Phyllis Schlafly's White Voter Mirage

PHOTO: Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, 88, speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference in March 2013.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

After the 2012 election, somewhat of a consensus began to develop among Republican officials: the party needs to get more diverse.

With black voters casting ballots at historic rates and the rapid growth of Latinos and Asian-Americans, a critical mass of GOP thinkers agreed that the party needs to attract non-white voters (even if they disagree on how to do it).

But longtime conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, 88, doesn't see it that way. She appeared on the Focus Today radio program to share her take. Here's the clip flagged by the liberal Right Wing Watch:

"I think that's a great myth because the Hispanics who come in like this are going to vote Democrat. And there is not the slightest bit of evidence they are going to vote Republican.

"The people the Republicans should reach out to are the white votes -- the white voters who didn't vote in the last election. And there are millions of them...

"The propagandists are leading us down the wrong path. There is not any evidence at all that these Hispanics coming in from Mexico will vote Republican."

The GOP has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections exactly by pursuing this type of strategy.

Mitt Romney won 59 percent of the white vote last year, according to exit polls, the best performance for a Republican since 1988. The problem for conservatives who think like Schlafly is that white voters are shrinking as a share of the electorate -- and they have been for more than a decade. In 1996, over 79 percent of eligible voters were white. Last year, that percentage was just above 71 percent. Schlafly's vision of a massive, untapped pool of white voters is a mirage.

Here's another problem for Republicans: Latino population growth is being driven by Hispanic kids born in the U.S. (aka future eligible voters), and not "Hispanics coming in from Mexico," as Schlafly put it.

Simply put, the GOP needs non-white voters in order to be competitive in future elections.

As Ron Brownstein noted last August, Republicans now acknowledge that they will need to change the way they do business:

Republican strategists clearly feel the weight of trying to assemble a national majority with so little support among minorities that they must win three in five whites. "This is the last time anyone will try to do this," one said. If Republicans can't find more effective ways to bridge the priorities of their conservative core and the diversifying Next America, that weight will grow more daunting every year.

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