Hispanics are already Republicans, but the GOP can’t seem to tell them

In 1984, Lionel Sosa told President Reagan that it would be a heavy lift for him to increase his share of the Latino vote. Reagan rebuffed, “Hispanics are already Republicans, they just don’t know it yet.”

latino voteReagan won 40 percent of the Latino vote. President George W. Bush similarly said, “Hispanics are natural Republicans.” In his 2004 re-election bid, he increased his Latino vote share to 44 percent. The latest poll from Gallup presents the Republican party with a real problem.

Gallup found Obama’s approval rating among Hispanics stands at 70 percent. In the Hispanic community, with the economy contracting and unemployment ticking back up, Obama seems to be defying political gravity. If the Democrats can solidify the Latino vote with the same success as the African-American vote, it is just a matter of time before it is checkmate. So, what can the Republican party offer the Hispanic community to gain their support? What do they really want? Is it freedom and prosperity or government handouts? The best way to answer those questions is to look at Republicans who have been successful at reaching Latino voters.

Seeking a second term as governor of New Mexico, a former red state, Gary Johnson handedly defeated his Democratic opponent. Not only did he win the Latino vote, his Democratic opponent was Latino. Gary Johnson certainly isn’t known for welfare spending. He cut taxes 14 times, proposed the first statewide school voucher system, shifted Medicaid to managed care, and left the state with an estimate $1 billion dollar budget surplus.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is even more popular among Hispanics than his brother was in 2004. In the 2002 gubernatorial race, Jeb overwhelmingly won the Latino vote taking 80 percent of the Cuban vote. He carried the heavily Puerto Rican Osceola area, as did President Bush, which Barack Obama carried twice. Osceola county was pivotal to Obama’s razor thin margin of victory over Romney in Florida.

Looking back at the 2012 Republican National Convention can give the party a good deal of insight about the GOP’s Hispanic challenge. Governor Jeb Bush came under fire from the right when he said at the convention, “The future of our party is to reach out consistently to have a tone that is open and hospitable to people who share our values. The conservative cause would be the governing philosophy as far as the eye could see…and that’s doable if we just stop acting stupid.”

Governor Martinez of New Mexico told a panel covering the convention that the issues important to Hispanic voters are “no different” than other Republican voters. She said, “The problem is Republicans too often assume they won’t win their vote, so they don’t visit those voters.” This is a huge problem with the party’s strategy toward minorities in general.

Many of you I am sure know Crystal Wright. She is a conservative activist blogger who runs the website www.conservativeblackchick.com. After the party approached her last election with the idea of putting together a minority outreach campaign, she went to work putting together a plan comparable to Democratic efforts. Unfortunately, without warning, the RNC pulled the rug out from underneath her essentially writing off the minority vote. So much for even attempting to give it the good old college try.

More recently, Governor Bobby Jindal was also met with criticism after he said that the GOP needs to “stop being the party of stupid.” It seems to me the party has a choice. We can puff up our feathers every time we hear something that may resemble completely warranted criticism that is becoming more of a theme, or, we can take it as constructive common sense.

Richard Baris is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @RichBaris

Richard Baris is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @RichBaris

During the convention, although nobody cared to listen at the time, Gov. Bush laid out four suggestions for the party leaders to consider. After the last election shellacking, Perhaps it is time to follow those suggestions.

  1. Recognize that Hispanics are not a “monochromatic community but, rather, a deeply diverse one.”
  2. “Echo the aspirations of these voters” and stress that the GOP is the “party of the family business,” because this is “the economic heart of Hispanic communities.”
  3. Overhaul the education system. This is huge factor in Jeb Bush’s immense popularity among Latino communities in Florida. Gov. Sandoval also stressed this point saying it is, “all about education.”
  4. Change the tone, and retool the immigration debate as “an economic issue, not just a border security issue.”          

The only word out of Gov. Bush’s and Gov. Jindal’s mouths, that many in the party seemed to hear, was “stupid.” The larger point that they were trying to make was that we need to start talking like adults to the voters. All voters. That is why Reagan won 40 percent, Bush won 44 percent, Johnson defeated his Latino opponent, and so on.

Of course, there are career welfare Hispanic voters. But that is true among every demographic group, including many in the white population. The principles of freedom, prosperity, and opportunity resonate within all human beings. Naturally, it has to be communicated properly. Unfortunately, because of the combination of tone and poor candidates, the GOP has been unable to do just that.

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  1. I completely agree. The real question is specifically how to do it? The message must be smart and effective. We can all hope that economic pressure will force minorities to find an alternative, but we must be vocal and effective in presenting that alternative. Enjoyed this column.

    • richardbaris says:

      Well, for starters we have to engage. Todd I know so many Hispanic friends and in-laws that would have voted for Romney if it simply wasn’t for the tone. We sound racist, period. Even if we aren’t, and of course we are not but, they wouldn’t know that. They were never called, contacted by email, or had their doors knocked on in any way shape or form. Obama, however, was all over them. About five years ago, I heard Romney speak at an education event, and he was so clear that he was concerned about Hispanics and the need for us to reach them. Unfortunately, we cannot get a man through a primary unless he swings so far right on issues that we isolate taxpaying Americans. Why does that have to be like that? Why does the militant wing of the party, such as Sara’s Twitter wars on abortion, have to dictate the party platform? Apparently, they don’t even show up to vote. Even the polls show that voting Latinos do not like illegal immigration. But the tone is such, that it sounds like we are not anit-illegal immigration we are anti-Hispanic. Being the party of natural law and natural rights, that is both hypocritical and sad.

  2. richardbaris says:

    Reblogged this on Richard D. Baris.


  1. […] Hispanics are already Republicans, but the GOP can’t seem to tell them […]

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