How Will the GOP Replace Hispanic Votes?

In much of the talk about Republicans and Hispanic voters, attention has focused on long-term trends that seem to suggest that looming demographic changes within the electorate, particularly the relative growth in minority populations within the country, spell real trouble for the Grand Old Party. But could the Republicans' problems in this area be significantly more immediate than that?

Today The Washington Post's Perry Bacon Jr. takes a look at the refusal of the leading Republican presidential candidates to participate in forums aimed at reaching African-Americans and Hispanics, two groups that tend to overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates but which nonetheless do deliver at least some portion of their vote to the GOP. Along with it a couple choice quote from leading 1990s Republicans

"We sound like we don't want immigration; we sound like we don't want black people to vote for us," said former congressman Jack Kemp (N.Y.), who was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996. "What are we going to do -- meet in a country club in the suburbs one day? If we're going to be competitive with people of color, we've got to ask them for their vote."

[...]

"For Republicans to consistently refuse to engage in front of an African American or Latino audience is an enormous error," said former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), who has not yet ruled out a White House run himself. "I hope they will reverse their decision and change their schedules. I see no excuse -- this thing has been planned for months, these candidates have known about it for months. It's just fundamentally wrong. Any of them who give you that scheduling-conflict answer are disingenuous. That's baloney."

The folks at NBC's First Read looked at this article and raised an important question:

George W. Bush grabbing approximately 40% of the Latino vote was key to him narrowly winning re-election in 2004. Can any of the GOP candidates -- besides McCain -- match that number in 2008? If not, how do they make up for those lost votes?

In a sense, I don't buy all of the premises of the question. First and foremost, it's not at all clear to me that John McCain, who has gone back on his support for a sensible reform to American immigration policy in the hopes of having a shot at winning his party's presidential nomination, would have such a great chance at matching George W. Bush's share of the Hispanic vote. More broadly, I don't think the question today should even necessarily be if any Republican will be able to match George W. Bush's 40 percent but rather if any Republican will be able to match the already paltry 30 percent of the Hispanic vote that the party secured in the 2006 midterms.

That said, it's a question very much worth asking. And given that the leading Republican candidates have not only not reached out to these communities but they have also done much to alienate them with their rhetoric and actions, it's also worth asking how the eventual GOP nominee is going to make up those lost votes. His he going to turn out more white Evangelical males? Millions of them? Is he somehow going to convince single women that the GOP's policies aren't antithetical to their interests and beliefs? Will the GOP redouble its efforts to suppress the votes of the constituencies that traditionally back Democrats? And even if all of that happens, will it be enough? I'm no Republican strategist, but I'm not sure the answer to the fundamental question -- whether there are enough votes out there to make up for their foregone support -- is one they're going to want to hear.

Tags: 2008, Hispanic Voters, Hispanics, Republican Party (all tags)

Comments

17 Comments

Don't forget APA's

I would just like to add that Asian Americans have been trending Democratic, too, reaching upwards of 60% from 30% when Bush I was running. In fact, APA's were the only group which Junior lost ground from 2000 to 20004.

by exLogCabin 2007-09-19 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't forget Arab-Americans

I think he lost Arab-Americans as well. In Michigan there are enough to matter, maybe in Ohio too, otherwise widely dispersed. But by and large they are not fans of George W Bush, his war, or his Repub party any more.

At first glance it might seem strange to find the Arab-Americans finding a home in the same party as Jewish-Americans. But on reflection, surely both groups favor peace in the Middle East, while obviously Bush and the Repubs do not.

by Woody 2007-09-19 12:27PM | 0 recs
How insane are GOP frontrunners?

So insane that they are making nuts like Brownback and Hunter look rational and sane.

What are these guys thinking?  Whatever it is it is good for Democrats.

Are they so overly ambitious and so crazed that they can't even make sense of reality.  Do they really think there are enough voters with a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other, who want to see us bomb brown people back to the stone ages, to get them elected?   How do they really think they can ignore and insult African Americans and Hispanics and still squeeze out a victory?

by dpANDREWS 2007-09-19 08:32AM | 0 recs
Enforcement first

I dunno. Enforcement first immigration policy polls at like 65-70%. I know you can lose some hispanic votes...but the issue is a winner overall. Why do you think all of those Democrats in red states (and populist democrats who understand that illegal immigration kills low wage workers) voted against the grand compromise?

by wahoopaul 2007-09-19 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: How Will the GOP Replace Hispanic Votes?

"If we're going to be competitive with people of color, we've got to ask them for their vote."

