In September, I exchanged Electoral College predictions with my friend Tom Lorentzen, who served in three presidential administrations beginning with Ronald Reagan. When I predicted a 332-206 advantage for President Barack Obama, Tom accused me of smoking quantities of the crop harvested in Humboldt County.

On Saturday afternoon, officials in Florida declared President Barack Obama the winner over Republican nominee Mitt Romney. That state's 29 electoral votes pushed the final Electoral College tally to 332-206.

The election results are not a testimony to any clairvoyance that I may possess but rather something far more fundamental. The Republican Party must do some soul searching if it is to remain relevant in our two-party system.

My last statement could easily be dismissed as the wishful thinking of a naive liberal. On the surface, the general election results do not suggest a major Republican overhaul is required. The president's Electoral College advantage does not mask that America remains a 51-49 country.

But this superficial analysis could prove to be the fool's gold that banishes the GOP to the Devil's Island of political relevance. The closeness of the election notwithstanding, the GOP brand is in need of serious change.

Last year, Senate seats in Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin and Maine were part of the Republican strategy to reclaim the majority in the Senate. But in the aftermath, all six will be part of the Democratic majority.


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As I wrote in August, the Electoral College map has changed to the point that the president could have lost Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin, and still be re-elected. The map was not as generous for Romney.

Moreover, the changing demographics allowed the president to maintain a small but consistent lead over Romney in many key battleground states.

In 2000, the percentage split between the white vote and nonwhite vote was 81-19. In 2008, that split had fallen to 74-26. The 2012 split was expected to be in the neighborhood of 72-28.

Battleground states Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Nevada all had nonwhite electorates that exceed the projected 2012 average. Romney won only North Carolina.

According to The Washington Post, Latinos made up 17 percent of Florida's voters this year, up from 14 percent in 2008. Among Latino voters, 60 percent preferred Obama compared with 39 percent for Romney. Obama won among Latinos 57 percent to 42 percent in 2008.

Over the past four years, Republicans in Congress also have engaged in the moral cynicism of obstruction for obstruction sake.

Going forward, Republicans can ill afford to be perceived as the party of anger that is against all things Obama. Nor can it be seen as the anti-immigration party. The party has made political miscalculations and now it's time to reboot.

But all is not lost. Working with the president to craft a humane immigration policy and supporting the Dream Act could be the first steps to chip away at the 71 percent of Latinos who supported the president in 2012.

Republicans could begin by advocating the immigration position put forth by former President George W. Bush.

Beyond what the election says for health care and against Paul Ryan's budget, we need two robust political parties that vigorously fight in the marketplace of ideas, but ultimately understands we are not a parliamentary system, but one that requires compromise.

We need leaders on both sides who understand ideological purity is secondary to governing.

There is a place where standing on one's so-called principles is detrimental to the nation. For there is no quicker way to reach political irrelevance than by the misguided path forged through political purity.

Contact Byron Williams at 510-208-6417 or byron@byronspeaks.com.