NDN Blog

The GOP's Hispanic Problem - The Hole is Very Deep

While it is conceivable that the GOP could nominate or place on the ticket a candidate who could do well with Hispanics in 2016 (Bush, Sandoval, Martinez, Rubio), the GOP starts out 2016 in a very deep hole that will be hard if not impossible to climb out of.

In the 2006 cycle the national GOP, led by the House GOP, rejected the more modern Bush approach to Hispanic voters, and firmly embraced a more vigorous anti-immigrant stance. In the 2006 mid-terms Hispanic voters fled the GOP, giving Democrats a 70/30 advantage, or about the same 2:1 margin Barack Obama got in each of the last two general elections. This is a long way from 40% President Bush received in 2004, a margin essential to his very narrow victory.

As the number of the Hispanics in the electorate increases every year this 2:1 structural advantage for Democrats becomes far more pernicious for the GOP every cycle, producing ever larger Democratic margins – in other words the GOP hole gets deeper every four years even if Democrats just maintain their current advantage.

Bush pollster Matthew Dowd once famously said that the GOP can no longer prevail in national elections without getting 40% of the Hispanic vote. In 2012, Mitt Romney received 27% - a pre Bush margin for the GOP. All the gains in image and performance we saw for the GOP in the Bush years had been washed away by 2012 in part due to the GOP’s embrace of the "self-deportation" approach, or the simple idea that their solution for the 11m undocumented immigrants living and working among us was for them to leave.

So while there are large structural barriers to the GOP becoming competitive again with Hispanics in Presidential cycles, it is my own belief that the issue and cultural barriers are perhaps greater today than they have ever been in the modern era of American politics. It isn’t only that that the anti-immigrant forces in the have prevailed in the GOP’s internal struggles and blocked comprehensive immigration reform for a decade now; it is isn’t only that they voted affirmatively to accelerate the deportation of the kids at the border last summer or deport DREAMers, targeting not just undocumented immigrants but innocent children; it isn’t only that they voted repeatedly to reinstate the threat of imminent deportation over all 11m that had been lifted in 2010 due to a reform in the deportation policies of DHS; and it isn’t only that they are fighting tooth and nail the most recent DAPA reforms from President Obama that would provide deportation relief and work permits for 5m long settled immigrant families. Taken together, all of these steps represent a dramatic escalation of the GOP’s anti-immigrant impulses, putting them in an even more extreme place than the extreme self-deportation stance Romney took in 2012.

And as bad as all of that is what makes the GOP’s task even more daunting are the extreme positions they’ve taken on the other three big issues most struggling Hispanic families care most about – the economy, health care and education. Paul Ryan’s budget guts federal spending on public education. Repealing Obamacare denies health insurance to tens of millions of Hispanics, the demographic group who will benefit the most from the full implementation of the ACA (impossible to overstate the significance of this in 2016). The contrast of the performance of the economy under recent Republican and Democratic Presidents has become very stark as no demographic group made stronger economic gains in the US last year than Hispanics, and it is just a fact that under Clinton and Obama things have gotten much better for Hispanics, and under Bush much worse. The GOP has repeatedly fought raising the minimum wage, something very important to Hispanic workers in the US.

And even look at Cuba policy, something that could very easily become a powerful surrogate for the broader acceptance of Latin America and its peoples by the US and Americans. Rubio and Bush have doubled down on an anachronistic policy that is deeply unpopular in the US, in Cuba, throughout Latin America and even in Florida. The more nuanced and welcoming Obama stance on Cuba has played well in Florida, helping give the Democrats a majority of the Cuban-American vote in 2012. New polls out in the last few weeks show that a majority of Cuban-Americans back the President’s most recent diplomatic opening. The Bush/Rubio position on Cuba is a political dead end, and it will make it harder for them to reach the rest of the Hispanic population – something that was not the case in the W Bush era.

