As in every recent election, Americans have been barraged with stories about the Hispanic swing vote, and how crucial it is this year. Here are a few recent headlines
As usual, much of the commentary in these articles revolves around how Mitt Romney alienated this crucial demographic by being so tough, allegedly, on illegal immigration. For example, POLITICO’s Romano reports:
[M]ainstream Republicans are … confounded that in an election this close, and with unemployment among Hispanics higher that the national average, Romney managed to alienate a demographic he sorely needs. They point to Romney’s harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric during the primary season….
The one small piece of truth in all these stories: Romney is indeed performing dismally among Hispanic voters. Three recent polls, conducted by Latino Decisions [PDF], NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo [PDF], and CNN find Obama up over Romney by 72 to 20, 71 to 2, and 70-26 respectively. It should be noted that both polls were conducted prior to the debate, so Romney could get a bump among the group. Still, unless something truly dramatic happens, he is on pace to do worse—albeit only marginally—than Amnestiac John McCain’s 67-31% loss among Hispanics in 2008.
The usual advice, implied or explicit: Romney must soften his stance on (illegal) immigration.
And the Romney campaign, nothing if not conventional, seems to already have made this decision. Hence Romney’s decision to honor Obama’s unconstitutional Administrative Amnesty executive order—and also Romney’s craven claim that he had never actually met his informal immigration adviser Kris Kobach.
Yet if Romney really wants to win Hispanics, this is hardly enough. The real solution appears to be that Romney should simply become a liberal.
Thus the NBC News poll asks Hispanics to rank Obama compared to Romney on a variety of issues. And Hispanics do overwhelmingly prefer Obama to Romney on immigration, by a margin of 66-14. However, Hispanics oppose Romney even more on Medicare (72-17) and health care in general (72-14.) The numbers are not much better with taxes (65-19), the Middle East (also 65-19), and the economy in general (61-22).
You could argue that these Hispanic voters are merely blindly partisan, supporting any Obama policy and opposing any Romney policy. (Of course, this means Romney cannot get brownie points by changing his position).
But Hispanic voter preferences do not greatly improve when no candidate is attached to the questions. Thus Latino Decisions asked Hispanic voters whether they thought the solution to Medicare was to “reduce or cap government spending on Medicare by providing a fixed amount of support for each person to buy their own private insurance” or whether instead “the government needs to protect Medicare so health insurance is always there for people over 65, even if it means increasing government spending.” Hispanics chose increasing spending by a 75% to 19% margin.
When Latino Decisions asked Hispanics about SB 1070 upheld by the Supreme Court, they wanted it overturned by a 71%-26% margin. This is far from a majority (and dramatically different from white Americans, 81% of whom supported it.. But it still shows stronger support among Hispanics for SB 1070 than for the Ryan/Romney Medicare plan.
And these Hispanics who overwhelmingly support Barack Obama’s economic policies care much more about the economy than immigration. According to CNN, 44% of Hispanics rank the economy as their top issue, while only 11% prioritize immigration.
The implication of these numbers is pretty obvious:
So the more Hispanics become citizens and vote, the worse things are for the Republicans.
So it will be extremely difficult for Republicans to make inroads with Hispanics—even if they abandon all pretense of supporting immigration control.
This will increase GOP support among white voters, limit the number of future Hispanic Democratic voters, and have a negligible effect on the Republicans’ already-dismal numbers among Hispanics.
In a recent feature on Kris Kobach in the Financial Times, reporter John McDermott gave him the usual Hispanic swing vote tripe. But Kobach responded definitively:
I’m saying [Arizona-style laws] are neutral with respect to Latino voters, and positive with independent voters, blue collar voters.”
[Cookies, crossbows and illegal immigrants, October 10, 2012]
It’s time for Mitt Romney to start consulting his now-denied informal adviser again.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway