In debates over rebuilding the GOP, prominent voices in talk radio and elsewhere dismiss efforts to seek support among non-white voters. “We won great victories in the past without ever getting a majority of Hispanics,” they say. This ignores demographic reality: for their triumphs in 1984 and 1988, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush faced an electorate with less than 15% non-white voters; in 2012, non-whites comprised 28% and that number will inevitably rise.
Moreover, Republicans don’t need majorities among non-whites but they do need to compete more effectively. In 2004, Bush got 44% of both Hispanics and Asians voters, but Romney got less than 27% eight years later. Romney actually did better than Bush in winning white voters by 20 points, but it’s no longer possible to build a successful nationwide coalition without competing in non-white communities.