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Will GOP answer wake-up call?

Alejandro Escalona

Alejandro Escalona

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Updated: December 19, 2012 11:47AM

The Republican Party is scrambling to understand just what hit it on Election Day.

Republicans don’t yet seem to grasp the extent our country is changing, not only demographically but also politically. They alienated plenty of voters by embracing extreme views on the role of government, immigration, women’s reproductive rights, the environment and gay equality.

To add insult to injury, Republicans figured minorities would not vote in great numbers, so their victory was almost guaranteed. Mitt Romney didn’t even bother to write a concession speech.

I am not here to offer free advice. But perhaps the first step Republicans should take is to take a close look at the crowds awaiting President Barack Obama and Romney on election night.

One crowd is the emerging America: youths, blacks, Latinos, whites, women, Asians, gays and the elderly. The other crowd was out of the ’50s, with just a sprinkling of minorities. It was like watching episodes of “Modern Family” and “Gilligan’s Island” side-by-side.

I grew up watching “Gilligan’s Island.” But our country looks very different now. And Republicans ignored the demographic changes at their peril.

A hilarious Twitter spinoff called Mexican Mitt Romneez entertained thousands of followers during the presidential race with on-the-mark tweets that poked fun at both campaigns. He recently ridiculed GOP strategist Karl Rove, who predicted that Romney would win 285 electoral votes and take Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Virginia.

“Karlos Rove did not see the brown tide coming,” wrote Mexican Mitt Romneez, whose Twitter profile features a Photoshop job of Romney wearing a big sombrero.

I suggest Republicans talk to Christian Gutierrez, a 29 year-old Republican operative who was at the Romney election night party in Chicago. Gutierrez works as a community liaison for U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

Gutierrez told me how the excitement of election night turned into a big disappointment for Romney’s followers as the results came in. First, there was panic, and then shock and disbelief.

“We were convinced we were going to win,” he told me. “I was dissappointed, but the next day I saw the big turnout of the Latino community and I was proud.”

Gutierrez blames his party’s defeat on its failure to appreciate the magnitude of demographic changes, but also on its extreme views on immigration and social issues.

“We ran a negative campaign that alienated Latinos, women and young people,” he said. “We have sound positions as far as the economy, but we should not have embraced the extreme views of the right wing on social issues.”

I met Gutierrez during the taping of a local news show right before the elections. He defended well some of Romney’s positions but came across as a moderate Republican. His advice to fellow Republicans if they want to get back to the White House in 2016:

“First, we have to look at the numbers and accept the new demographic reality,” he said. “We also need to take more moderate views on issues like immigration and violence against women.”

I doubt GOP leaders are ready to listen. Then again, some prominent Republicans already are moving toward a more sensible approach to immigration.

I may regret saying this four years from now, but Gutierrez might be onto something.

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