In my thirteen years studying the Hispanic vote, the issue contrast between Democrats and Republicans on the issues Hispanics care about most has never been greater or more potentially dangerous for the GOP. And the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, is well regarded among Hispanics and will run a well-funded and competent campaign. She starts with a strong personal and family standing, among the strongest of any Democrat in the modern era; with a large, significant and growing structural electoral advantage; and I would argue a structural issue advantage far more favorable for the Democrats than in any time in the modern era. So while it is possible that a Bush or a Sandoval could help the GOP limb a bit out this enormous political hole dug by other Republicans in recent years, it is my belief that today is far far more likely that Hillary Clinton gets to 70% percent with Hispanics and puts the election away than it is any GOPer makes the Republican ticket competitive again with this fast growing and vital vote in 2016. The hole is just too deep, the likely Democratic nominee is just too strong, and the potential GOP field just not compelling enough to make the difference.


Related Readings:


Backgrounder: The President's Trade Agenda

As the debate on the President's trade agenda in Washington continues, we wanted to have one place to share all background resources for those who wish to get caught up. We hope you find these reports and pieces to be helpful:

Obama Administration Materials

  • Report: "Standing Up for the Environment: Trade for a Greener World," USTR, 5/21/15. 
  • Full Speech: "The World Wants What America Makes," Secretary John Kerry in Renton, Washington, 5/19/15. 
  • Full Speech: "An Open and Secure Internet: We Must Have Both," Secretary John Kerry in Seoul, Korea, 5/18/15.  
  • Blog: "Seizing Strategic Opportunity Through Trade", Caroline Atkinson, 5/7/15. 
  • Full Speech: "The Digital Economy and Trade: A 21st Leadership Imperative," Deputy USTR Robert Holleyman at NDN, 5/1/15.
  • Fact Sheet: "The Digital Dozen," USTR, 5/1/15.
  • Report: "The Economic Benefits of Trade," White House Council of Economic Advisors, 5/1/15.
  • Report: "The United States of Trade," USTR and U.S. Department of Commerce, 5/1/15. 
  • Transcript: "U.S. Trade Negotiations Aim to Raise Labor and Environmental Standards," Conversation with USTR Michael Froman at Council on Foreign Relations, 06/14/14.

The Path Forward

Noteworthy Op-Eds/Articles/Reports:

Other Useful Materials

Materials from NDN

NDN in the Press

Additional Important Websites

 If there are other articles you think should be added, email me at ccantor@ndn.org. We will update this regularly to include the latest information. 

NDN Hosts D/USTR Holleyman for Digital Trade Speech

Along with Rep. Ron Kind, NDN was pleased to host Deputy United States Trade Representative Robert Holleyman II last Friday for a major, comprehensive speech on the digital economy and global trade. Called "The Digital Economy and Trade: A 21st Century Leadership Imperative," the speech described how President Obama’s high-standard, 21st Century trade agreements are designed to eliminate digital barriers to trade, as well as to ensure that the Internet remains open and free. 

To read the speech, visit here. Video of the speech is now available here or you can view below.  And be sure to check out this handy summary from USTR of the "Digital Dozen" - the twelve principles that are driving USTR's approach to the digital economy in the ongoing trade negotiations. 

Thanks to all those who attended our event. Please do read the speech and spread it throughout your networks. It is one of the most exhaustive and important articulations of the Administration's approach to realizing the promise of the Internet as we move deeper in the 21st century.

For more from NDN's work in support of the President's trade agenda, visit here

Invite: Fri, 5/1 - Digital Trade Event w/Amb Holleyman, Rep. Kind

We are excited to invite you to join us on Friday, May 1st for "The Digital Economy and Trade: A 21st Century Leadership Imperative" - a timely speech by Deputy United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Holleyman II. We are fortunate to have New Democrat Coalition Chair Rep. Ron Kind hosting us and making introductory remarks. 

