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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hispanics, Conservatives, and Republicans

A previous post noted that the president did not need an extraordinarily high share of the Hispanic vote to win reelection, and that it would be difficult for the GOP to win that vote. At AEI, Charles Murray casts further doubt on the idea that Hispanics would flock to the GOP if it were not for the issue of immigration.  Using data from the General Social Survey, he finds that they are not necessarily social conservatives:
Latinos aren’t married more than everyone else. Among Latinos ages 30–49, 52 percent are married. Everyone else: 54 percent.
Latinos aren’t more religious than everyone else. Among Latinos, 29 percent attend worship services regularly (nearly once a week or more). Everyone else: 31 percent. Among Latinos, 18 percent not only attend regularly but also say they have a strong affiliation with their religion. Everyone else: 24 percent.
Latinos aren’t more opposed to gay marriage than everyone else. Among Latinos, 44 percent disagree or strongly disagree with the statement that “homosexuals should have the right do marry.” Everyone else: 50 percent.
Latinos are a little more opposed to abortion than everyone else, but not by a landslide. Among Latinos, 12 percent are opposed to abortion under all circumstances. Everyone else: 9 percent. Among Latinos, 21 percent are opposed to all abortion unless the mother’s health is seriously endangered. Everyone else: 14 percent.
Latinos aren’t more conservative than everyone else. Among Latinos, 14 percent describe themselves as “conservative” or “extremely conservative.” Everyone else: 20 percent.
Byron York concludes:
In addition, exit poll information suggests Hispanics voted on a number of issues beyond illegal immigration -- and those issues favored Democrats. A majority of Hispanics who voted Nov. 6 favored keeping Obamacare. A majority favored higher taxes for higher earners. A majority -- two-thirds, in fact -- said abortion should be legal.
None of this is to say the GOP shouldn't seek more Hispanic votes. There are opportunities; for example, Romney made significant inroads among Hispanic voters with college degrees. But the fact is, Republicans had a serious problem with lots of voters, as well as potential voters who didn't go to the polls. The Hispanic vote was just part of it.
Robb Austin offers a more hopeful view, with a concrete suggestion akin to the RNC's old Working Partners program
Hispanics will change their perception of the GOP when they get to know Republicans -- really know them -- and that won't happen until the GOP initiates a "bottom-up" strategy; decentralizing national Republican politics.
To change the perception that exists now, it will take an organized and sustained grassroots effort at the precinct level in key states. It needs to be the goal of the Republican Party that Hispanic and minority voters are as aware of a GOP presence in their community as they are of their local church.
The party should be there, and everywhere, at all times. Voting habits begin with trust, and being a good neighbor is the surest way to gain trust from people in the neighborhood. For practical purposes, this means the GOP should open and staff working local Republican headquarters in the neighborhoods of large Hispanic precincts throughout the country. This would not be an expensive endeavor, nor should it be.
The GOP presence in Hispanic communities should focus on all the things good neighbors are known for, most of which is not political. In a broad sense, this might include volunteering in after-school programs; helping Hispanics with math and English, sponsoring community events, or offering constituent service to Hispanics interfacing with local government.
The aim is not to talk or promote politics year-round but to invest the time necessary to connect and develop personal relationships. Supporting and working for local and state candidates, registering voters, and recruiting volunteers at election time is the purpose of all political parties, and this should be a GOP objective, too.