And make sure you refer to them as "people of color" when you ask them to vote for you. I would love to see how that goes...

by freaktown 2007-09-19 09:00AM | 0 recs
And look at our potential nominees

Hillary is a known-quantity with strong African American and Hispanic support.

Obama and Richardson are going to garner significant support.

Edwards won't do badly.

If Obama or Richardson are on the ticket in any way, its not just about replacing votes, its about matching near maximum turnout in one or both communities.

And I have said this before:
I don't think we KNOW what the full impact of Obama or Richardson being at the top of the ticket would be-

Downticket... how many near majority African American and Hispanic districts would go over the top and push Dems in State Legislatures and Congress.

Are there states suddenly in play (Arizona, South Carolina, even Mississippi and Alabama) that weren't?  I don't think we'll know until election day.  

If voter suppression efforts target minorities seeking to cast their vote for President for an African American or Latino candidate, how will voters react?  Because I think people will feel differently being cheated out of their chance to vote for Obama vs. Kerry.

And if the GOP handles this situation as poorly as we expect them to- will this be the kind of generational shift we saw in 1932 where a 25 year block of voters is locked in for the Democratic party?

by jgkojak 2007-09-19 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: How Will the GOP Replace Hispanic Votes?
The Republicans have made their bed by dissing non-white makes and now they have to sleep in it.
I wish Kemp, Gingrich and the GOP's press room concubines would admit it. After all,they're part of the problem
by spirowasright 2007-09-19 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: How Will the GOP Replace Hispanic Votes?

Of course the answer is Republicans will attempt to drive down the number of Latino voters through suppression, intimidation, and baiting Democratic politicians to echo right wing talking points on immigration so that voters get disgusted and stay home.

by Colorado Luis 2007-09-19 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: How Will the GOP Replace Hispanic Votes?

We are ending a 25 year cycle of Republican Rule.  When the Republicans first came into power they were populists.  They appealed to American's love of individuality and flag waving moral superiority. Now at the end of a quarter of a century we find that Republicans are either narrow minded gun toting right wingers or the party that appeals to the richest 1%.  Their values are hypocritical in light of the many scandals which have dogged them recently and we have realized that they hate government because they can't govern.  

It is now time for the Democrats because the American people understand that government can be used to help people and that all our problems cannot be solved with bombs and tanks.  We must remember however, that we lost power because we were too arrogant and had a litmus test for Americans.  If you were anti-abortion, pro-family, pro-gun, etc. you couldn't be in our party.  If we bring people together despite our differences we can last longer than our 25 year cycle.  If not, out will come the individualistic populists who hate government to take over.  The clock starts now.  

by changehorses08 2007-09-19 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: How Will the GOP Replace Hispanic Votes?

It is now the Democrats' time, whether they follow everything the blogger demand or not.

by spirowasright 2007-09-19 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: How Will the GOP Replace Hispanic Votes?

Its our time but how long that time last depends on us Dems remembering that its not about us but about this great country.  We need to be humble and listen to the people.  

by changehorses08 2007-09-19 07:16PM | 0 recs
40% is probably exaggerated

I really doubt Bush won 40% in 2004, even though the number is repeated endlessly as if it were gospel truth.  

The exit poll data used to compile that number leaned disproportionately to Cuban-American precincts, relative to the percentage of Hispanic voters who are Cuban-American.

Even so, your point is still valid...there is no way any Republican candidate (even McCain) is going to get the numbers that Bush put up in 2004.  My guess is the Republicans start to heavily target Hispanic precincts with their voter suppression efforts.

by moreaxe 2007-09-19 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: How Will the GOP Replace Hispanic Votes?

I somehow doubt the key idea at the RNC to recoup losses into the Hispanic vote is to gear up larger voter suppression campaigns. Yes, the GOP in many places actively has used semi-legal and illegal tactics to reduce voter turnout, and the RNC and NRSC have turned a 'knowingly blind' eye to it when advantagous. But the idea of a centralized and top coordinated and executed plan of voter supression is getting deep into the tinfoil hat and radio receivers in your fillings territory.

The GOP, despite what many people believe, are not stupid. When it comes to elections, their brutal pragmatism is one of the keys to their being able to take power. Which is why this tactic is so surprisingly narrow sighted. I think it more tells of deep rifts in the fundamental basis of the party, and a desperate attempt to at least hold the core of the GOP base together, even at the temporary loss of the wider but shallower support they built over the years.