From agriculture to banking to manufacturing to green energy, the digital economy is at the heart of America’s global competitiveness and prosperity. Whether you define digital trade narrowly, by the volume of products and services ordered over the internet, or broadly, by the volume of trade and commerce in which the internet and internet-based technologies play a significant role, digital trade is having a transformative impact on our economy. According to a recent report issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the combined effects of enhanced productivity and lower international trade costs in digitally intensive industries likely increased U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) by somewhere between 500 and 700 billion dollars. However, the ITC’s analysis also suggests that foreign trade barriers are having significant negative effects on U.S. digital trade. Those barriers include localization requirements, market access limitations, data privacy and protection requirements, and restrictions on cross-border data flows.

Ambassador Holleyman will describe how President Obama’s high-standard, 21st Century trade agreements are designed to eliminate those barriers, as well as to ensure that the internet remains free and open for all legitimate trade. This event will now take place on May 1st at 10 am in Rayburn House Office Building room B-354. In order to attend, please rsvp by registering here. If you previously rsvp'd, please do so again to ensure that we have you down for the new date.

Be sure to read NDN’s statement of support of Trade Promotion Authority, and my own op-ed, “An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade.” 

NDN Statement in Support of Trade Promotion Authority

“The bipartisan agreement on Trade Promotional Authority (TPA) is welcome news. Passing this TPA bill will be a critical step in helping bring ongoing trade negotiations with allies in Africa, Europe and in the Pacific to a successful close in the coming months. These trade agreements, if passed by Congress, will not just serve America’s geopolitical interests, but will also help our companies and workers succeed in a global economy where 95% of the world’s customers lie outside the United States.

But this bipartisan TPA is more than just a single, well wrought compromise among Senators Hatch and Wyden, and Representative Ryan. It is another step in Congress becoming a far more responsible partner with this Administration in advancing America’s interests in a fast changing and complicated world. With the range of issues in front of the US now – ISIS, containing Iran’s nuclear program, updating and expanding the global trade system, fashioning a better day for the US and Latin America, ensuring an open and free Internet and stopping Russia’s aggression in Europe (to name just a few) – this Congress all of a sudden feels consequential, and perhaps even historically important. If they can seize the moment, the Obama Administration and Congress can together fashion lasting bipartisan approaches to a whole set of vital global issues, leaving America far more secure and our people better prepared to prosper in a new century full of both great opportunity and challenge.

Thus NDN welcomes this new TPA bill, and congratulates Senators Hatch and Wyden, and Representative Ryan for their hard work in fashioning such sensible compromise today. We look forward to working with them to pass it through Congress and bring it to the President’s desk for his signature in the months ahead. “

   -  Simon Rosenberg, President, NDN

As background, here are some of my other recent writings on the President's trade agenda:

- Fighting to Keep the Internet Open and Free, US News and World Report, 10/22/14.

-The Liberal Order Needs An Upgrade, US News and World Report, 9/23/14.

-Thoughts on the President's Trade Agenda, 1/31/14.

-An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade, Huffington Post, 1/21/14.

NDN Statement on WaPo/Univision Cuba Poll

"There is a lot to digest in this new, historic poll of the Cuban people.  But what seems clear is that two thirds of Cubans want a new and better path for their country; a majority believes the status quo benefits their government and not them; a minority supports the current regime and their politics; and the US and the American President are getting a lot of credit for working to help the Cuban people find this better day through the Administration's approach. 

If the ultimate end of the current policy approach of the Administration was to help move Cuba beyond the Castro era it appears that America has developed a powerful ally in this effort - the Cuban people themselves."

- Simon Rosenberg, April 8th, 2015

You can read more about this historic poll here.  And be sure to review this recent poll showing the new Cuba policy of the Administration has majority support among Cuban-Americans in the US. 

Comparing the Economic Record of the Last Two Democratic and Republican Presidents

As the country gets ready to pick a new President in 2016, we felt it would be interesting to look at the recent economic performance of the Democratic and Republican parties when they controlled the White House. While there were many ways to cut this data, we chose the last two Presidents of each party and looked at five categories: GDP growth, net job creation, unemployment rate, budget deficits and performance of the Dow Jones.

