After a resounding Electoral College loss in the 2012 presidential election, many have offered reasons and advice for Republicans hoping to turn it around in 2016. There’s been no shortage of blame heaped on Mitt Romney for a personality and message that never came into focus, except when the candidate was caught on tape complaining about the 47 percent of non-Romney voters or suggesting that Obama voters were bought with gifts of government services.
But the loudest chorus has been repeating the chant “demography is destiny,” noting the failure of the GOP to woo and win African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and the young, especially young female voters. On his Fox News Channel show, commentator Bill O’Reilly had a suggestion he said might have turned the election around: Cuban-American Florida Sen. Marco Rubio instead of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan in the vice-presidential slot.
Casting a clear eye on America in the future and the Democratic ticket that prevailed in the past two elections, will either party – particularly Republicans trying to reach out – ever again field a ticket that looks like Romney/Ryan and most every other in the history of the United States? Will there be particular pressure on the GOP to place a minority on the ticket as a way to find a winning electoral formula? Now that the Democrats have fielded a successful ticket led by an African-American candidate – twice — will Republicans in 2016 have something to prove to an increasingly diverse electorate?
Mickey Edwards, former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, said more diversity on the parties’ presidential ticket is eventually inevitable, though, “I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the all-white male ticket, even on the Democratic side,” he said.
“I don’t think we’re going to get into political correctness, where there must be a woman or there must be an African-American or there must be a Hispanic,” he said. “But I think [a white male ticket is] going to happen much less frequently because you have a ticket that is representative of the country, and the country is becoming a country in which white males are not a majority.”
He pointed out the record number of women, more than 100, in the just-elected Congress.
“If you just pick who are the rising political stars, that’s going to include a mix of people other than white males, so I don’t know if this is the last all-white male ticket. But I would say it’s going to be much more common in the future to have tickets that have women, that have African-Americans, that have Hispanics because that’s what America is going to be like — and it should be like,” Edwards said.
Scott Huffmon, professor of political science at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., said that “‘symbolic representation’ within the party — candidates who ‘look like’ the group — is always the first thing tried.”
“I’ve seen the Democratic Party really struggle through its evolution, and how it has changed to reflect the diversity; we still have a long way to go,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Calif. “We can see especially through the election and re-election of President Obama that Democrats and independents are really beginning to see this is a strength we need to acknowledge and celebrate and see as a way forward.”