Jonathan Chait sees this campaign as the GOP’s “last, best chance to win an election in the party’s current demographic and ideological form”:
A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry over Mitt Romney’s birth certificate crack and a potential convention-altering hurricane. The subject was a Ron Brownstein story outlining the demographic hit rates each party requires to win in November. To squeak out a majority, Mitt Romney probably needs to win at least 61 percent of the white vote — a figure exceeding what George H.W. Bush commanded over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.
John Judis is on the same page:
Romney’s strategy is largely a reprise of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election strategy, minus Reagan’s public show of amiability and his support among Hispanics. With his recent ads on welfare, Romney is playing on the racial resentments of the white working class the same way Reagan did. Meanwhile, Republicans—perhaps with Romney’s support—are attempting to reduce the Democrats’ support among minorities by keeping them from the polls by passing new voting regulations. The Romney-Republican strategy is the dark side of the older Republican strategy: the Reagan of hardline conservative Pat Buchanan rather than of public relations man Michael Deaver. It could still work in November 2012—because of Obama’s weakness among the electorate. But it won’t lay the basis for a new Republican majority. If anything, it will guarantee the Republicans’ defeat in the decade to come.