William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE RACE TWO DAYS OUT – AT 10:34 A.M. ET:  One of the closest elections I've ever seen, at least according to the polls, which may be right or wrong.  Rasmussen has it tied at 49-49, with very few undecideds:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows the race tied with President Obama and Mitt Romney each attracting support from 49% of voters nationwide. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and another one percent (1%) remains undecided.

These figures include both those who have already voted and those likely to vote. Obama leads among those who have already voted, while Romney leads among those deemed likely to vote. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters are projected to be Democrats and 37% Republicans. Both candidates do well within their own party, while Romney has a nine-point advantage among unaffiliated voters.

And now the blunt part:

One key to the outcome on Election Day will be the racial and ethnic mix of the electorate. In 2008, approximately 74% of voters were white. The Obama campaign has argued that this will fall a couple of percentage points in 2012 with an increase in minority voting. Others have noted the increased enthusiasm among white voters and the decreased enthusiasm among Hispanic voters and suggest that white voters might make up a slightly larger share of the electorate this time around. It is significant because Romney attracts 58% of the white vote, while Obama has a huge lead among non-white voters.

If the white turnout increases on Election Day, it will be very difficult for the president to win. If it decreases, it will be very difficult for him to lose. Rasmussen Reports currently estimates that white turnout will be similar to the 2008 totals. Black voters, however, are far more likely to have voted already than any other segment of the electorate.

COMMENT:  I think that's it in a nutshell, and it exposes a major flaw in Republican strategy...the failure to engage the Hispanic community.  This community is hard-working, family-oriented, and conservative in its social values.  It is the fastest-growing segment of the population, and is a perfectly reasonable political target for Republicans.  But the GOP, historically, has been slow to embrace new constituencies.  (You may recall that this site argued for the selection of Marco Rubio as vice-presidential candidate in part to correct that problem.)  If Romney loses the election by a small amount, the GOP will have what one pundit already is calling "a Hispanic hangover."

I don't see much hope for Republicans in the black community, which has its own culture and sees an African-American in the White House.  But the Hispanic community is another story.

But there is hope.  We see enormous Republican enthusiasm and only limited Democratic fervor.  The bloom is definitely off the Obama rose.  If Republicans turn out in the numbers we hope for, and have a reason to expect, Romney can pull this out.

November 4,  2012