One of the more curious developments in American politics over the last two decades is the political malpractice of Republicans in dealing with Hispanic-Americans. Indeed, it now appears that the 2012 election may well be determined by the share of the Latino vote that Governor Mitt Romney is able to keep from falling into President Barack Obama’s column.
According to the Investor’s Business Daily tracking poll, Hispanics prefer Barack Obama by a greater than 2:1 margin (61% to 29% on October 25). Hispanic-Americans have tilted toward the Democrats for decades, so it is hard to blame the Republican Party’s current predicament on just the political tactics of this year’s campaign.
But unlike the African-American vote since the 1960s, which has remained rock solid Democratic, history indicates that on occasion the GOP has competed for and won a significant share of the Latino vote. Hispanics tend to be family oriented and somewhat entrepreneurial, which should make them potential Republicans.
But deliberate, conscious decisions by Republican leaders focused on the short run gains from immigrant bashing have done severe damage to the long term health of their party. Attacks on immigrants have caused Hispanics to desert the GOP in droves, particularly in the two most recent presidential elections. And, because the Latino population is relatively youthful, if this concern is not dealt with, it may become even more acute for the Republican Party in the years ahead. Among Millennials, America’s youngest adult generation, about one in five is Latino as compared with about one in ten among Baby Boomers and one in twenty among seniors. Among the even younger Pluralist generation (children 10 years old and younger) between a quarter and 30% are Hispanic. Between these two up-and-coming generations, it’s likely that Hispanics will represent nearly 30% of the nation’s population within the next few decades. This suggests that the Republican Party has little hope of winning national elections in the future unless it reverses its current policies to bring them more in alignment with the attitudes and beliefs of this key voter group.
Some have estimated that Ronald Reagan won 37% of the Hispanic vote in his successful 1984 re-election campaign. Since then the presence of Hispanic voters in the electorate has grown by 400%, but the Republican share of their votes has risen above the level at which Latinos supported Reagan only once. That occurred in 2004 when Karl Rove’s strategic focus on Latinos enabled President George W. Bush’s re-election effort to win upwards of 40% of the Hispanic vote. In every other presidential election since 1984, Republicans have struggled to win the votes of even one out of three Hispanics.
Recent data from Pew Research demonstrates that the Hispanic rejection of the GOP was not pre-ordained. Their recent survey showed 70% of Hispanics now identify themselves as Democrats, but that this percentage falls to just 52% among Evangelical Hispanics, a fast growing group whose cultural attitudes are more conservative than those of the overall Hispanic population. In 2004, President Bush actually won a majority of the Hispanic Protestant vote even as his support among Catholic Hispanics failed to improve from his showing in 2000.
Catholic Hispanics, who comprise about 60% of all Latinos, are more likely to vote based on perceived loyalties to their social-economic class than their attitudes on social issues. Bertha Gallegos, who is Catholic, pro-life and the Vice President of the Colorado Society of Hispanic Genealogy, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that researches the state’s Latino history, typifies the attitude among members of her faith toward the Republican Party. “I still don’t get how Hispanics can be Republicans. The only time they’re nice to us is when they want our vote. Republicans work to make the rich richer. They don’t care about the poor.”
Since the virulently anti-immigrant campaign in favor of Proposition 187 in California that attempted to bar immigrant access to basic social services the Republicans have continued to play exactly the wrong tune for Hispanics. In this year’s Republican primary, there was much emphasis on removing undocumented immigrants from American soil through self-deportation or other more draconian means, Republicans have allowed economic resentment and cultural fears to get in the way of positive voter outreach to America’s fastest growing minority population. After all, many Latino legal residents and citizens also have relatives and friends who are undocumented.
Yet studies as far back as the 2000 presidential election have shown that when properly engaged, Hispanics have an open mind on which party deserves their support. Latinos in that election were statistically more likely to support Bush over Gore if they were contacted by Latino rather than Anglo Republicans. Clearly the election in 2010 of Latino Republican governors, Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, suggests that the community remains open to such appeals in the future.
Before such efforts can be successful however, Republicans will have to reverse course on their attitudes toward comprehensive immigration reform, a cause which traces its historical lineage to Ronald Reagan and which was a key part of Karl Rove’s re-election strategy for George W. Bush. Only when the Republican Party’s message changes will their messengers deserve and be able to gain a respectful hearing from America’s Hispanics.
Earlier in the day, I'd appeared on MSNBC - first for a hit on the historic health insurance reform vote, and then for another hit on what was supposed to be health care but ended up turning to the subject of The Tea Party and the, well, partiers. On Saturday, several protesters spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), called Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) a 'ni--er,' and called Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) a "faggot." Charming, no?
