My View: A GOP comeback needs the Hispanic vote
February 5, 2013
While the GOP continues searching its soul for reasons why they lost in
2012, they are beginning to realize that If the GOP ignores Hispanic views
on issues and continues expressing hostile attitudes toward Hispanics, the
party will continue its march toward minority party status like lemmings
trekking to the sea.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, of Asian descent, commented to the Republican
National Committee last month regarding the GOP attitude to people of color,
“The first step in getting the voters to like you is to demonstrate that you
How to get Hispanics to like them is a major challenge for the GOP. A
December 2011 survey conducted by Latino Decisions found 46 percent of
Latino voters said Republicans “don’t care too much” about Hispanics, and
another 27 percent said they “are being hostile.” It should have been no
surprise that 71 percent of the Latino vote went to Obama in 2012, a major
factor in Obamas victory.
With growth of the Hispanic population projected to be able to swing Texas
elections by 2018, that state could turn blue soon, duplicating the 2012
results in Florida, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Those Republicans who understood that have joined Democrats in the U.S.
senate to propose a comprehensive immigration bill. Those who have not,
especially in the House, are still old school, objecting to the clause
giving Hispanics a path to citizenship they call “amnesty.”
In Colorado, 75 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama in 2012 (up from 61
percent in 2008). The percentage of the Hispanic vote in the state had
increased from 13 percent in 2008 to 14 percent in 2012. Heavily Democratic
leaning Hispanics helped swing the state blue in the Senate, presidential,
state Legislature and governors races during the last four years. Why did
Hispanics in Colorado vote even more strongly for Obama in 2012 than they
did in the national average and even in past years? Motivation was
often the GOP messaging itself, both at the national level and especially at
the state level.
Mitt Romney added to the alienation. His policy to solve the 11 million
undocumented workers in the U.S. was “self deportation” with an
interpretation held by Hispanics that a GOP government would make conditions
so tough, the undocumented would want to return to Mexico. When he said he
would overturn the presidents executive order, which helped Dreamers stay
in the U.S., get a job, and go to college without getting deported, he hit
an even rawer nerve. (Dreamers are hoping to be college students,
undocumented, brought as children to the U.S., who have graduated from U.S.
The GOP also misread the polls when they concluded Latinos cared more about
education, health care, economy and jobs than immigration, but they falsely
assumed that meant conservative solutions would also appeal to them. Exit
polls showed the opposite; Hispanics liked Democratic approaches on those
issue more than the Republican positions. Even conservative social values
did not move Hispanics to the GOP. About 73 percent of Catholic Hispanics
and 82 percent non-religious Hispanics voted for Obama.
Immigration policies and education issues intersected in the Dream Act
controversy, too, influencing polling outcome on both of those issues.
Many Colorado Hispanics who can vote have relatives who are Dreamers and/or
they noted the acidic tone of Republicans in opposing the Dream Act in the
state legislature and on the campaign trail. Particularly irksome to
Hispanics was the unity of GOP Colorado legislators against giving Dreamers
in-state tuition or even reduced out of state tuition. Now that Democrats
control both houses of the state legislature, a bill allowing Dreamers to
be charged in-state college tuition has an excellent chance of passage.
Many Colorado Republican legislators must have missed Jindals memo as they
continue their vehement opposition.
for polls cited in this column.