Overshadowed amid Sarah Palin’s unique interpretation of Dr. Seuss, Wayne LaPierre’s overheated vision of America’s apocalyptic decline, and all of the other craziness at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican pollster Whit Ayres gave a fact-based presentation to the gathering of right-wing activists. What he said should terrify the GOP.
Ayres, whose firm counts the RNC, NRSC, NRCC, and several influential Republican politicians among its clients, appeared on a panel on Saturday to discuss electoral trends and the future of the GOP.
The slides from Ayres’ presentation, which are available on his firm’s website, reiterate something that many Republicans have long warned: America’s changing demographics leave the increasingly white GOP at risk of entering what Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) memorably described as a “demographic death spiral.”
In short, as the Republican pollster explained, the white proportion of the American electorate is declining at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, Republicans are performing much worse among non-white voter groups. If the party doesn’t change something — Ayres suggests immigration reform as a good place to start — it will cease to be viable in national elections.
One particular point in the presentation stood out, however. Turning to the midterm elections, Ayres declared to hearty applause that “we’ve got some good news: We’re going to have a great 2014. We’re going to hold the House, we’re going to pick up the Senate, it’s going to be a great 2014.”
“One of the reasons why,” he explained, “is that the percentage of whites in the electorate is about five points higher in the off-year elections.”
Perhaps Ayres — who, like most pollsters, does not have a spotless record when it comes to predicting elections — should remember what he said in 2012 before asserting that the whiteness of the midterm electorate will bring his party certain success in 2014. Back then, he explained his party’s failure to elect Mitt Romney as president by noting that “it is a mistake to place rosy assumptions on a likely electorate that are at variance — and substantial variance — with recent history.”
Democrats immediately called foul on the crowd’s warm reception to Ayres’ assertion.
“It says a lot that top Republicans believe that lower minority participation in the electoral process is something to celebrate. They know that when the electorate represents more Americans and more voices, they lose,” DNC Director of Voter Expansion Pratt Wiley said in a statement.
In fairness to Ayres, he made it perfectly clear that Republicans need to diversify their party, instead of relying on shrinking the electorate.