It becomes increasingly difficult for The Tea Party Movement (if it is, in fact, a movement, and not a phenomenon - a movement, afterall, has a clear direction) to conceal the blatant racism that motivates many of its members. Sure, every group has a few bad apples or renogade mouth-runners, but Saturday's verbal bombs were part of an ongoing pattern of ugly language more telling than any of the "populist" rhetoric the Tea Partiers rely on.
All of this to say that while sitting in the MSNBC studio, listening to the anchor out of New York through my IFB dedicate much of our segment to a movement that, in reality, is not very large, my brain synapsed to this: we have 200,000 people coming to march in Washington, DC - some who travelled on 16 hour long bus trips- so that they could express their frustration with a broken immigration system in a peaceful and respectful way and we're dedicating our time and energy to talking about people who are straight-up hateful?! What sense does that make? In as much as it's time for the Republican party to denounce the tea partiers, it is time for them to turn their attention to the serious business of joining Democrats in reforming our immigration system. Senator Graham (R-SC) has already stepped up. Who will be next?
The speakers, most notably Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) and Senator Menendez (D-NJ), did a great job of connecting the average American's life - the food we eat, and the garments we wear - to the work and sacrifice of immigrant America. For those of us who are first or second generation Americans, the speeches were heavy with the weight of our debt. We have each come to this wonderful country from somewhere else, and that journey from there to here, buoyed by the strength to leave and begin anew is a powerful reminder of how and why we must continue this push for real reform. The bravery of those who have come before us should remind us, as President Obama did last night, that we as a nation "are still capable of doing great things."
Senator Menendez introduced this video from President Obama. Needless to say, the crowd went wild.
Since our inception, NDN has been making the case that Latino and Millennial votes are critical and often deciding factors in down-ballot races across the country. More recently, Simon has argued both that the GOP faces a long road back to a place of prominence and power - one that will necessitate reaching out to these important constituencies, and that Democrats cannot take the New Democratic Coalition, specifically Latinos and Millennials, for granted.
Both narratives seem to be surfacing widely in the last two weeks. The GOP knows they have a demographic challenge. Now the question is: what will they do about it?
"The numbers don't lie," said Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant. "If Republicans don't do better among Hispanics, we're not going to be talking about how to get Florida back in the Republican column, we're going to be talking about how not to lose Texas."
[M]any in the party have concluded that opposition to immigration legislation, a debate that is sometimes racially charged, has alienated millions of otherwise conservative Hispanic voters...
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who is coordinating some of the party's internal discussions, called the tandem effect of rising Hispanic population and dwindling Republican support an "untenable delta."
Then for the generational question, Kristen Soltis at Daily Caller and E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post tackle the latest Pew Research numbers on Millennial voters.
Soltis argues that the numbers show promise for the GOP, but only if the GOP is ready to invest in young voters. From The Daily Caller:
[A] major study released by the Pew Research Center this week tells a story a year later that will have Republicans breathing a sigh of relief, thankful that young voters have “snapped out of it.” These voters, the Pew report says, are less enthused than in 2008 and have seen a major decline in job approval for President Obama. There are surely some old-school campaign veterans on the right declaring that they knew it all along: the Obama wave was a one-hit wonder.
But don’t break out the champagne just yet.
What Republicans should take from the change in political attitudes among young voters isn’t a sign of victory but rather one of opportunity, a precious second chance to bring young voters into the fold. Young voters once smitten with Obama and his party are now up for grabs, but it will take real effort to change some critical beliefs that can convert Generation O into Generation GOP.
Democrats face disaster this fall and real problems in 2012 if the Millennials become disaffected from politics and if the Republicans continue to erode the Democrats' generational edge.
And what will Democrats do about it? Politicians have a bad habit in midterm elections: They concentrate on older folks, assuming younger voters will stay home on Election Day. This may be rational most of the time, but it is a foolish bet for Democrats and liberals this year. The young helped them rise to power and can just as easily usher them to early retirements. Obama cannot afford to break their hearts.
Part of what we can watch for in the coming months is how both parties engage these important segments of the electorate. This year's outreach efforts will let us know whether Republicans are willing to take the first steps down that long road back, and if Democrats know that they cannot take for granted members of the very coalition that put them back in power.
