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The not-so-silent minorities - The Vanderbilt Hustler: Columns

The not-so-silent minorities

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Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012 10:00 am

Although the electoral vote count showed a major disparity between candidates, with President Obama commanding 332 votes vs. Governor Romney’s 206, the popular vote painted a closer picture. President Obama received 51 percent of the popular vote while Gov. Romney had 48 percent. With three percent separating the two candidates, what really swayed the election in the president’s favor? If you take a closer look at the voter demographic, what sealed the deal for the president was his impressive victory in winning the minority vote. White voters, who make up almost 72 percent of the electorate, clearly favored Romney in the election as he garnered 59 percent of the white vote while President Obama received a measly 39 percent. With Romney taking charge of the white electorate, Obama heavily relied on the minority vote to achieve victory. President Obama acquired 93 percent of the black vote, 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and 73 percent of the Asian vote.

These are scary statistics for Republicans because the growth of the minority population in the U.S. shows no signs of slowing. Minorities account for 92 percent of the United States’ population growth, and there are more minority births in the U.S. annually than there are white births. This should be an alarming trend to the Republican Party due to the imminent “threat” of the minority majority, meaning that eventually the non-Hispanic whites will make up less than half of the population of the United States. As this dramatic demographic shift continues to progress, the eventual outcome will result in a considerable drop in the number of Republicans in seats of power. It is tough to envision a Republican becoming president in the near future, especially if the economy continues to show signs of recovery.

Minority support for President Obama and the Democrats is chiefly due to policies favoring minorities. I know that naturally people will say that minority voters, chiefly African-American voters, chose Obama because of his mixed race background, but in 2004, John Kerry got 88 percent of the black vote and in 2000 Gore got 90 percent — not a huge difference when compared to Obama’s 93 percent, especially when African-American voters make up 13 percent of the electorate. What really helped the president this time around was the Hispanic population, of which 71 percent showed Obama their support. Quoth the president himself:  “Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.” Hispanic voters showed overwhelming support for the president mainly due to his promise for immigration reform. This was coupled with the Republican Party’s tough stance on anti-immigration reform as well as their lack of support for the Dream Act, which would have granted legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have lived here for most of their lives. Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnicity and that fact alone will cause serious problems for Republican candidates in the near future unless they embrace comprehensive immigration reform.

Romney’s downfall was his insistence on self-deportation, even for those illegal immigrants living here for decades. Although a valid argument because the immigrants are indeed here illegally, Hispanic voters feel that this stance classifies them as numbers rather than people integrated into a community. Telling someone they are not wanted here, no matter how productive they have been to the community or economy, would not sit well with anyone. Although both parties’ arguments have merit, the Republican Party must undergo some serious changes regarding immigration if it hopes to win over Hispanic voters.

— Mihir Parthasarathy is a freshman in the College of Arts and Science. He can be reached at mihir.parthasarathy@vanderbilt.edu.

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