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Latinos And The GOP

It looks like Democrats won the Latino vote for Congress by about 2 to 1.  Ruy Teixeira argues that this is in line with the slightly more than 2 to 1 margins that Democrats won among Latinos in the 2006 and 2008 congressional elections.  It is also in line with Obama's 2 to 1 victory over McCain in the 2008 presidential election.  The Democratic margin among Latinos is more disturbing this year than in 2006 and 2008.  In 2006 you had undivided Republican control of the elected branches combined with a Democratic wave connected to public discontent over the Iraq War (and to a lesser degree gas prices.)  In 2008 you had an incredibly unpopular incumbent Republican President, rising unemployment, a financial crisis that the Republican presidential candidate was obviously clueless about, and an excellent Democratic presidential candidate.  This year, the labor market was worse than in 2008, the Democrats were holding undivided power in Washington, Obama wasn't on the ballot, and yet Republicans only made the slightest gains among Latinos.

It is at least possible that a broad majority of Latinos are consolidating around a shared identity as Democrats and that, for most Latinos, the Democrats are becoming the "us" party and Republicans the "them" party.  Obama has tried really hard to appeal to Latinos with an almost constant focus on amnesty, even at the cost of alienating some anti-amnesty whites (betting, probably correctly, that amnesty is a low salience issue for most persuadable whites unless amnesty is just about to be passed.) This consolidating of the Latino vote was what Harry Reid's despicable comment about how he didn't know how anyone  of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican was about.  It seems to have worked out well enough for Reid, but on the other hand, Reid's son was beaten by a Latino Republican in the race for governor - though Sandoval only seems to have done slightly better than Angle among Latinos. 

I don't think that the election of Latino Republicans to prominent offices, or even putting Marco Rubio on the 2012 (or 2016) presidential ticket is going to do much to help Republican bring their share of the Latino vote close to 50%.  I think that Henry Olsen's insights on the working-class (and I would add much of the middle-class) might be the beginning of wisdom here.  Adapting Olsen's insights to the particular situation of working and middle-class Latinos (each an internally diverse category) will be a huge challenge.  It is a good start to think about Olsen's categories of "pride in their lives", "fear of being disrespected", and "hope for the future" and think about how conservative messaging could be better.  It would also be nice to have some policies that offered tangible benefits.     

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 14 Comments

So, Pete, any new prescriptions for twisting ourselves into all kinds of unnatural shapes to appeal to Hispanics?

The only solution is: SHUT DOWN THE BORDER, DAMMIT. That's it. Nothing short of that will work to avoid our long-term demise as a contending philosophy in this country. Soon, our politics will begin to mirror those of Mexico (great news, huh?). The GOP needs to pulls its head out of its nether-region and figure this out, but I don't have much hope.

Redwald, well my policy ideas are linked to right there at the end (same ones as ever - I'm nothing if not mind numbingly consistent), though I'm not aware that I've prescribed any policy twisting. Also, if the border was closed today (which it won't be of course, but even if we were to be only very slightly less unrealistic and assume it was shut sometime in early 2013), the process of cohort replacement and naturalization would still push the size of the Latino electorate into the teens in the coming decade.

That's not an argument for Obama or Bush style amnesty, and certainly not that demography is destiny, but it is a recognition that any center-right, constitutionalist, and limited government politics will have to incorporate a larger fraction of the Latino electorate than it has lately.

"We've tried nothing [or we tried amnesty and family values don't stop at the Rio Grande cliches, and distortions of the housing market], and we're all out of ideas." is only good enough if you don't mind the national Republican Party (and an even a remotely healthy center-right politics) attaining something like the position of the California Republican Party.

I just don't believe any of your policies will overcome the deadweight of identity politics, Pete. We need to focus on immigration "reform" right now and worry about cohorts and natural increase later.

Your suggestions, I think (both here and elsewhere, in reference to the black vote), would lead to a race war.

Same guy, but at least he didn't use "asshole" this time.

You clearly live in a world where it's perfectly OK for every racial/social group to engage in political self-interest EXCEPT non-Hispanic whites.You can take your double-standard and shove it up your culo, compadre.

Redwald, I don't think you will be the cause of any war, racial or otherwise.

I can't think of a more effective way to make sure that the growing Latino vote consolidates by gigantic margins around the Democratic Party than to ignore them except to treat them as a demographic menace.

That doesn't mean not having a border (and internal) security policy or moving to a more skill-based approach to immigration. That is part of a policy package. Those poll well, but they seem to be fairly low salience issues in most places in recent times. It was Republican primary voters who chose John McCain (!) as the party's presidential candidate in 2008. Polls seem to indicate that support for amnesty is also fairly low priority for most Latinos (behind jobs, health care and education.) The solution would be for the GOP to adopt a detailed and well thought out plan for border security, greater skills-based immigration and internal enforcement (as well as Ramesh Ponnuru's idea of being open to an eventual limited amnesty), argue for those policies without hysteria, and then embed that policy in a wider agenda.