Hoy surgió una serie de artículos que resaltan la condición tan peligrosa en la que se encuentra el partido Republicano. El partido se encuentra sin una agenda de políticas públicas clara, sin propuestas específicas para resolver los problemas más agravantes, mientras que al mismo tiempo ahuyenta cada vez más sectores de la población con su retórica alarmante y a menudo ofensiva. En Tejas, el Dallas Morning News comenta sobre la elección a Gobernador del estado y estipula que si Kay Bailey-Hutchinson piensa tener alguna probabilidad de ganar la elección, tendrá que ampliar el partido. Siendo que Rick Perry disfruta de mayor apoyo entre la base Republicana, Kay Bailey tendrá que acudir a los grupos y demográficas que se encuentran fuera de su base – principalmente los Hispanos/Latinos. Lástima que se paso casi un año entero en el 2007 presentando enmiendas que lograron derrumbar un acuerdo para reforma migratoria – tema que le importa a muchos Tejanos ciudadanos con familia inmigrante.
En Oklahoma, Ponca City News escribe, “La renuncia del Senador Mel Martínez de Florida cierra el último capítulo en el esfuerzo de la última década por parte del partido Republicano para ganarse a más votantes Hispanos.” Es decir, el partido falló, y hasta le falló a uno de los suyos. Martínez se va, desilusionado con el comportamiento y la retórica de su partido, dejando a los Republicanos sin un solo Senador Hispano, y con sólo tres cubano-americanos en la Cámara Baja. Simon también ha escrito sobre lo que la renuncia de Martínez y la llegada de Sotomayor significa en términos del voto Hispano para los Republicanos.
Por último, un artículo en elWall Street Journalsobre el Censo (y lo que implicará a la hora de redistribuir escaños en el Congreso en base al conteo de personas) alude al tipo de campaña anti-inmigrante y anti-Hispana que podemos esperar de los xenofóbicos y conservadores en el 2010. Por ejemplo, conforme a cálculos del Censo, se espera que Tejas obtenga 4 escaños más de representación en la Cámara baja. Este crecimiento se debe en gran parte a los hispanos, ya que aproximadamente 60% del crecimiento en el estado ocurrió en la comunidad Hispana. Siendo que en estos momentos la mayoría de hispanos se alinean con el partido Demócrata, los Republicanos le temen a que esta demografía sea contada en el Censo. Asi que a ambos partidos: OJO, mucho ojo, para ser un partido viable en el siglo 21, ya no se vale insultar y distanciarse de la “minoría” más grande en este país.
What World Does the Republican Party Live In? (con.) - David Frum, former George W. Bush Speechwriter, was on NPR this morning discussing how the GOP lost its way in 2008 because it misread its challenge as a "moderate-conservative" one, missing the fact that it is actually a "backward-forward" one. On that, we are agreed - the GOP agenda completely collapsed in 2004/2005 and the GOP has refused to develop a new agenda that embraces the 21st century reality of the U.S.
But Mr. Frum contradicted himself during the interview: he alleged that minorities are an important part of the advantage held by Democrats, but that Republicans can essentially give up on the Hispanic vote and still win - his contention is that the group the GOP needs to win back in order to win are college graduates and that, basically, the GOP can do just fine without Latinos because we're all poor and populist: "As populist economically as we need to be to win over this poor group of voters...you'll blow the whole coalition to pieces...because are you going to be the universal state free at the point of consumption health care?" In fact, winning Hispanics is an integral part of moving "forward" and embracing the facts of a 21st century America. Mr. Frum also demonstrates his ignorance of the Hispanic community by continuing the erroneous stereotype promoted by hate groups and Lou Dobbs types that Latinos are all uneducated, poor, a burden to our society, and dependent on big government. In reality Hispanics are the demographic that uses the least amount of government programs (even though many are in fact in the middle or lowest income brackets), with the highest rate of employment, and in many areas they account for economic and labor growth as they are often small business owners. Also, historically Hispanics split pretty evenly between parties and they have never constituted a loyal "base" for either party. Not to mention, "Hispanic" concerns are the same as those of the general population, with some nuances.
Frum's contention is yet another example of the GOP's stubborn denial of the racial reality of the country. Only a few GOP strategists like Roveand Sen. Martinez have attemptedto make their party realize that the United States will be amajority "minority" country by 2042, and that support among Hispanics is keyto its survival. If the GOP intends to exist for the next generation, they had better accept - and embracethe new electoral map. Hispanics have consistently demonstrated their increasing political clout, particularly in this election, when they turned out in record numbers and affected elections in battleground states like Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, etc. Additionally, Hispanics displayed the power in their numbers in non-traditionally "Latino" states because this demographic helped realign this election - i.e., Hispanics helped flip GOP "safe" or deep red states to blue, as was the case in Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana.
Frum's theory is a tough sell - exit polls show that the election was the closest among high school graduates and college drop-outs, while the higher the degree obtained, the more supportive voters were of Obama (53% of college graduates supported Obama, and the number goes up to 58% among those with postgraduate degrees). Frum fails to recognize that race relations and the way Obama reflects and embraces the current U.S. demography was just as important in winning over the intellectual "elite." Millenials and the more educated are increasingly intolerant of intolerance. Additionally, Hispanics are a part of all income and education groups. It should also be noted that voters with higher degrees comprise a smaller percentage of the electorate (only 17% of the electorate has PhDs). Within a few generations (max) the share of Hispanic voters will easily match the 28% of people with a college education who voted in this election.
