If you look at the exit polling from the election, of which there is plenty, there is only one demographic the Republican party won outright. Who is this key Republican base character? He is a straight, white man over the age of 45, usually earning more than $40,000 per year, often possessing a bachelors degree, and living in either a rural or suburban community. Any other demographic you could name, the Democrats won their support.
It can not be said the Republicans have not attempted outreach to other groups. They have a variety of candidates, show up at the NAACP, and they even made their convention into “night of a thousand token”. While the presentation of their message is clearly a problem, that is not the core issue, as everyone has always believed their politicians were lying, corrupt cynics. The reason their following is shrinking, is they are clinging to outdated philosophies.
I am reminded of my Uncle, a staunch 70 something liberal who grew up when McCarthy was purging the Jewish, Liberal, Pinko Commies out of Hollywood and Universites. We were talking politics one night and I happened to mention that one of his ideas reminded me of something in the Communist Manifesto. He was furious and offended. Merely bringing up the subject if communism caused him to stop seeing me as his nephew quoting philosophy, but rather brought him back to the battle lines of his youth. For me, it was confusing, because I did not invest such emotion in these key words of his generation, like communism.
For the Republicans who have long fought for the Pro-life, anti-socialist, anti-immigrant, low tax message, I suspect it is equally difficult to break with their paradigm just because the next generation has moved on. Which is the real problem for the Republican party. If the leadership changes their message, they risk losing these voters to some third party. If they don’t change their message, they risk no longer having voters in 40 years or so.
They could change their immigration policy, and temper their socialist jingoism without losing most of their base. But if they alter course on abortion, how can the religious right stay with them and maintain their expressed values? And if they change on their tax stance, who are they?
It is highly probable that there will no longer be a Republican Party ten years from now, unless they simply keep the same name on a completely new message.