Republicans and the Hispanic Vote

It is widely believed that Republicans need to start getting on the right side of Hispanic issues, primarily immigration, or else they will be forever doomed at the Presidential level. They can consolidate and even prosper at the state level and in the House of Representatives, so the theory goes, but the U.S. Senate will be iffy and the Presidency permanently beyond their grasp. Demographics tell the tale.

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Or does it? Some researchers decided to look more closely at the data and found that this conclusion is premature. As is often the case, conventional wisdom is flawed.

They analyzed the 2012 Hispanic vote that split 71/27 for Obama according to the Pew Hispanic Center. And they discovered that Romney would have needed a complete reversal to about 70/30 in his favor to have made a difference. That is because Hispanics congregate in primarily blue congressional districts. The researchers conclude that such a reversal is currently unachievable without losing substantial support from the Republican base and is thus counterproductive as a policy goal. A second significant factor is how important immigration policy ranks amongst voting Hispanics. It comes in a distant fourth behind issues just as important to other voters, like jobs and the economy. Thus going all wobbly on immigration to troll for Hispanic support is not a very likely winner.

It is true that eventually Republicans will need to gain substantial Hispanic support, but not for 2016. And if they win that election, they might be able to solidify a right-leaning Supreme Court for decades to come. On balance that is currently a more achievable target than prematurely beginning their rapprochement dance with the burgeoning Hispanic population. That will be a marvel to watch as they try to eat words and cross the Rio Grande at the same time.

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