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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Newt’s Big Strategy For Minority Outreach

On the very day when Republicans are in the process of dumping their African-American party chairman, word comes from South Carolina (via Jon Chait) that Newt Gingrich is stressing the need for a massive outreach to minority voters.

The midterm win wasn’t enough and Republicans need to aim for winning 40 more House seats and 12 or 13 more Senate seats in the next election, Gingrich said to a crowd at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes.
“If you’re going to govern in 2013, you’re going to need a really large margin,” he said.
To do that, Republicans need to spend at least 30 percent of their time campaigning to black, Hispanic and other minority communities and emphasize lowering taxes instead of social programs such as welfare.

Quite appropriately, Chait found it hilarious that Gingrich thought Republicans weren’t spending enough time talking about tax cuts.
But it’s a sign of Newt’s myopia that he doesn’t seem to think there’s anything about the GOP’s messaging that might represent a bar to a better performance among minority voters.
Totally aside from Newt’s trumped-up “lowering taxes instead of welfare” choice, minority voters just don’t agree with the fundamental premise of GOP rhetoric that too much government is threatening the country, as noted recently by Ron Brownstein in a column on exit poll findings:

Minorities were almost exactly twice as likely as whites to say that life would be better for the next generation than for their own; whites were considerably more likely to say that it would be more difficult. And on a question measuring bedrock beliefs about the role of government, the two racial groups again registered almost mirror-image preferences. Sixty percent of minorities said that government should be doing more to solve problems; 63 percent of whites said that government is doing too many things that would be better left to businesses and individuals.
The irony in these results is that minorities expressed more faith in both the future and the government than whites did, even though the recession has hit minority communities harder.

And beyond this very different set of perspectives, minority voters aren’t likely to get friendlier with a party that is in the habit of (a) blaming the housing and financial meltdowns on shiftless poor and minority families who took out mortgages they couldn’t afford; (b) screaming about non-existent “voter fraud” any time there’s an effort to help minorites exercise their right to vote; and (c) treating the first African-American president as a dangerous extremist who is consciously betraying the U.S. Constitution.
I’ve never quite shared the assessment of Newt as some sort of strategic genius, but maybe that’s because I’ve been watching him since he was a flaky history professor running to the left of a Democratic congressman in two straight elections back in the 70s.
Still, if Newt and other Republicans are serious about increasing their share of the minority vote, they need to understand that spending more time saying offensive things to minority voters ain’t going to get the job done.

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