The election of Ted Cruz to the Senate Seat vacated by retiring Senator Kay Hutchison of Texas was no surprise, as he carried a 15-point margin over his Democratic challenger, Paul Sadler. But in the wake of his election, he brings bad tidings for the Republican Party, which has counted on Texas for many years to be the lynchpin of their electoral map.
The New Yorker sat down with a number of people to discuss the changing demographics of the United States, including Senator-elect Cruz, who had this to say:
“If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community, in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state.”
With the support for Republican presidential candidates slipping from 44% in 2004 to under 30% in this election, Cruz is on target, especially with the rapidly growing Hispanic population of Texas, now 38%. When combined with other minorities (12% African-American, 1% Native American, 4% Asian American, 2% mixed), that makes Texas a majority-minority state, with the traditional Republican base since Nixon, white voters at the exclusion of all others, at only 45% in 2010, according to the latest US Census. At the current pace of growth, Hispanics will outnumber white voters by 2020. And this bodes poorly for the future of the Republican party, as Cruz continues:
“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat. If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’”
While some might scoff, pointing to the current dominance of the GOP in state politics, Cruz has every right to worry. In 2000, Texas went overwhelmingly for the GOP, with Bush carrying 59% of the vote. In 2004, he carried it with 61% of the vote. In 2008, John McCain carried it with 55% of the vote. The final results of the 2012 election are not yet posted, and while preliminary reports show Romney winning with 57% of the vote, according to the Texas Secretary of State website, the final tally is not yet released, and provisional counting, as well as absentee voting, was not concluded until yesterday and the results not yet submitted to the Secretary of State website. With counties reporting thousands of provisional as well as absentee, the final numbers will shift. Unless Romney has carried all of these, highly unlikely, the problems for the future are growing.
While Cruz has won his office handily, the son of the Cuban-American refugee who was once part of the Castro revolution finds himself in an awkward position. The groups which helped catapult him into office are the same groups that the national party have snubbed, ignored, or attacked. By 2018, when he is up for re-election, if the GOP have not changed their tune, he will likely find himself running a very competitive race.
Senator-elect Cruz is well aware of the demographic shift. He is also aware of how to address it, delivering a message which can resonate with the Hispanic community. He would be a wise person for the GOP leadership to listen to. However, with the leaders now talking about eliminating the Tea Party influence, and with Cruz a solid Tea-Party supported candidate, his cries appear to be falling on deaf ears. Instead of addressing the problems of their message, the leadership is instead seeking scapegoats.
Senator-elect Cruz is quite correct in his assessment of the party. His party is in trouble; he knows it. Anyone with half of a brain knows it. They are failing the Hispanic vote, the youth vote (1 in 5 voters this past election were under 30, a larger pool than the over-65 the GOP has relied on), the Asian-American vote, the African-American vote, and the women vote. The Grand Old Party is effectively falling apart and attacking anyone who seeks to fix it. If Senator-elect Cruz pushes his party, it is highly likely that he will wind up on the blame list; isolated, ignored, or pushed out.
The problem with fanatics is that they make a decision before the evidence is in, then ignore it. Once the GOP began courting the Dixiecrats such as Strom Thurmond, the writing was on the wall. They became the “white man’s segregationist party,” poisoned by the snake they took to their bosom. The Nixon “southern strategy” hit its peak in the 1990’s, and is now looking to doom the party. By definition, Conservatism cannot embrace new ideas, and the exclusion of the Liberal and Moderate wing of the Republican party means that it is now trapped by Conservatism’s limitations, and can no longer adapt to an ever changing world. Senator-elect Cruz, you have your work cut out for you.