The results of the 57 previous presidential elections have demonstrated the resilience and adaptability of the American political system. Over time, the process has given one major political party an edge over the other, but never a permanent advantage to either. But over the last 20 years, the changing face of the electorate has given Democrats an ever-widening structural advantage in presidential politics. Republicans’ short-term 2014 electoral strategy, as well as their 2016 presidential primary process, will only exacerbate this gap.
Following the 2012 elections, the Republican National Committee (RNC) issued its “Growth & Opportunity Project” report, a comprehensive post-mortem analysis of the election that included interviews with more than 2,600 party leaders and online surveys of 36,000 activists. The final report was a 112-page indictment on the party’s failures to adapt to the changing world—especially when it comes to broadening its base of support among women, minorities and young people.
“The minority groups that President Obama carried with 80% of the vote in 2012 are on track to become the majority of the nation’s population by 2050,” the report noted. “The nation’s demographic changes add to the urgency of recognizing how precarious our position has become. … unless Republicans are able to grow our appeal the way GOP governors have done, the changes tilt the playing field even more in the Democratic direction.”
If anything, the RNC understated the urgency.