RILEY: That's not the top issue that they vote on, but it's symbolic.
GIGOT: But is this a symbolic threshold issue? In other words, if you don't appear open to immigration, then they won't listen to you on the other things?
RILEY: I wouldn't go that far. It's just a sense of making them feel welcome in the party. And when you have primary debates about whether the fence should be electrified --
-- or a hundred feet tall, they get a sense they may not be welcome.
GIGOT: All right, Dan, what about other parts of the coalition? Or - - to what extent is the core Republican Party principles of small government, traditionalism on social issues, to what extent were those costly here for the party, if at all?
HENNINGER: Well, it was a close election. Let me see if I can talk about this without it being taken in the wrong way. The white vote in the United States is almost -- not wholly Republican, but overwhelmingly Republican.
GIGOT: Romney got, I think, 60 percent of that vote, 61.
HENNINGER: Sixty percent of the vote. Even among 18 year olds, he got 52 percent of white 18 year olds.
Now, the idea -- the media keeps talking about the white vote as though there's some weird sort of racial story beneath it. There's nothing racial about this. It's about your perception of your own economic self- interest. And I think the -- there is no evidence in this election that the Republican Party's ideas on tax efficiency or certainly even Medicare and Social Security reform did not hurt them among elderly voters at all in Florida, that those ideas are not the problem in this campaign. It had more to do with a certain technical way that Mitt Romney ran that campaign and the overwhelmingly -- the power of the Obama turnout machine. But the Republicans should not, I think, stand back and say, how do we reengineer our ideas? That was not their big problem in this campaign.
GIGOT: Yes. If you step back, Kim, the election was, what, Romney lost two percent of the popular vote.
STRASSEL: Right. Right.
GIGOT: It was a landslide in the Electoral College. But if you changed 300,000 votes in four states, Mitt Romney would be president.
GIGOT: Now, that's, in some way, a fool's game because that's the way it always is. And I'm not trying to sugar-coat the defeat. But the Republicans now own, I think, 30 governorships around the country.
STRASSEL: Right. Right.
GIGOT: So -- and, of course, they kept the House, which they -- and they lost only what, about five, six seats after having won 63 two years ago, and despite this being a Democratic year. So, can you overdo the Republicans "woe is us" panic here?
STRASSEL: Oh, you bet. And Democrats, by the way, are going to be pushing that. This is a sound track they roll out. This is -- the Republicans lost because they're too extreme. First they said that back in 2008, right before they got in the 2010 midterm elections.
But the problem here was not the GOP agenda. The problem was Romney didn't talk about that agenda much until the last month of the campaign. And as you said, you have had the big success story for the GOP, which was continued on Tuesday night, is this ownership of a growing number of states in terms of the governorships, state assemblies, the legislature, and those are pro-reform governors out there running on the very things, tax cuts and spending cuts and pro-growth policies. Voters are listening to that. They're responding by electing these people, but they have to hear the message.
GIGOT: All right.
Jason, one other thing, the youth vote.
RILEY: Yes, I think that's another area where I hope the GOP focus is going forward. Romney lost the youth vote -- these are 18 to 29 year olds -- to Obama by about 20 points this time. I mean, Bush only lost the youth vote -- and the youth vote typically does go Democrat, so it's just about being competitive.
RILEY: But Bush only lost the youth vote to Kerry in '04 by about nine points, and Bush lost it to Gore by less than that. Reagan won the youth vote. The trend is in the opposite direction --
GIGOT: Is that a cultural focus, miss on several of he gay marriage issues --
RILEY: It's -- it's --
GIGOT: -- or not hip enough?
RILEY: I don't know.
I'd love to have a conversation with a strategist about this. I think that the youth tends to vote on social issues, which is particularly surprising since so many are coming out of college and this economy looking so drab, but.
GIGOT: All right, Jason, thanks.
When we come back, House Speaker John Boehner extends an olive branch, promising to work with President Obama to avoid the fiscal cliff. So how much will they give and how will the White House respond?
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The American people have spoken and they've reelected President Obama and they've again reelected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. If there's a mandate in yesterday's results, it's a mandate for us to find a way to work together on the solutions to the challenges that we all face as a nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)