Hispanics are three times more likely to identify as affiliated with the Democratic Party than with the Republican Party. Half of Hispanics identify with the Democratic Party (50%), compared to 15% who identify with the Republican Party. Roughly 1-in-4 (24%) Hispanics say they are politically independent.
When asked to provide top-of-mind associations of the Republican Party and Democratic Party, Hispanics offer significantly more negative comments about the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Nearly half (48%) of the associations Hispanics volunteered about the Republican Party were negative, about 4-in-10 (42%) were basically descriptive or neutral, and about 1-in-10 (11%) were positive. By contrast, more than one-third (35%) of the associations Hispanics volunteered about the Democratic Party were positive, 42% were basically neutral or descriptive, and 22% were negative.
The Democratic Party has a significant perception advantage over the Republican Party across a range of attributes. For example, 43% of Hispanics say the phrase “cares about people like you” better describes the Democratic Party, compared to 12% who say it better describes the Republican Party. Notably, about 3-in-10 (29%) say the phrase describes neither party, and 13% say it describes both parties.
Less than 3-in-10 (29%) Hispanics report that they feel closer to the Republican Party than they did in the past, while nearly two-thirds (63%) of Hispanics say the same about the Democratic Party.
At this very early stage in the 2014 election cycle, Hispanic likely voters report preferring Democratic congressional candidates to Republican congressional candidates by a 2-to-1 ratio (58% vs. 28%). Among likely Hispanic voters, a majority (54%) say they would be less likely to support a candidate who opposes immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants who are currently living in the country illegally. One-in-four (25%) say they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate, and 19% report that the candidate’s views on immigration would make no difference in their vote
Next year’s crop of Republican congressional hopefuls includes Carl DeMaio, an openly gay former city councilman who is running for a seat in urban San Diego. There is Elise Stefanik, a 29-year-old former George W. Bush aide who is trying to topple a Democratic incumbent in upstate New York. In South Florida, Carlos Curbelo, a school board member and former congressional aide, is running in a district where Hispanics make up a majority of voters.
It’s unlikely that the GOP’s group of 2014 candidates will be anywhere near as diverse as the one their Democratic opponents will field. But, for the GOP — eager to modernize its image as a party dominated by white men — there’s little doubt that it represents an improvement from previous, more homogenous, recruitment classes.
The Cook Political Report currently lists 40 competitive congressional districts where a Republican incumbent is not seeking reelection. In at least 10 of those races, a female, minority or openly gay GOP candidate is waging a credible campaign. And Republicans say that, as candidate recruitment season comes to a close early next year, they expect those numbers to grow.
The GOP’s membership in Congress has reinforced its image as a party dominated by white males. According to David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the Cook Political Report, 206 of the 232 members who compose the House Republican Conference — 89 percent — are white men. That’s in stark contrast to House Democrats, of whom a majority are, for the first time in history, nonwhite men.