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It is not just that 42 million more voters turned out in the presidential year. It is who those voters were. Eighteen million of those who cast a ballot in 2012 but who had not done so in 2010 were Latino, African-American and Asian voters. An additional 8 million of the increased 2012 turnout came from the ranks of voters between the ages of 18 and 29.
Put bluntly, the Democrats won 4 in 5 of the ballots cast by Asian, Latino and African-American voters--providing them in 2012 with a nearly 14 million-vote margin over Republicans. Young voters--who, unlike the case with 2010, represented a substantially larger share of the 2012 electorate than did voters older than 65 and who are the least white age cohort in the nation--provided Democrats overall with close to a net 8 million-vote edge over Republicans.
It's highly unlikely that a take-no-prisoners conservative campaign by the Republicans in 2016 would convert these growing constituencies of younger, nonwhite voters to their side.
So unless the GOP can figure out a way of making sure that more than 40 million voters permanently stay home, the only logical course for the Republicans is to heed the counsel of the GOP's Shirts and to figure out, in a hurry, how to credibly speak to the concerns and the hopes of voters who are increasingly less old, less white and less Republican.
Mark Shields is a columnist for Creators Syndicate.