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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

GOP Contenders and Hispanics

Chris Good writes at The Atlantic:
Between 1990 and 2000, the Hispanic population grew by over 57 percent, from 22.4 million to 35.3 million, according to the Census Bureau. In 2010, the population is expected to grow by another 41 percent, to 49.7 million, making up just over 16 percent of the country as a whole (based on Census projections from 2008).

In some ways, this shift has yet to manifest itself politically. Arizona and Texas are still bright red. But in others, it's evident: President Obama won Nevada and New Mexico in 2008 thanks, in part, to Hispanic votes. And in the 2010 midterms, Democrats banked Hispanic votes in Nevada and California on their paths to victory in two Senate elections and one gubernatorial race.

On the whole, Hispanics vote heavily Democratic--an October Pew study found 47 percent see Democrats as more concerned about their views, while just six percent prefer the GOP--but there's some debate as to why. Hispanic voters, advocates will tell you, care about education, jobs, and health care. Pundits often assume that Hispanic votes come down to immigration policy, but immigration politicking probably has more to do with it.

"Border security is completely on the table with the majority of Latino voters, and Latino voters in general--punishing illegal alien smugglers and criminals, and if you go after people who are here who are felons or gang members or something like that--the problem is with the rhetoric, when you start lumping people in with them," Mario Lopez, the conservative president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, told me the day after the 2010 midterms.

Latinos voted 67 percent for Obama nationally in 2008, according to CNN exit polls. That reliably Democratic base is predicted to grow from 12.5 percent of the national population in 2000 to 19.4 percent by 2020.

Ironically, this will hurt Democrats in the short term. As the Hispanic population balloons Texas's Electoral College votes to four, Democrats still have not reached an electoral majority in that state. On Election Night, it's winner-take-all, and new Hispanic voters will inflate the weight given to Texas's Republican majority in the 2012 presidential race. Then again, the Hispanics will likely supply Obama with Electoral College votes from Nevada and New Mexico.
Politico reports:

It was billed, in part, as a forum for the 2012 Republican presidential field to speak directly to Hispanics — a replica of the vaunted Conservative Political Action Conference, but tailored to the fastest-growing slice of the electorate.

Yet, when former Gov. Jeb Bush, former Sen. Norm Coleman and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez open the first Hispanic Leadership Network conference next month in Miami, the only potential presidential candidate confirmed to attend — so far — is Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declined the invite. So did South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Texas Gov Rick Perry.

Newt Gingrich is “amenable” to attending but hasn’t committed yet, his spokesman said.

And others in the group, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, didn’t respond to inquiries from POLITICO.