Video: Was last night’s big winner Marco Rubio?

posted at 11:21 am on November 7, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The appalling exit polls from yesterday’s loss shows a huge problem for Republicans in the shifting demographics of the nation.  Mitt Romney won 58% of the white vote, but didn’t even hit 30% among any of the non-white demographics in the electorate, which comprised 28% of the overall vote.  Barack Obama won 69% of the Latino vote, which will only grow from its present 10% in coming years.  Mike Huckabee blasted the GOP’s efforts at outreach on Fox News last night:

“What do you make of the racial divide we are seeing in vote totals,” Megyn Kelly asked.

“I don’t see it as all that shocking. I mean, typically, people of color tend to vote Democratic anyway,” Huckabee began.

“I think Republicans have done a pathetic job of reaching out to people of color – something we have to work on,” Huckabee continued. “Republicans have acted like they can’t get the vote, so they don’t try. And the result is that they don’t get the vote.”

George Will has a recipe for that problem — more Marco Rubio:

Following ABC’s declaration of President Barack Obama’s re-election, Will explained that the GOP will look to Rubio to lead the party and expand its demographic appeal.

Obama “did close with a kick and both sides fought a gallant fight,” Will said. “Mitt Romney had a problem — I think Nicole [Wallace], you were talking about. During the Republican nominating process, the party turned first to one person and then to another to try and avoid what turned out to be inevitable.”

“If there’s a winner tonight, it’s the senator from Florida, Marco Rubio. Because all eyes are now going to be turned to him as a man who might have a way to broaden the demographic appeal of this party.”

Earlier this morning, I wrote that the GOP needs to find new leadership, new voices, and most importantly new approaches to conservatism that will allow a broader range of voters to relate to its core values.  Of all the players we have on the bench, Rubio is clearly the best we have for that role.  We discussed this last night on the Hugh Hewitt Show when Dennis Prager joined us by phone just as Ohio got called for Obama.  Prager insisted that the Republican Party’s next leader needs to be Rubio, who represents and explains the core values of conservatism better than any other Republican at the national level, and who understands how to relate it to a broader range of voters.

Unfortunately, it was too early in Rubio’s national career to move forward in 2012.  By 2016, he will have one term in the Senate, with a background as House Speaker in the Florida legisature.  Will that be enough for credibility as a national candidate?  Actually, I’m less concerned with 2016 as I am with the four years in between.  We just can’t wait for the next presidential election to start rebuilding the direction of conservatism.

We need to offer a new approach to policy that remains in line with our core values, too.  Matt Lewis argues today that Republicans have to start by choosing new leadership, but also choosing new “followship” as well by putting a substantial change in approach on the table:

As I’ve written before, Republicans must find a way to appeal to cosmopolitan conservatives. A modern political party cannot exist if it concedes the young, the urban, and the educated.

Some of this can be fixed through style and aesthetics. Football teams get new uniforms. Political parties can likewise benefit from repackaging. But there should clearly be some actual soul searching as well.

For years, I’ve been advocating finding ways to attract more Hispanic voters. There are many reasons why conservatives should do this — reasons that transcend the now-obvious political reasons.

There will be a push to nominate a candidate who, at least, symbolically “fixes” this problem. Marco Rubio would be an obvious selection. But making the substantive changes won’t just require leadership, it will also require followship.

After two successive and significant national-election losses, it’s quite obvious that what Republicans and conservatives have done hasn’t worked.  I’m reminded at this juncture of Jack Kemp, who should have had a brighter future, and who worked diligently to make conservatism relevant not just to affluent suburbanites but also to struggling urban voters.  Rubio has that quality as well, but as Matt writes, it won’t work unless we start offering creative solutions along with better salesmanship.

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