The contrast between the performance of the economy under recent Democratic and Republican Presidents is stark. Democratic Presidents dramatically outperformed their GOP counterpart in all five categories. Some examples:

Job Creation – Both President Obama and Clinton witnessed an average rate of job growth over 1 million each year. Neither President Bush was able to come close to that number, coming in at 630,000 and 135,000 per year respectively. The two Democratic Presidents oversaw an annual job growth 2.1 million per year. The two Republicans had a combined annual rate of 300,000, or one seventh the total of the two Democrats. The latest data released shows that the economy created 2.9 million jobs in 2014, which is at a comparable job growth rate to an average year in 1990’s.

Unemployment Rate – The two Democratic Presidents saw on average more than a 3 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate during their Presidencies. The two Republicans saw on average more than a 2 percentage point increase. Each Republican President left office with the country in recession.

Deficits – Both Presidents Obama and Clinton witnessed significant declines in the annual budget deficit on their watch. Both President H.W. and W. Bush saw increases of the annual budget deficit on their watch. The second President Bush came to office with a $100 billion annual surplus. He left office with a $1.4 trillion annual deficit, one of the most dramatic turnarounds of America’s finances in any period in US history.

Stock Market - Under the two Democratic presidents, the stock market soared. The Dow Jones has more than doubled in the Obama era and now is at record highs. Under Bill Clinton it grew four fold. Under the first President Bush the market had a small increase. The Dow was lower when the second President Bush left office than when he arrived.

As we look to 2016 it is important to note that the last two Republican Presidents led the nation into recession and larger annual budget deficits. Both Democratic Presidents had to lead the nation out of recession and saw strong job growth, declining deficits and soaring stock markets on their watch. There is indeed a stark contrast between the performances of the two parties on the economy over the past generation. This contrast will be particularly significant in 2016 if the Presidential contest is between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Update, April 8: With the 2016 Presidential Race kicking off, we have updated some of the data to reflect current trends in unemployment, job growth, and the stock market. Data about GDP and budget deficits have been kept the same since the initial paper, but will be updated in the future. We hope to keep this data up-to-date as it provides a good foundation of areas to compare the two parties moving forward.


Poll Finds Majority Cuban-Americans Support Obama For Cuba Policy

A new poll is out and highlighted in the Miami Herald on how Cuban Americans view the United States efforts to chart a new course on Cuba. 400 Cuban Americans were polled in and English and Spanish on a range of issues, including views on normalizing relations, the continuation of the embargo, and plans to travel to Cuba in the future. The poll finds in part:

  • 51% of Cuban Americans show their support for the Obama Administration's new policy to normalize relations. 40% disagreed with it and 9% did not respond or did not know.
  • The poll highlights generational differences, with more older Cubans supporting a continued trade embargo, while the majority of those under 50 believe it should not continue.
  • Cuban Americans living outside of Florida were much more supportive of President Obama's new policy than those living in the sunshine state.

For on this new data, including reactions by the pollsters and others in this piece from the Miami Herald. Be sure to check out Simon's statement:  "A New Day for the United States and Cuba." 


GOP Playing Risky Games Again with the Debt Ceiling

Fresh off the funding battle over the Department of Homeland Security, GOP Representative Charlie Dent noted to the New York Times: “We really don’t have 218 votes to determine a bathroom break over here on our side. So how are we going to get 218 votes on transportation, or trade, or whatever the issue? We might as well face the political reality of our circumstances and then act accordingly.”

The issue is that there are certain funding that Congress must vote on—and nowhere is that more apparent than with the return of the debt ceiling. On March 16th, according to the Treasury Department, the U.S. reached the limit for the amount of funds it is allowed to spend. As with previous debt ceiling debates, Treasury is able to draw out the period of time before actually defaulting on the national debt through using accounting maneuvers and other extraordinary means. But ultimately, Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling—or risk a default on the debt that will greatly impact the interest rate the US pays on the national debt and harm the full-faith and credit of the United States.

