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Hispanic vote won't be enough
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After six months of mulling over November's election results, many Republicans remain convinced the party's only path to future victory is to improve the GOP's appeal to Hispanic voters. But how many Hispanic voters do Republicans need to attract before the party can again win the White House?
A lot. Start with the 2012 exit polls. The New York Times' Nate Silver has created an interactive tool in which one can look at the presidential election results and calculate what would have happened if the racial and ethnic mix of voters had been different.
In 2012, President Obama famously won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote to Mitt Romney's 27 percent. If all other factors remained the same, how large a percentage of the Hispanic vote would Romney have had to win to capture the White House?
What if Romney had won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, the high-water mark for Republicans achieved by George W. Bush in 2004? If Romney had hit that Bush mark, he still would have lost, with 240 electoral votes to 298 for Obama
But what if Romney had been able to do something absolutely astonishing for a Republican and win 60 percent of the Hispanic vote? He would have lost by the same margin, 283 electoral votes to 255.
But what if Romney had been able to reach a mind-blowing 70 percent of the Hispanic vote? Surely that would have meant victory, right? No, it wouldn't. Romney still would have lost, although by the narrowest of electoral margins, 270 to 268.
According to the Times' calculator, Romney would have had to win 73 percent of the Hispanic vote to prevail in 2012. Which suggests that Romney, and Republicans, had bigger problems than Hispanic voters.
The most serious of those problems was Romney was not able to connect with white voters who were so turned off by the campaign they abandoned the GOP and in many cases stayed away from the polls altogether. Recent reports suggest as many as 5 million white voters simply stayed home on Election Day.
The white vote is so large that an improvement of 4 points -- going from 60 percent to 64 percent of those whites who did vote -- would have won the race for Romney.
So which would have been a more realistic goal for Romney -- matching the white turnout from just a few years earlier, or winning 73 percent of Hispanic voters?
Romney lost because he did not appeal to the millions of Americans who have seen their standard of living decline over the past decades. They're nervous about the future. When Romney did not address their concerns, they either voted for Obama or didn't vote at all.
If the next Republican candidate can address their concerns effectively, he will win.
Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.