It’s early in the 2012 presidential election cycle, and we’ve already seen plenty of racist campaigning by nominees and potential nominees.

Tim Murphy at Mother Jones takes a closer look at the GOP’s changed relationship with one denigrated community, that of Muslim Americans.

This election cycle follows a year of politicians increasingly railing against the faith, whether in connection to “ground zero mosque” hysteria, or an unfounded national anti-shariah movement.

Current GOP presidential candidates and media favorites such as Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, and Newt Gingrich continue to vilify Muslims in their campaign efforts.

However, Murphy writes that this tactic did not seem to do any favors to congressional candidates during last year’s racially charged midterm election season.

Aggressively anti-Muslim political hopefuls like Sharron Angle in Nevada, Lou Ann Zelenik of Tennessee, and New York’s Rick Lazio all lost their bids.

“Over the last few years, through harsh immigration laws, an embrace of ‘otherism,’ and rhetorical jabs at Islam, GOPers have consolidated their grip on white voters at the expense of virtually everyone else–even as that demographic reflects a smaller and smaller share of the electorate as a whole,” Murphy writes. “Going forward, though, Republicans’ falling out with a once treasured constituency is emblematic of the question facing the party as a whole: How far can it go to win present elections without destroying its chances of prevailing in future ones?”

Whether Muslims end up voting as a bloc during the next presidential election, and how GOP candidates’ alienating rhetoric will bode for them in the long-term, remains to be seen.

Following the trend of the rapidly expanding demographic of people of color, the United States’ Muslim population is projected to more than double in the next 20 years.