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After Republicans lost in 2012, failing to retake the White House and actually losing Senate seats despite a sagging Obama-era economy, two prominent analyses were proposed.
One — the Republican National Committee’s “autopsy” — said the GOP’s problem was embracing social issues too much and liberal immigration too little. The other analysis — the “Missing White Voter” thesis — was grounded in actual data. It said the problem was that the GOP of the Bush family and Mitt Romney had turned off working-class whites to the point that they disengaged.
Put another way, the GOP establishment in 2012 said the party could win by becoming more like George H.W. Bush; the deeper analysis said it could win if it became more like Ross Perot.
Perot, who died Tuesday, ran for president in 1992 and 1996. He probably didn’t determine the outcome of either election, but he did teach us something about our country. It’s a lesson most of us refused to learn at the time, because Perot lost. Then we couldn’t help but learn that lesson in 2016, because that's the year Perot’s political heir ran for president and won.
After Romney's 2012 loss, it was popular to say that demographic tides were drowning the GOP. The only way for Republicans ever to win again, supposedly, was to embrace immigration reform. Serendipitously, this was the policy already favored by the GOP elite and the business lobby that funded them.
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