Another flaw in Frum's argument is that the importance of college grads implies the importance of young adults: 2/3 (or 67%) of all Hispanics who voted in this electionare under the age of 45 - he should think about what that means for the future. Every month, 50,000 Latinos turn 18. Twenty percent of millenials have at least one immigrant parent. The irrefutable fact is that Hispanics - the fastest growing demographic in the United States - will only play an increasingly pivotal role in national politics in the 21st century.
The fact is that the GOP built an entire domestic agenda based on the exploitation of fear, racial and otherwise: whether it was Willie Horton, "welfare queens," "tax and spend liberals," and most recently the issue of illegal- immigration. And GOP leaders are still refusing to accept this fact - as recently as two days ago Mike Huckabee spent a half hour trying to explain his intolerance of certain gay rights toJon Stewart; mind you, theDaily Show audience is precisely Mr. Krum's "target": college educated, about 18-35 years old. Republicans like Mr. Frum have to first recognize what has been their tactic in the past and second, think about what they want their future to look like. If it wants to stay in business, the GOP has to build a Party and coalition suited to the demographic realities of 21st century America.
The ad "war"has become more of a "conquista" in the case of Spanish-language media. The fact is that Sen. Barack Obama has at least two or three times the amount of resources available than that of Sen. McCain to spend on Spanish language media, and he's spent this week making one last big push "en Español." The big news last night was Sen. Obama's half-hour infomercial during which he made "closing arguments" to the American public, and he demonstrates his recognition of Spanish-dominant Hispanics as part of the American fabric by also airing his ad on Univision, Telefutura, and Telemundo - all major Spanish-language networks. Sen. McCain has not put out a Spanish-language ad in weeks, while Obama has had several new ads up every week. Obama's latest ad,"Por Encima"or "Rising Above," caps the most aggressive Spanish language media effort in presidential campaign history. "Por Encima" follows T.V. and radio ads on health care, taxes, immigration, college affordability, early voting and "The American Dream," which features Senator Barack Obama as the first presidential candidate to speak in Spanish for the entirety of a 30-second general election television ad. This is not only a momentous occasion for presidential politics, this is an historic reflection of the importance of the Hispanic community.
Translation of Por Encima (TV ad)
Barack Obama is rising above the negative ads to fight for us - putting forward new ideas to help our families prosper.
- With a plan that makes health care accessible to everyone.
- $4 thousand dollars in tuition earned with community service.
- and three times more tax relief for the middle class. [TESTIMONIAL:]
I think that he is going to be the person that is going to help us. He is my inspiration.
Barack Obama and the Democrats: for the change we need.
[BO:] I´m Barack Obama and I approve this message.
Barack Obama's latest ad is not only in Spanish, but it has Barack Obama speaking in Spanish through the entire ad - not an easy feat. He has a good accent, better than George W. Bush's. And as we saw in the case of then Gov. Bush, the Hispanic community doesn't care so much about a candidate being able to speak perfect Spanish, they care that they try - and I must say, Sen. Obama pulls it off seamlessly here. By contrast, Sen. McCain hasn't so much as tried to learn the "I'm John McCain and I approve this message" tagline in Spanish. This ad is part of something historic. Barack Obama has now spent more than any other presidential candidate in history on Spanish language media. And he is only the third or fourth candidate that I can count that has cared to speak to this demographic in their language of origin. As reported in the documentary, "Latinos 08", Jackie Kennedy filmed a message in Spanish on behalf of her husband when he ran for office, George W. Bush spoke some Spanish here and there, and Howard Dean tried his hand at it as well, but the Obama campaign has spent a record amount of resources on a record amount of Spanish language ads. And it seems to be paying off. According to the latest polls, Barack Obama now holds a 40-50 point lead among Hispanics. This is his second Spanish-language address, the first having been an ad in Puerto Rico during the primaries. Here, he is trying to bond with the Hispanic community by speaking of the "American Dream" that motivated so many of them to come to this country, thus trying to add an emotional connection to the support among Hispanics that seems largely driven by issues and party identification.
And a translation of the ad:
BO: We share a dream, That through hard work your family can succeed.
That if you're sick, you can have access to medical insurance.
That our children can have a quality education, regardless of whether you are rich or poor.
That is the American Dream.
I ask you for your vote, not just for me and the Democrats, but so that you can keep that dream alive for yourself and for your children.
I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.