I still for the life of me don't understand how trying to win over (some) Latino voters on the basis of shared economic interests and principles holds back the cause of border enforcement.

As I've said many times before, I suspect the family issues are the best wedge to use in separating the Latino vote from the Democratic base. It's not impossible, just difficult. As for economic policies, they are often too "wonky" to overcome identity issues. And you'll NEVER out-pander the democrats on economic issues. Just isn't going to happen, but in trying to do so you MAY trip the identity "switch" of many white voters (particularly working class voters) who feel genuinely threatened by cheap Mexican labor. I know it doesn't seem possible, but white working class voters will vote for a Democratic Party that simultaneously 1) supports amnesty, and 2) champions unions and the white working class. They will do this particularly if they feel the GOP is just a bunch of business people trying to replace them with cheap labor.

Pete, you have to think of unintended consequences. In going after the Latino vote, there are serious "opportunity costs" that must be taken into account. Sticking to family/cultural issues is far safer as a strategy.

Redwald, I'm not sure that economic policies that could plausibly offer more jobs, lower taxes, and lower health care premiums are "pandering" (especially since I'm for those policies for whites, African Americans, Asians Americans and whoever else) and if Democrats can offer more attractive economic policies well let them. Policies are also not too wonky if explained in terms of real world benefits (and the drawbacks of the opposition's polices.) I also don't see how an approach built around a mix of economic and social policies should be any more alienating to white working class voters than an approach built around social issues. I also think there are huge opportunity costs to acquiescing in overwhelming Democratic margins among a significant and growing constituency.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree here. Any economic policy that is so broad-based will not "speak" to Latinos. Identity is like the spice you put on your food -- if the food is bland then the spice is all the more important. Please remember that politics is mostly about emotions and perceived associations (yea, even elections like this midterm). It's the reason Libertarians never get anywhere -- the market just isn't all that exciting as a "Savior of the People." People get motivated by a sense of mission, destiny, and (sadly) fear of status loss. This is something you can bank on, Pete. Politics is not a thorough-going exercise in reason and logic, despite what we might prefer.

Redwald, I don't know why a "broad based" policy )presumably one that offers benefits to Latinos and non-Latinos alike) would not speak to Latinos whereas one built around social issues would. All the polling I've seen indicates that Latino voters rank economic issues higher than social issues (or amnesty.) Maybe the polls are misleading but I don't think it is safe to assume that social issues are more salient than economic issues.

I agree that a "market as savior of the people" platform would be lousy (as well as blasphemous), which is why I was more in favor of policies that would increase take home pay.

Well, Pete, in the spirit of open-mindedness, we are blessed with 50 States -- policy laboratories. We should try your ideas in California, New Mexico and Texas (blue, maroon, and red). See if the % of Hispanics voting for GOP candidates improves as a result.

Redwald, yes! Also on the national level.

The Republicans are so funny, when the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”.

The GOP has went on a nationwide rant in proposing and passing several anti-immigration legislation (that our US Courts continue to strike down) and have continue to blame the immigrant for the flat economy or worse.

Plus the more radical of the GOP are now attacking our Constitution (with all Amendments), and the Declaration of Independence, in their crazy notion of wanting to take away rights that all of us take for granted in their misguided attempt to garner some much needed votes (how is that working), they really are fools, and leading the GOP towards obscurity because they are no longer a party of ideas, just of empty suits.

When most Americans (of Latin America roots) went to the polls this November we all remembered who stood with us, our children, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, our parents and grandparents, in one word our families and who stood against us, so trying to make amends now is somewhat funny, but go ahead, you did not change our minds. Your hate made you do it, and you found out that you reap what you have sown. I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would say about todays GOP, he unlike the current GOP was a man of ideas.

You do that, Benito. Maybe such knee-jerk voting will finally convince Pete that the Hispanic vote is a lost cause.

As for the rest of what you say, it is only a segment of the GOP that benefits from massive legal and illegal immigration (the big establishment/business Republicans), and they are at odds with the rank and file of the conservative movement. So far, they (and the Democrats) have controlled our (lack of) immigration policy, but hopefully this will change as more and more Americans come to their senses.

As for hate, I wonder -- how do you suppose Mexico would view a massive influx of gringos? If Mexico's treatment of Guatemalans, etc. is any indicator, you're a hypocrite. The notion that only white people are capable of racial hatred is a damned lie, but one that is used daily to wrest concessions from hard-working Americans. Enough!

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