Sunday, November 16, 2008

The GOP and the Latino Vote

Robert Stacy McCain minces no words with regard to the "archictect" of the GOP's presidential victories in 2000 and 2004: "To Hell With Karl Rove."

Why send Rove to the fiery depths? The "architect" says the GOP needs to get right with Latino voters. Here's
Robert's reply to Rove's suggestion that we need comprehensive immigration reform:

Transparent pandering on the wrong side of an issue is not a politically viable strategy for Republicans, since liberal Democrats can always outpander the GOP. If a majority Hispanic voters are not supporting the Republican Party, the reasons have more to do with socioeconomic factors than with a monomaniacal support for amnesty among Hispanics. If the only way to get more Hispanic votes is to endorse subversive policies, then the GOP ought to be happy with the support of whatever minority of Hispanic voters oppose subversion.
Rove doesn't specifically mention amnesty in the passages Robert cites, although just to mention the word "comprehensive" must throw base-conservatives into fits.

Beyond that, Robert's addtional comments border on stereotypical ignorance of Latinos.

As I point out in
my essay today at Pajamas Media, at least 20 percent of Latino voters are traditional conservatives with deep religious affiliations. The GOP blows off this constituency at its peril, and that's not even in the context of immigration issues.

But note the interesting point raised by Duncan Currie in his piece, "
Hispanic Panic":

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican from the Miami area, puts it bluntly: "We have a very, very serious problem." He is referring to the GOP's lack of support among Hispanics, which could derail the party's future presidential hopes.

In a September 2007 Washington Post column, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson noted that "a substantial shift of Hispanic voters toward the Democrats" in five states - Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico - "could make the national political map unwinnable for Republicans." All five of those states went for George W. Bush in 2004, and all but Arizona went for Barack Obama in 2008. Democratic pollster Fernand Amandi of Bendixen & Associates, which specializes in Hispanic public opinion, says that "the Hispanic vote played a crucial role, if not the determinant role" in helping Obama carry Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

The numbers in Florida were especially striking. According to the exit polls, Bush won Florida Hispanics by 12 percentage points (56-44) in 2004, while John McCain lost Florida Hispanics by 15 percentage points (57-42) in 2008. In other words, between 2004 and 2008, the Hispanic presidential vote in Florida swung by 27 percentage points.

What explains that? Among other things, a decline in the relative strength of the Cuban vote, which remains heavily Republican. An increasingly large share of Florida's Hispanic population is made up of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans, Nicaraguans, Colombians, -Venezuelans, Argentines, and other non-Cubans. Indeed, according to Bendixen & Associates, non-Cubans now account for a majority of Latino voters in the Sunshine State. (Just 20 years ago, says Amandi, Cubans represented around 90 percent of Florida's Hispanic voters.) It appears that Obama also did noticeably better among Florida Cubans than John Kerry did four years ago, thanks to the younger generation of Cuban Americans, though McCain still received a huge majority of the Cuban vote.

What about Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico? In each of these states, Latinos made up a significantly bigger portion of the electorate in 2008 than they did in 2004. The Pew Hispanic Center reports that the increase was 5 percentage points in Colorado, 5 percentage points in Nevada, and 9 percentage points in New Mexico. In 2008, Latinos accounted for 13 percent of the electorate in Colorado, 15 percent in Nevada, and 41 percent in New Mexico.

According to the exit polls, Obama ran 16 percentage points ahead of Kerry among Nevada Hispanics and 13 percentage points ahead of Kerry among New Mexico Hispanics. In Colorado, Obama actually ran 7 percentage points behind Kerry among Hispanics, but he still won 61 percent of the Latino vote and ran 8 percentage points ahead of Kerry among white voters.

Even in McCain's home state of Arizona, Obama won Hispanics by 15 percentage points (56-41). In Texas, Obama won Hispanics by 28 percentage points (63-35). James Gimpel, an immigration expert at the University of Maryland, predicts that Arizona and even Texas will soon become "blue" states thanks to their large and rapidly growing Hispanic populations. (In 2008, Hispanics were 16 percent of the electorate in Arizona and 20 percent of the electorate in Texas.)
There's more at the link.

67 percent of Latino voters turned out for the Democratic ticket on November 4th.

Frankly, no one was talking about immigration in 2008. It was all economy, all the time. Once Wall Street crashed, the GOP's strengths on character and national security went down the drainpipes. Thus, a good number of Latinos shifted to the Democrats this year on the basis of cyclical, even ephemeral, issues (not the least of which was the ethereal campaign of "The One"), and it's simply not good politics to write off the fastest growing demographic in American politics.

I'll certainly have more on this topic going forward.

In the meantime, the Politco's got a new piece up on the Latino vote, "
GOP Back to Square One With Hispanics."