Following the 2014 election, Senate Majority Leader McConnell promised an end to governing-by-crisis. And despite the theatrics around the Department of Homeland Security, there was no shutdown and the Senate handled the dispute with relatively few fireworks. The problem with the debt ceiling is that even approaching it becomes dangerous. In 2011, despite not defaulting on the national debt, consumer confidence dove dramatically as businesses and Americans anticipated disaster. The debt ceiling was first hit in May—and the crisis peaked in August. It would take 6 months to return to neutral ground, and longer to steady growth in confidence.

Since then, Congress has submitted the U.S. economy to additional funding stand-offs: the fiscal cliff on taxes following President Obama’s re-election, a second debt ceiling fight in early 2013, the government shutdown over the ACA in 2014, and the standoff over the Department of Homeland Security. As the Times notes, this spring will bring additional conflict over the expirations of the Highway Trust Fund, the Expert-Import Bank, and the return of the Sequester—alongside the disagreements that are already occurring in Congress between fiscal conservatives and defense hawks in the 2015 FY budget.

Senator McConnell has argued that the process itself will play out over the next couple of months, but what Dent’s quote highlights is the difficulty, particularly in the House to pass any legislation regardless of necessity. Congressional Leaders should return to their previous tactics for using the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip as the risk is way too great. Unfortunately, the last few months have only shown that the contrast between how the Democrats and Republicans run government exists not only in the Presidency in Congress as well—the lack of focus on jobs growth, sound fiscal policy, and governing by crisis all impacts how well Americans perceive the economy as well as the political system.

At a time when Americans are “turning a page” on the U.S. economy, there is no need to return to a dangerous round of governing by crisis.

States Asked To Be Released from Texas Judge's Immigration Injunction - Why It Matters

Something potentially very significant happened last night in the ongoing debate over the President’s recent immigration reforms: 14 states asked a higher court to release them from the Texas judge’s injunction that is preventing DAPA and DACA expansion from proceeding.

This is important for whatever the merits of the case brought by Texas and 25 states that led to the injunction, that the injunction was applied to 24 states who did not join the suit and do not believe they were harmed by the President’s seems to be a clear and unsustainable overreach by Judge Hanen of Texas.   

As the case moves to the 5th circuit, it is important to note that there at least two separate legal tracks emerging.   As I’ve written elsewhere, the core of Judge Hanen’s decision was legally weak and is likely to be overturned.   That process could take months.   But on the question of whether to release the 24 states who have claimed harm and did not join the current suit, that decision could come much sooner as there simply is no legal basis to block the implementation of the President’s reform in these states who want the reforms to take place. 

This also means that this debate will start to move to the political realm.   Will for example, the GOP’s new US Senate candidate in California, Rocky Chavez, support his state’s call to be released from the injunction or does he support Judge Hanen’s decision? And what about in Iowa, a state who has been asked to be released?  Will the 2016 GOPers publically challenge this decision?  Will prominent GOPers in the 14 states who have filed an amicus brief come out in support of their state or will they oppose?   Lots of fun ahead.

But as I’ve said, I am confident the President will win in the courts and his reforms will be implemented this year.   What may happen sooner, however, is that the 5th circuit may release some states from the injunction, allowing these reforms to begin to be implemented soon, perhaps as early as this spring. 

Some additional background:

 "DOJ asks Appeals Court to Lift Order Blocking Immigration Programs," Elise Foley, Huffington Post, March 12, 2015. 

"Battle Over Obama Actions on Deportations Suddenly Heats Up," Greg Sargent, Washington Post, March 12, 2015.

"California Can Upend Texas Immigration Case," Francis Wilkinson, Bloomberg View, February 26, 2015.


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