Amnesty and Pandering Not Key to Hispanic Vote
Last week, Barack Obama told the Des Moines Register that "[s]hould I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community." While the Romney campaign denounced the comments as proof that Obama takes the Hispanic vote for granted, many Republicans have been saying pretty much the same thing. For example, Karl Rove recently told a group of college students in Arkansas that the Republican party is "doomed" if it does not appeal to Hispanics.
According to Rove, Hispanics are "by and large the natural allies of conservatives," but the Republican party has "adopted language that makes them feel unwelcome." Rove went on to suggest that conservatives should support a "guest worker program" with a "path to citizenship" for illegal aliens.
As the election approaches, there are more and more stories that repeat the exact same mantra about how the Republican Party has doomed itself by taking a tough stand on illegal immigration. The Huffington Post ran a story that featured an erstwhile conservative and Republican Hispanic who "has switched her support to President Barack Obama because of his support for legislation known as the DREAM Act." According to the story, this one anecdote is emblematic of the entire Latino electorate "trending sharply Democratic in the wake of increasingly hard-line Republican positions on immigration."
And it is not just left-wing publications like the Huffington Post promoting this line. The Wall Street Journal ran a similar article, where they found Hispanics who will praise the Republicans for having "more respect for life, for family. They are better at running the economy[.]" But these people will not vote for Romney due to his supposedly tough stance on immigration.
There is a grain of truth behind all these accounts. The Hispanic population is growing rapidly, and while many are either too young to vote or non-citizens, the Hispanic electorate has grown and will continue to grow in this country. Moreover, these Hispanics have always voted overwhelmingly Democratic. Thus, no one can deny that the Hispanic electorate represents a growing challenge for the GOP.
However, the assumption that Republicans are losing these votes because of their immigration policies is pure propaganda. While many point to George Bush's supposed 44% of the Hispanic vote, this number has been largely disputed, with many pollsters saying it truly ranged from 33%-38%. None of these accounts mention that in 2004, 47% of Hispanics voted for the anti-illegal immigration initiative Prop 200 in Arizona, which George W. Bush opposed.
John McCain, who was the primary sponsor of massive amnesty in the U.S. Senate campaign, won only 31% of the Hispanic vote. In contrast, in 2010, when congressional Republicans almost across the board ran on tough immigration policies, they won 38% of the Hispanic vote. I am not suggesting that the reason more Hispanics voted for Republicans in 2010 than 2008 was because they supported tougher border control policies, but simply pointing to George Bush's one good year among Hispanics does not prove that supporting amnesty will bring Hispanics into the GOP.
The most comprehensive weekly poll of Hispanic Voters is conducted by Latino Decisions. They sometimes conduct polls in conjunction with left-wing immigration lobbyists such as America's Voice, so it is worth taking the results with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, the polls have shown that Romney is performing poorly among Hispanic voters, with the most recent weekly poll showing Obama winning 70-21 among that demographic group.
However, the polls also show that Hispanics are opposed more to Romney's health care policies than to his immigration policies, and about approximately the same oppose his other economic policies. Moreover, a higher percentage of Hispanic voters support SB 1070 than support Romney. While I am sure there are a few Hispanic voters, such as the ones featured in the Huffington Post and Wall Street Journal, who may support Republican policies except on immigration, by and large, these voters are the exception, not the rule.
Republicans will have to grapple with the Hispanic electorate, but simply supporting amnesty will not solve the problem. We need to convince them to support conservative policies that will help all Americans regardless of their race. But until this happens, what will truly doom the Republican Party is passing an amnesty or increasing legal immigration.