(Jim Clark) – The new census results are out. Between 2000 and 2010, the Caucasian population increased 1% while the Latino population increased 43%. A recent Associated Press headline read: “Record number of Latinos voted in 2010.” Republicans should take note if they’re interested in remaining a competitive political party.
On April 27, 2011, The Americano ran a piece titled: “The importance of the Latino vote in future elections.” The article analyzed a Pew Hispanic Center study that found that the percentage of Latino voters increased from 5.7% in 2006 to 6.9% in 2010, a majority voting Democrat. But the study also showed Latino support for President Obama falling sharply because of his failed promise to deliver immigration reform and the DREAM Act when Democrats controlled Congress and the White House. Obama’s support is also flagging as news spreads that his administration has deported more Latinos than any before. The Americano also quoted Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Tex) praising historic levels of Hispanic support for Republicans in the 2010 election. “In fact, exit polls showed that 38% of Hispanic voters cast ballots for House Republican candidates,” he said. “This was more than 2006 and 2008 . . . and all five Hispanics elected to Congress were Republicans.” Interestingly The Americano is a subsidiary of Gingrich Publications. Newt doesn’t miss a trick.
More detailed statistical studies have been published by University of Washington Political Science Professor Dr. Matt Barretto. Baretto is co-founder of Latino Decisions, a Seattle think tank supported by Stanford and Cornell Universities as well as several foundations. Latino Decisions breaks data down to the state level, making it more useful for political decision makers.
Dr. Barretto’s March 31, 2011, report: “Where Latino votes will matter in 2012” should be of enormous interest to Republicans. Here he isolates states with competitive races and high percentages of Latino eligible voters. He concludes that the Latino vote is likely to determine election outcomes in New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado. He found that in Nevada 17.3% of eligible voters are Latinos and that there are 101,850 eligible but unregistered Latinos. He concludes, “Campaigns and candidates would be wise to look at the growing pool of Latino eligible voters and invest now in bringing more Latinos into the political system – an investment that will pay off for decades to come.”
Dr. Barretto also tells political decision makers how to reap a Latino vote harvest. In the April 12, 2011, report “Perceptions of party outreach to Latinos key to 2012 vote,” he polled Latino voters to examine the probable effect of how their perceptions of the two major parties are likely to affect their vote.
Nominally 65-70% of Latino voters call themselves Democrats, but only 38% say the Democratic Party welcomes them (although that’s better than the 21% who rate the GOP as welcoming). The data showed that voters’ perceptions of political parties greatly affects the strength of partisan attachment. Among registered Democrats, 65% would vote for Obama and 15% would vote Republican; however, if the Democratic Party was perceived as Latino friendly, the Obama support would jump to 95% and GOP support fall to 1%. Among independent voters, 21% would vote for Obama, but if perceptions of his party were more favorable that figure would jump to 77%. A critical finding was that only 9% of independent Latinos would support an unwelcoming GOP, but 57% would support a Republican Party that welcomes Latinos. These numbers represent huge potential vote swings. Ronald Reagan once said, “Latinos are Republicans . . . they just don’t know it yet.”
Maybe it’s time we told them.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)