(The Root) — In Republicans’ burning zeal to deny America’s first black president a second term, the GOP’s tactics and their unintended consequences ensured that Barack Obama would have four more years.
GOP legislators and politicians offended African Americans. Offended women. Offended Hispanics. Offended gays. Apparently only straight, white Christian men were off-limits.
Their never-ending, flagrant disrespect of Obama, their racist dog whistling about the food stamp president and their systematic attempt to suppress the vote awoke the sleeping black giant. There was a serious threat that a mild case of black indifference was setting in, until the Republican schemes to discourage and dampen certain voter participation became evident, morphing the presidential election into a 2012 civil rights movement.
There was also Mitt Romney’s post-NAACP speech to an all-white audience. After his appearance earlier in the day at the historic civil rights group’s national convention, where he had been booed for promising to end Obamacare, the quarter-billionaire responded later to a group of donors in Hamilton, Mont.: “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for? Vote for the other guy; that’s what he’s all about, OK? That’s not, that’s not what I’m about.”
More than half the electorate voted for the other guy. In some instances, in record numbers.
In bellwether state Ohio, for example, blacks, who make up 12 percent of the state’s population, cast 15 percent of the votes Tuesday night.
Extreme right-wing Republicans launched a battery of attacks around women’s issues, from anti-contraception to the redefinition of rape, enticing America’s largest voting bloc — 53 percent — to favor President Obama. Women voted in record numbers, giving the president 55 percent of their vote, according to exit polls, while Romney got only 44 percent. Among single women, Obama beat out his Republican challenger by an amazing 38 percentage points.
The GOP’s anti-Hispanic tone and legislation worked against them as well. Right-wing immigration policies, Arizona’s profiling law and Romney’s recommendation that undocumented Latinos “self-deport” have made the GOP one party that Hispanics prefer to skip. Now 10 percent of the electorate, 71 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama, whose street cred with them is about as good as the Republicans’ is bad.
Since becoming president, Obama has appointed Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice, supported comprehensive immigration reform and signed an executive order initiating the policies of the DREAM Act, thus stopping the deportation of hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants.
Republicans have also alienated gay Americans by relaunching their culture wars, targeting same-sex marriage and attacking Obama’s repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. According to an exit poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 77 percent of the gay vote went to the president, with the Republican challenger only getting 23 percent. The poll also reported that 5 percent of the electorate self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
All that bashing of “the other” exposed the GOP as the whites-only club it’s becoming. And all that unfriendly fire on all those important voting blocs came at a cost.