Friday, November 17, 2006

Hispanic Vote Made A Big Difference

After the election returns showed Republicans losing big nationwide last week, I predicted that a review of the election outcome would likely turn up a huge drop off in the GOP's support from Hispanics as a major contributing factor to the party's losses--as a direct result of too many in the GOP using immigrant bashing as a wedge issue. Brian Howey picks up on this theme today, noting that Democrats captured about 70% of the Hispanic vote in congressional races compared to the 29% earned by Republicans. In 2004, President Bush captured 44% of the Hispanic vote in his narrow win over Sen. John Kerry (D). Howey thinks the big shift in the Hispanic vote could explain the GOP's losses more than other issues. Howey writes:

Republicans are asking what they did wrong in the 2006 midterms. This is a question with many answers. But few missteps were more foolish - and few will be harder to correct - than those made with Latino voters wrote Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute.

The appointment this week of Cuban-born Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida to chair the Republican National Committee is a good way to make a new start. But the damage done in the last year goes deeper than symbolism, and it will take more than one appointment to undo it.

Though Democrats have been wooing these voters longer and have won the lifetime loyalties of many in the second and third generations, immigrants have been up for grabs - and for more than 10 years now Republicans have been making a hard run at them. That effort was working pretty well. Between 1996 and 2004, Bush and Karl Rove managed to double the percentage of Latinos voting Republican in presidential elections: up from 21% for Bob Dole to a whopping 44% for Bush two years ago.

Other Republicans across the country were making similar inroads. In 2004, Bush advisor Matthew Dowd said that in the years ahead, the GOP would have to keep its share above 40% if it wanted to remain the majority party. But that scenario failed to account for the Republicans who didn't get it - and in the last year or so these naysayers have destroyed everything Bush built.

Republican hard-liners in the House refused to enact the president's immigration reform. They passed a bill making felons of illegal immigrants, not because it was good law but merely to make a political point. They spent recent months demagoguing the immigration issue, first at a series of "field hearings" in their districts and then on the campaign trail, casting newcomers as terrorists and criminals and anyone who seemed to side with them as un-American. The problem was as much about tone as substance - many Latinos are also worried about illegal immigration. But the hard-liners' grandstanding added up, and there was no mistaking the message: Not only illegal immigrants but 30 million Latino voters heard Republicans saying, "We don't like you."

The results were hardly surprising. Last week, Latinos voted 70% to 29% in favor of Democrats. And it could be argued that this shift is what decided the election. According to exit polls, white voters were split more or less evenly between the two parties, with Latinos, Asians and blacks making the difference on election night. In Indiana, U.S. Reps. John Hostettler, Chris Chocola and Mike Sodrel all sided with House hardliners and tried to use the illegal immigration issue. Rep. Chocola is shown talking with a Latino voter after his debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly in Rochester. Chocola ran TV ads splitting with President Bush on the immigration issue. He lost to Donnelly 54-46 percent.

I think Howey hits the nail on the head. Unfortunately for the GOP, I don't think the party leaders fully understand this yet.


Wilson46201 said...

On the radio, shortly before the election, I heard the Sainted Eric D. explain to a caller that we must "triage" the immigrant problem by immediately shutting off the border with Mexico with fences and increased patrols - how to deal with existing immigrants could be dealt with later but with 1/2 to 1 million illegal immigrants per month [sic!] border control was primary. I was astounded at his stated statistics.

Anonymous said...

Here's a shocker, Wilson, and I'm sure you realize it: the election's over. Your lady won.
No more Dickerson slams, OK?

Dead horse, meet Wilson.

Republicans nationally may recognize their prdicament. Here in Indiana, more particularly Marion County, the far-right has seized control of the party. They bash Hispanics, gays, civil libertarians, public schools, get the idea. It's Rove 101.

They do it because it works. They dangle red meat in front of their core voters, and stimulate turnout. I strongly doubt the stated statistics flowed through to this state. If they were true in Indiana, even Chairman Murphy and his minions would have to pay attention.

Wilson46201 said...

