GOP Turns Attention to Latino, Millennial Voters

Since our inception, NDN has been making the case that Latino and Millennial votes are critical and often deciding factors in down-ballot races across the country.  More recently, Simon has argued both that the GOP faces a long road back to a place of prominence and power - one that will necessitate reaching out to these important constituencies, and that Democrats cannot take the New Democratic Coalition, specifically Latinos and Millennials, for granted. 

Both narratives seem to be surfacing widely in the last two weeks.  The GOP knows they have a demographic challenge.  Now the question is: what will they do about it?   

Peter Slevin at The Washington Post takes a look at Republican's necessary strategic shift: focusing on Latinos, examining what Bush did right, and taking stock of where things are going and have gone wrong.  Embedded in the piece is this gem:

"The numbers don't lie," said Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant. "If Republicans don't do better among Hispanics, we're not going to be talking about how to get Florida back in the Republican column, we're going to be talking about how not to lose Texas."


Peter Wallsten over at The Wall Street Journal has a piece that echoes many of the same sentiments but takes the strategic overview and breaks it down into the GOP's current tactics: toning down anti-immigrant rhetoric, and courting Latino GOP candidates. From Wallsten's piece:

[M]any in the party have concluded that opposition to immigration legislation, a debate that is sometimes racially charged, has alienated millions of otherwise conservative Hispanic voters...

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who is coordinating some of the party's internal discussions, called the tandem effect of rising Hispanic population and dwindling Republican support an "untenable delta."

Then for the generational question, Kristen Soltis at Daily Caller and E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post tackle the latest Pew Research numbers on Millennial voters.

Soltis argues that the numbers show promise for the GOP, but only if the GOP is ready to invest in young voters.  From The Daily Caller:

[A] major study released by the Pew Research Center this week tells a story a year later that will have Republicans breathing a sigh of relief, thankful that young voters have “snapped out of it.” These voters, the Pew report says, are less enthused than in 2008 and have seen a major decline in job approval for President Obama. There are surely some old-school campaign veterans on the right declaring that they knew it all along: the Obama wave was a one-hit wonder.

But don’t break out the champagne just yet.

What Republicans should take from the change in political attitudes among young voters isn’t a sign of victory but rather one of opportunity, a precious second chance to bring young voters into the fold. Young voters once smitten with Obama and his party are now up for grabs, but it will take real effort to change some critical beliefs that can convert Generation O into Generation GOP.

And Dionne issues a similar wake-up call to Democrats

Democrats face disaster this fall and real problems in 2012 if the Millennials become disaffected from politics and if the Republicans continue to erode the Democrats' generational edge.

And what will Democrats do about it? Politicians have a bad habit in midterm elections: They concentrate on older folks, assuming younger voters will stay home on Election Day. This may be rational most of the time, but it is a foolish bet for Democrats and liberals this year. The young helped them rise to power and can just as easily usher them to early retirements. Obama cannot afford to break their hearts.

Part of what we can watch for in the coming months is how both parties engage these important segments of the electorate. This year's outreach efforts will let us know whether Republicans are willing to take the first steps down that long road back, and if Democrats know that they cannot take for granted members of the very coalition that put them back in power.