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US Elections 2012 Analysis: Republicans Head Towards a "Social Cliff"

Bill O'Reilly on Fox News on Tuesday night: "It's not a traditional (white) America anymore. And there are 50% of the voting public who want stuff....The white establishment is now the minority."

See also EA Video Analysis: Your 4-Point Guide to the US Elections...& What Happens Next
US Elections Audios: What's Next for Obama, the Republicans, & the Country --- Scott Lucas' 4 Interviews with BBC
US Elections 2012 Audio: Obama's Victory and "What's Next for Foreign Policy" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

On Thursday, Lee Haddigan and I were asked by The Hill for an evaluation of the big lesson from the US Elections. It gave us a chance to reflect on what was the big surprise of Tuesday night for us --- the turnout of ethnic voters, as well as support from youths and women, that gave President Obama victory --- and what this means for US politics and society:

Back in November 2010, after Republicans decisively overturned the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, President Obama admitted his party had taken a “shellacking” in the midterm elections.

Now it is the turn of the Republicans. Despite retaining the House, and the closeness of the popular vote in the presidential contest, they got a shellacking as significant, perhaps more so, as that handed out two years ago. Many voters signaled not only that they were far from satisfied with the proposed alternative to President Obama's approach to the economy; they rebuked the GOP's conservative stance on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. A growing and determined majority of young and female Americans put the Republicans beyond the acceptable, and ethnic groups --- who may have been decisive in the Obama victory --- moved farther away from the GOP. 

So the question in these days after the election: will Republicans recognize that a majority of Americans may not be interested in using the Bible as guidebook for legislating the lives of private citizens? Can they accept that the same majority no longer see the US as the protected reserve of the descendants of the nation's "white" founders?

The civil war on social issues that will be waged within the Republican Party over the next few months and years will bleed over into the economic choices facing GOP politicians in Washington. Mitt Romney's defeat means that his party can only adhere to its strict conservative message of tax cuts and decreased federal government spending if it gives way on hard-line social positions. The Republicans will have to abandon a commitment to the Defense of Marriage Act, stop the quest to overturn Roe v Wade, and end resistance to the DREAM Act. Playing hardball on both fiscal and social issues is no longer an option if the GOP wants to present a viable candidate in the next Presidential elections, and indeed in some Congressional contests in 2014.

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