I thought it was interesting that Brizzi bought some billboards in Spanish - the Indpls Democrats printed up some Spanish-language generic slate posters. Ads were bought in Spanish-language newspapers too. I wonder if any local politicians bought radio spots in Spanish? In 1998 Carson had some campaign fliers in Spanish - I think they were the first in Central Indiana.

Gary R. Welsh said...

According to the U.S. census data, the Hispanic population in Marion County is just under 6%. I suspect the actual number to be much closer to 10%. The Hispanic share of the voting population is probably only about 3-4% because a fair number within that population group aren't citizens. If McCain-Kennedy had been signed into law, the number of legal Hispanic residents in Marion County would have tripled within a year. Within a few short years, we would probably have about 25,000-30,000 Hispanic voters in the county instead of the 6,000 we probably have now.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for LEGAL immigration. I'm of German ancestry. [hold your German war humor I've heard it all] My ancestors came here LEGALLY and went thru the process at the time to become legal citizens. It's the sneaking across the border and obtaining false documents that's the issue here. Not coming across and going thru the process just like everyone else has done in the past 230+ years.

And those stats - were not for the state but nationwide. Though Tokyo Rose can't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Anonymous said...


Rest assured that your ancestors, had they been just across a river, or even in the same hemisphere, would have undoubtedly attempted to enter the United Sates any way they could have -- including illegally by crossing the desert South West under cover of darkness.

Your ancestors were presumably white; however, the fact is that people of all races and nationalities long to come to the United States -- just like your white ancestors did, and will do so however they can.

Bigots and racists all across our country are fond of saying everything would be fine only if these 'illegals' had just done it, as you say, "LEGALLY".

These bigots say it's not racism that upsets them about these brown-skinned folks, but rather that they 'broke the law'. And since they broke the law when they crossed our boarder, they're bad people and must uproot their families and leave the USA.

The only law they broke was coming here to work hard and do the jobs that fat and lazy white Americans won't do.

I'm confident you've broken plenty of laws yourself, sir. Did you ever get a speeding ticket? Illegally park your car? Drive on an accidentally expired drivers license? Drive slightly inebriated? Would having broken any of those laws disqualified you from staying here if you'd crossed over illegally and worked hard to build a life for your family, by becoming a responsible and hard working citizen?

You say send em back -- because the only law they broke was crossing our boarder illegally. And you wonder why Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for a party that did not scare them, like your's has.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Sir Hailstone, The immigration laws your ancestors were subjected to was quite different than the laws today. Essentially, you came to the U.S. (without prior approval of a visa) and stayed here for a certain period of time and were granted U.S. citizenship. As to the illegals from Mexico, our own government basically waved them in and made conditions hospitable for their entry as an appeasement to U.S. employers. As an immigration attorney, I can assure you that some of our most prominent employers in this state knowingly and willingly employ illegal aliens. They do so without any fear of retribution from our government. Please don't blame the people who took advantage of these circumstances. If the government had been serious about illegal immigration from Mexico, it would not have occurred in the first instance.

Wilson46201 said...

btw, please cut out the "Tokyo Rose" crap - calling gay men with feminine names in a hostile manner is so out of it anymore - civilized and decent folk dont do it.

Anonymous said...

Also, Blue collar worker came back ot the Democrats for the first time since 2002.

Anonymous said...

First off, this constant carping in which a few of you engage on this blog is soooo juvenile and, most damning, BORING!!!!

To my point: In the U.S., political parties that have set themselves against some segment of the population, that have been grounded on the narrowing of the scope of American rights, have ended up on history's dustheap, where they belong. This is where the GOP is headed. As an ex-Republican, I think this is sad, but totally deserved. I hope what will result will be a new movement of pragmatic, centerist conservatives advocating smaller government, social justice and equality, muscular but humble foreign policy, and fealty to the Constitution. That's the role the GOP is supposed to play in the needed tension of American politics, but it has failed.

Anonymous said...

What a great thing it would have been if the government had actually come down on the employers that had to close shop on the day the illegal immigrants had their shutdown. If you want to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, you do it by punishing the people who are encouraging them to come here with an opportunity for a better life, not by merely punishing those who take advantage of the opportunity. It is so hypocritical that nothing was done to all the companies that shut down during that walk-out. Investigations potentially resulting in fines, at a minimum, would have been appropriate.