There's a second and very real possibility that under the surface, the rumblings are really the start of a purge in the party. The architects of the 1994 'revolution' are still holding a lot of the reins of power, and after 12 years, have led things right off a cliff. One thing the GOP has failed at significantly is creating any new 'stars' in their party; exciting, dynamic candidates and personalities that capture attention. With the upcoming election cycle as dismal in outlook for them as it is, and with a lackluster group of nominees who are almost all on their last or only shot at it, 2008 could be a huge shakeup in terms of the distribution of power within the party.

Nothing loosens the hold on power like repeated failure. The base and the 'coalition' of groups that forms the GOP will look towards people who are perhaps untried, but offer a mandate of change within. Either the GOP has suffered a fairly basic operational meltdown at most levels, or the next generation of leaders within aren't using what they have to prop up their leaders, happy to let them take the reek of disaster and push them aside as a response.

A new, dynamic, young Conservative movement; all the right lipservice about values, but in a 21st context. The GOP should hope desperately that's the case, but it doesn't pay for Democrats to get overconfident either.

by dexf 2007-09-19 10:38AM | 0 recs
APIs

(Asian-Pacific Americans)

This will be the next move.  (In fact the move is already taking place in the Pacific Northwest, where APIs are being occasionally used now as state legislative candidates in races where the odds of victory  are low, but where substantial API communities live.)  There is as much an "immigrant wave" of APIs into this country as there are of Latinos (though much smaller in numbers), and at least a healthy minority of them do wish to believe that, if they are wealthy enough, they will treated as "honorary whites" by the Republicans.

That said, there are also, thankfully, a boatload of smart APIs who realize that many of the anti-immigrant laws being considered are as likely to make life hell for someone's relative that made it off the Chinese mainland in 1948, or away from Vietnam in the early-to-mid 1970s, as much as someone crossing the border from Arizona.

My two bits...

by palamedes 2007-09-19 11:04AM | 0 recs
Republicans Were the Party of Segregation!

The modern Republican party was a permanent minority party as of 1964. By 1980 they were in the majority and have had the Presidency and control of Congress for most of the time ever since, culminating in the 2002-2006 period where they had all three branches of government.

What happened? De-segregation happened. Southern whites abandoned the Democratic party over de-segregation and have never switched back. That solid south combined with northern rural conservatives in places like the mid-west gave them a governing majority -- until now.

But, that "southern strategy" meant that they sold their souls to extreme right-wing values: hate gays, hate immigrants, hate blacks, pro? Extreme deference to authority, whether church or government.

"God, Guns & Guts! The Three G's That Made America Great. Let's Keep All Three!"

They can't "compromise" on immigration because rural America is their base and their base is too ignorant to know that corporations are the ones ripping them off and that it's in their own self-interest to vote for progressives who will terminate NAFTA-like agreements and tax laws that outsource American jobs, rather than blaming the victims, the immigrants who are being exploited.

It's exactly how White elites ruled the south for generations, by pitting poor whites against negroes. So long as they're in the Klan, trying to keep minorities down they're not going to be organizing unions or asking inconvenient questions of their masters.

But, there's simply not a majority of stupid rural red-necks anymore, and their numbers proportionate to the population are in permanent decline.

The Republicans have a tiger by the tail and can't let go. They need the racist anti-immigrant vote, because that's their base, but to appeal to it alienates the majority. They've tried to hold on by using the power of government to disenfranchise minorities through fake "voting fraud" scandals and voter ID requirements and purging the rolls of "criminals." But, it's not enough. More and more the chickens are coming home to roost. They're croaked and going down. And it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch!

by Cugel 2007-09-19 11:54AM | 0 recs
How Will the GOP Replace Hispanic Votes?

The Republicans have a tiger by the tail and can't let go. They need the racist anti-immigrant vote, because that's their base, but to appeal to it alienates the majority.

Yep. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. The Republicans are the defenders of what Bill O'Reilly calls "the traditional white male power structure" in the United States. They sell their message by directing hate and fear: at blacks with Willie Horton, at gays in the 2004 election, and - in the 2008 election - at Latinos.

They have painted themselves into a corner and 21st century demographics are pushing them deeper and deeper into that corner. The problem is that they have so effectively sold the politics of hate and fear to their base that they can't move out of that corner.

by hwc 2007-09-19 01:06PM | 0 recs
Meta-Gerrymandering

One solution is that they don't replace the voters, they just take gerrymandering to the next level, for example, with the initiative in California to split its electoral votes.

If they loss of Latino votes is concentrated in states they were already going to lose, and they can offset what loses they do suffer with the de facto theft of 20 EVs in California, then who needs them?

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-09-19 05:21PM | 0 recs

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