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Are Graham, others right about why GOP lost in 2012?

Republicans are “in a demographic death spiral” and will fail in their effort to win the presidency if the party blocks an immigration overhaul.—The Hill [Remarks by Sen. Graham]

Leading Republicans, including the dynamic Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), insist we need to pass what many call amnesty for illegal aliens. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), known for sometimes taking a stance against party doctrine, recently said that Republicans are “in a demographic death spiral.” We won’t win in 2016 unless we pass an “immigration bill.”

Did the GOP lose in 2012 because of immigration? I don’t think so.

I think we lost for a number of reasons. Chief among them was the stark contrast in campaigns. Plus in the advantage of our incumbent president who had the manpower and tax dollars of the federal government at his command.

Shutting down grassroots groups—groups key to registering voters—was an effective tool on the part of the Internal Revenue Service and the agency’s Washington commandos (whoever they were). We now know that numerous conservative groups were obstructed in their attempts to get tax exempt status, effectively slamming the door on contributions they might have otherwise got to fund their efforts.

There are more ways to analyze demographics on the 2012 election than I can count. You can turn to a George Mason University analysis for some useful information.

In the voting eligible population (VEP), 58.2 percent turned out to vote. Had the GOP managed to increase turnout—popular talk show host Rush Limbaugh noted that 3 million Republicans sat this one out—that certainly might have helped.

I came away from the figures and from an analysis of exit polls done by the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut with one standout question—the obvious generational gap between President Barack Obama the Democrat and Gov. Mitt Romney the Republican.

Obama drew the lion’s share of the youth vote, in age groups ranging from 18-44 years. Romney took the majority of the vote for those older than 45.

Race mattered. The largest minority group, blacks, voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

What else mattered? The debates. The narratives. Media coverage including blatant soft advocacy for the incumbent.

In 2012, hispanics accounted for 10 percent of the votes in the Roper analysis. Other analyses may place the figure a bit higher or lower.

But the bottom line is that it is a false argument to claim that a single group gave Obama the presidency.

Most races hinge on the persona of the candidate and the messaging the candidate takes to the people.

Republicans failed on messaging, angered the Ron Paul libertarian sector of the party, didn’t even attempt to persuade blacks (currently at an unemployment rate of roughly 13 percent), neglected any messaging to voters younger than 45. We conducted a campaign that didn’t pass muster and often sounded like a broken record by repeating a single meme—jobs.

Above all, we refused to go after Democrats aggressively despite Benghazi writing on the wall and shrinking wallets across America.

The current immigration bill S.  744 (Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act) has good points and some seriously bad ones. Among the good is the effort to curb chain migration. Among the seriously bad is the Senate’s refusal to guarantee border security before blanket amnesty regulations set in.

We’ve been here before, most recently in 1986. Congress lied to us then and we face the current meltdown of the bureaucracy as a result.

If we can’t handle processing immigrants who’ve come here legally, how are we to handle millions who presumably will attempt to gain legal status?

Above all, how are we going to afford this bill?

Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, takes a dim view of S. 744:

Political doublespeak may alter some people’s perception of reality, but it cannot change reality itself. The reality is that the Gang of Eight bill would bestow immediate amnesty on some 12 million illegal aliens, and citizenship within 13 years. American taxpayers would spend trillions of dollars on social benefits for this largely low-income population. And the American labor market would be flooded with tens of millions of new permanent and temporary workers over the coming decade.

Graham may truly believe only hispanics can save the GOP, but here’s what I know.

The GOP can save itself by nominating, rather than anointing, a candidate capable of uniting the party and uniting the country. We can save ourselves by nurturing those grassroots groups whose volunteers will knock on doors and register people to vote.

Above all, we can save ourselves by drawing a sharp contrast in what we believe in and what we will offer Americans—all of us. We can refrain from exploiting the color of a person’s skin, a tradition dating to the earliest years of the Democrat Party.

And we can point out the disastrous consequences of a government grown so large that Secret Service agents feel comfortable hanging out with prostitutes and the powerful IRS felt at ease stomping on the neck of freedom of speech.

There is much work we can do and immigration doesn’t have anything to do with it. Graham’s declaration is a perfect example of what is wrong with my party. Hopefully, we have leaders somewhere who will recognize that and push for change within the party founded on premises of freedom for all, even as our personal freedoms wilt and die on the vine.

Republicans lost in 2012 because we brought a bubble wand to a street fight. Dems knew better. They brought cannons.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/June 17, 2013)

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