The drumbeat refrain from Tea Party leaders and more than a few wishful thinking GOP strategists, governors and congressional leaders is that the roll-out woes of the Affordable Care Act is the party's passport to electoral victory in 2014 and 2016. Polls do show that a majority of Americans worry about the web site glitches, and either losing their current coverage or having to pay higher costs for coverage. The same polls, though, show that a majority of Americans don't want the law scrapped, and are more than willing to give it a chance to work.
But even if polls showed that a majority of Americans didn't want the law at all, this wouldn't change the racial demographic Armageddon that dooms the GOP in national elections. For decades, the GOP has banked on older whites voting in far bigger numbers than younger blacks and Hispanics to bag the White House and for long stretches win and retain majority control of Congress. No more. According to the Census Bureau, more blacks than whites voted in the 2012 election. More Asians and Hispanics also voted.
This is not a racial fluke spurred by a mad dash to elect and reelect an African-American president. It is part of a steady trend over the last five presidential elections. The number of minority voters has steadily risen. The overwhelming majority of them voted for Obama twice. Even if Obama had not been the candidate and incumbent, the crushingly high percentage of the minority vote would still have gone to a Democratic presidential contender, any Democrat, over any Republican contender.
At the same time that minority voter participation has steadily surged, the number of white voters has steadily dropped. The Census put the drop-off at 2 million between 2008 and 2012. In the 1996 election whites made up more than 82 percent of the voting numbers. In 2012, they were 71 percent of the overall total. The one voter demographic that should be especially worrisome for the GOP is the big statistically-significant gain in voting rates among older black voters aged 45 and above.
However, it's the sheer numbers in the coming years that work hard against the GOP. In less than a decade the electorate will be nearly 40 percent non-white. It gets worse each decade after for the GOP. Whites will be a minority of the nation's voters by 2060 if not sooner.
This gloomy reality has raised alarm bells in the GOP. Earlier in the year, the Republican National Committee made a feeble, half-hearted effort to "broaden out" its minority voter reach with a long winded document calling for some changes on things such as its fossilized opposition to immigration reform to propping up more minority candidates. The RNC even hired someone with the title of a black communications director for black media.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has gone one better and made a few well-publicized appearances in Detroit, at Howard University, and a black church to "dialogue" with black voters. The Michigan GOP was apparently impressed enough to tap Paul to open what it calls an African-American Engagement Office in Detroit. Paul and the RNC know full well that there is absolutely no chance of weaning any appreciable number of black voters from the Democrats. But that's not really their aim. It's simply to do something, anything, no matter how vapid, to change the belief among most blacks that the GOP is a party of kooks, cranks and unreconstructed bigots.
There is even more electoral peril for the GOP. Older black voters have a stellar record in voting consistency and they will vote for a Democratic candidate. Two states, Wisconsin and Mississippi were among the five states with the highest voter participation rates in 2012. One is a swing state. One, Mississippi, is a dyed in the wool Red State. Black voters could swing Wisconsin back into the Democratic column, and in Mississippi they make up the highest percentage of African-Americans in any state. They could eventually swing Mississippi into the Blue State column.
The easing or outright repeal of felon voting bans that disproportionately affect minorities, blacks especially, the GOP's voter suppression ploys that have been glaring failures, and more aggressive and targeted voter education and mobilization drives by the Democrats and minority voter education groups will add more non-white voters to the rolls. The one recourse the GOP has to try and hold back the electoral sea change is to make a full throated defense of entitlement programs, bigger government spending, abortion, gay rights, immigration reform and renounce racial pandering. But this would be tantamount to political suicide; the GOP wouldn't be the GOP. It would be a fractured party with its powerhouse wing of ultra conservatives, Tea Party acolytes, and evangelicals, and closet bigots permanently alienated and permanently gone. This wouldn't stave off its coming racial demographic Armageddon, just hasten it.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson