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Diversity played critical role in Republican loss

Thursday - 11/8/2012, 5:46am  ET

AP: 585591a0-e1ab-4090-9954-99ddf0b647a3
Frank Nieves, of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a supporter of President Barack Obama applauds as he watches a televised debate between Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and President Barack Obama, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in Miramar, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

What Republicans need to do to succeed

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics

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Exit polls: The reality of diversity

Jim VandeHei, executive editor for POLITICO

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Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The day after a divisive election landed in the lap of Democrats, analysts looking for an answer to explain the Republican loss have found it -- diversity.

The returns show the conservative party had a clear disconnect with minority voters. Jim VandeHei, executive editor for POLITICO, calls it a huge problem.

"Barack Obama won Hispanics by 40 points. He won Asians by 50 points. He won African Americans by 87 percentage points. There is just no math formula in politics today that gets Republicans into the presidency of future elections until they figure out a way to reconnect with minority groups," VandeHei says.

The reason why minority groups play such a huge role in the aftermath of this election is the narrow margin of the race. VandeHei says the minority vote could have made the critical difference in swing states that Republicans lost by only a small percentage.

Exit polls indicate 72 percent of voters who went to the polls Tuesday were white. That percentage is smaller than the record low set in 2008, when 74 percent of the voting public registered as white.

That means 28 percent of the country who voted Tuesday identifies as a minority, says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. For a party with a predominantly white base, that is a growing issue that needs to be addressed, he says.

"If the Republican party continues to [see] their constituency as lily white as they were last night, they cannot win national elections, Sabato says.

However, with up-and-comers in the party like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Sabato says there is a recognition by the party that the connection with minorities is important for their survival.

"Fortunately for them, they've got some minority representation in Congress in the governorships ... They can draw from these people for national tickets," Sabato says.

That conversation between Republicans and Hispanics stops at immigration reform, VandeHei says. in 2000, President George Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. Tuesday, Romney won less than 30 percent of the same segment of voters.

"Republicans are going to have to find a way to do immigration reform, which isn't the only issue that Hispanics care about, but boy if you can't get past that one issue, you can't have a conversation with that voting block," VandeHei says.

"There could be a marriage of ideas between the Republican party and Hispanics but they're not getting there. They're losing ground not gaining ground," he says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)