of the Republicans’ inability to garner minority votes in this past week’s election, where the Republican wave crashed strongly over the Midwest and South but utterly failed to crest west of the Rockies.

Republicans failed to win high-profile races for Senate and the governorship in California, and they suffered a stunning defeat in Nevada where widely despised Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., shocked the political world by winning another term over Tea Party favorite Sharon Angle, along with Buck’s surprising loss here in Colorado.

In states where Latinos make up a significant portion of the electorate, basically states across the southwest, Republicans underperformed expectations this election cycle.

With the Latino population in America growing by more than 3 percent each year, and the rest of the populace growing at less than 0.5 percent each year, the Latino population will continue to be the fastest-growing factor in American politics for decades to come.

And in 2106, if current trends continue, according to Univision news anchor Jorge Ramo’s book “Tierra de Todos,” the population of legal Latino citizens will surpass non-Latino whites to become the majority racial group in the United States.

With Latinos typically voting for Democrats 70 percent of the time, and African-Americans and Asians at similar or higher rates, it’s clear that the Republicans will be a marginal party. Being the party of white people won’t cut it any more.

Already, Latinos are a majority of the population in several states including New Mexico, California and Texas, and they are a significant enough voting block to deny Republican Senate candidates in Nevada and Colorado.

With the Republican obsession on sealing the border, kicking undocumented workers out and maintaining the hegemony of Anglo, Protestant Christian and English culture and traditions, their support will continue to fall with Latinos.

The unexpectedly large margin –– more than a dozen percent –– of rabid anti-immigrant activist Tom Tancredo’s defeat to Democrat Governor-elect John Hickenlooper showed that even in a banner year for Republicans, the anti-immigrant message just doesn’t sell outside the narrow hard-right Republican base.

If Republicans want to remain a relevant party in the future, they need to embrace the moderate wing of the party, and champion realists such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., rather than the Sharron Angle’s and Ken Buck’s of the party who have used fear and xenophobia to try to earn votes.

Even while Republicans have lost electoral share with Latinos, they’ve managed to get more Republican Latinos elected in 2010. These include Susana Martinez, who will be the first Latina governor in America, and Raul Labrador, who will be Idaho’s first Latino congressman.

Republicans need to nominate both more Latinos and moderates on illegal immigration, and less hardliners on immigration. A Republican party whose candidates consist of Ken Buck, Tom Tancredo and Sharron Angle-type people will continue to lose more and more frequently as the Latino population keeps rising. If an anti-immigrant message doesn’t win elections this year, it never will.

The United States is a democracy, and as such, Republicans can’t hope to keep winning elections in places such as Colorado while telling Latinos to get lost.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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