That was the message from a former top aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), reacting to his party’s poor performance among Hispanics, women and young voters Tuesday night. While all parties are forced to re-evaluate following a big loss, this time, pressure may finally force the GOP to avoid the allure of social issues that led them astray in 2008 and 2012.
Tuesday’s election marked a turnaround from 2004, when President George W. Bush successfully attached constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman to eleven state ballots in order to boost turnout.
This cycle, conservative candidates found themselves largely on the defensive when it came to such issues as same-sex marriage and women’s reproductive rights. Maine and Maryland both passed same-sex marriage by popular referendum Tuesday, becoming the seventh and eight states to allow it, while in Minnesota voters blocked a constitutional amendment seeking to ban it. Washington State also looked set to pass it into law, though official results are not yet finalized.
President Obama received a hefty 71% of the Latino vote — a 4 point increase from his 2008 total and a number so staggeringly imbalanced that several Republicans said the party could no longer ignore the demographic realities wreaking havoc on their future electoral prospects.
“What the party needs to do is take its head out of its you-know-what and understand exactly what is going on in this country,” former RNC Chairman Michael Steele said on Wednesday’s show, lamenting his party’s current lack of appeal to minorities.
However, not all members of the party see the need for a recalibration.
“No doubt the media will insist that Republicans must change, must sprint to the center, must embrace social liberalism …. All that is hogwash,” wrote The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes, insisting that ideology was not the problem. But the conversation has already started.
Even if the losing party is willing to do some soul-searching, it would, in all likelihood, misdiagnose the problem, Politico’s Roger Simon joked on Twitter. “It is traditional at this time for the defeated party to examine its defeat and come up with all the wrong reasons for it,” he wrote.