William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






THE HISPANIC VOTE – AT 9:28 A.M. ET:   You're hearing substantial talk about the Hispanic vote.  Indeed, some pundits, even before the election, predicted that the GOP would wake up Wednesday morning with a Hispanic hangover, and they were right.

It's now estimated that Obama received approximately 70% of the Hispanic vote.  Hispanics are the nation's largest-growing group.  That is a staggering blow to the Republicans.  Had the Hispanic vote divided even 50-50, Romney would have run about even with Obama, and might even have won.

The political statisticians have ticked off blacks, Hispanics, unmarried women, and the young as the main ingredients of the Obama coalition.  They're right.  The gap between married and single women was about 20%.  About 95% of blacks voted, we believe, for Obama.  The youth vote was lopsided, but not by the same degree that it was in 2008.

It is Hispanics who are receiving the most attention.  There is a belief that the Hispanic community is inherently conservative, and therefore ripe for the GOP.  If only, say the "experts," the Republicans had gone easier on illegal immigration.

But is that true?  Before we jump, let's examine the subject, not the clichés.  Heather MacDonald is a researcher at the conservative Manhattan Institute, and a leading conservative writer.  Her research is solid.  She dissents from the "immigration" argument.  From NRO: 

The call for Republicans to discard their opposition to immigration amnesty will grow deafening in the wake of President Obama’s victory. Hispanics supported Obama by a margin of nearly 75 percent to 25 percent, and may have provided important margins in some swing states. If only Republicans relented on their Neanderthal views regarding the immigration rule of law, the message will run, they would release the inner Republican waiting to emerge in the Hispanic population.

If Republicans want to change their stance on immigration, they should do so on the merits, not out of a belief that only immigration policy stands between them and a Republican Hispanic majority. It is not immigration policy that creates the strong bond between Hispanics and the Democratic party, but the core Democratic principles of a more generous safety net, strong government intervention in the economy, and progressive taxation. Hispanics will prove to be even more decisive in the victory of Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, which raised upper-income taxes and the sales tax, than in the Obama election.

And California is the wave of the future. A March 2011 poll by Moore Information found that Republican economic policies were a stronger turn-off for Hispanic voters in California than Republican positions on illegal immigration. Twenty-nine percent of Hispanic voters were suspicious of the Republican party on class-warfare grounds — “it favors only the rich”; “Republicans are selfish and out for themselves”; “Republicans don’t represent the average person”– compared with 7 percent who objected to Republican immigration stances.

I spoke last year with John Echeveste, founder of the oldest Latino marketing firm in southern California, about Hispanic politics. “What Republicans mean by ‘family values’ and what Hispanics mean are two completely different things,” he said. “We are a very compassionate people, we care about other people and understand that government has a role to play in helping people.”

COMMENT:  I would read the entire article closely.  Please remember that many first-generation Hispanics come from societies where "rich" is equated with "corrupt" and even "criminal."  Immigration reform won't do it if Republicans hope to attract Hispanics.  Republicans must learn to understand Hispanic culture, which is remarkably similar to other immigrant cultures. 

It is often said that Hispanics are the first at the recruiting station in time of war.  Go back and look at World War II movies made during the war.  There was almost always a Hispanic character in a typical rifle platoon or naval crew.  There is a long Hispanic-American tradition, and I fear we've turned that tradition into a series of clichés about immigration that can easily backfire.  Get the facts first, then move politically.

November 8, 2012