This past Sunday, former secretary of state Colin Powell warned fellow Republicans that their most recent efforts to restrict voting rights will “backfire” on the party.
After blasting North Carolina’s newest voting law at a CEO forum on Thursday, Colin appeared on Face the Nation to explain how the voting restrictions being pushed by several states – including Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia and Mississippi – will hurt, not help, the GOP.
“The country is becoming more diverse,” Powell explained. “Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans are going to constitute a majority in a generation. You say you want to reach out, you say you want to have a new message, you say you want to see if you can bring some of these voters to the Republican side. This is not the way to do it.”
The former secretary of state, who served under former president George W. Bush, makes a great, but not-so-new point; Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential election served (or should have served) as a wakeup call for the Republican Party. The nation’s demographics have changed, and minority voters – including the youth – now represent a large percentage of the voting population.
As former Bush campaign advisor Mark McKinnon said just days before the election, “The GOP cannot expect to win the presidency in the future by simply relying on running up big numbers with white voters.”
That message was lost on Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, however.
In 2010 and 2011, Republican lawmakers in several states began drafting new election laws in hopes of making it more difficult for Democrats to vote.
According to a Washington Post article published a year before the 2012 election, Republicans in several states had “curbed early voting, rolled back voting rights for ex-felons, and passed stricter voter ID laws.” The theory was that the carefully designed measures would “keep young people and minorities away from the polls” — groups that tend to vote Democratic.
Just a few months before the election, federal courts ruled that a Texas voter ID law, pushed by Republicans, “disenfranchised Latino and black voters.”
Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson warned Texas Republicans that the “demographic shift is already here.”
He added that the laws would not stop disenfranchised groups from showing up to the polls, but they will give the voters the “impression that the GOP is working against their interests,” and this would eventually become a “long-term problem” for the Republican Party.