Ernesto Alas is obsessed with politics. He voted for President Bush twice, and he loved the president's support for legalizing millions of immigrant workers.So the way the Republican Party can secure Latino voters like Mr. Alas is to run a border-state governor with Mexican relatives who sincerely tries to speak Spanish, and is willing to open the borders. Otherwise, no dice.
When hundreds of thousands of Hispanics marched in the streets nationwide two years ago, Alas was there in Washington, D.C., with his wife and four children. He proudly held the flag of El Salvador, the country he left 25 years ago.
But by September 2006, Alas felt frustrated. The rallies were fizzling. Congress was blocking President Bush's immigration efforts. Mid-term elections loomed.
Fallout From The Immigration DebateAlas' political wanderings reflect the Hispanic community's shifting political views. In 2004, President Bush made huge inroads and won 40 percent of the Latino vote. This year, this fastest-growing part of the electorate is swinging heavily back to the Democrats—in part, over the fallout from the increasingly polarized immigration debate.
Many Hispanic voters were pushed in 2006 by a slew of Republican campaign ads targeting illegal immigrants. One ad in Rhode Island linked the use of Mexican consular ID cards to terrorism. ['Bush Hispanics' Say Goodbye To GOP by Jennifer Ludden,NPR, All Things Considered, July 13, 2008]Â·
That was how George Bush "made huge inroads and won 40 percent of the Latino vote. " And the problem with that is that "40 percent of the vote" is a landslide in the other direction. Also, there are not that many Hispanic voters out there. The growing Hispanic population is mostly illegal, those are legal mostly aren't citizens, and those have achieved citizenship mostly don't bother to vote.
In 2004, Alas was an election officer. He says he was crushed when only a couple dozen eligible voters in his precinct showed up. This time, Alas believes turnout will be far higher, but he's prepared to round up voters and drive them to the polls himself.He may be willing to drive them to the polls, but are they willing to go? Most people who don't vote,Â don't vote for a reason. It's because theyÂ genuinely don't care about politics. In the case of Hispanic immigrants, they don't care because it's not their country. And that's one more reason the GOP does not need to be pursuing the Hispanic vote.