Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The GOP and their struggle to get Hispanics to like them

 While the GOP continues searching its soul for reasons why they lost in 2012, they are beginning to realize that If the GOP  ignores Hispanic views on issues and continues expressing hostile attitudes toward Hispanics,  the party will continue its march toward minority party status like lemmings trekking to the sea. 
 Louisiana Governor  Bobby Jindal of Asian descent   commented  to the Republican National Committee last month regarding the GOP attitude to people of color .  The first step in getting the voters to like you is to demonstrate that you like them.”, he said.
How to get Hispanics to like them is a major  challenge for the  GOP..  A  December 2011 survey, conducted by  Latino Decisions found forty-six percent of Latino voters said Republicans "don't care too much" about Hispanics, and another 27 percent said they "are being hostile,". It should have been no surprise that 71% of the Latino vote went to Obama in 2012,  a major factor in  Obama’s  victory.. With growth of  the Hispanic population projected to be able to swing Texas elections by 2018, that state could turn blue soon, duplicating  the 2012 results in  Florida, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico. .
Those  Republicans who understood that  have joined Democrats in the US senate to propose a comprehensive immigration bill.  Those who have  not, especially in the House, are still old school…  objecting to the clause giving Hispanics a path to citizenship they call “amnesty”.
 In Colorado,  75% of   Hispanics voted for Obama in 2012 (up from 61% in  2008).  The  percentage of Hispanic   vote in the state had increased from   13% in 2008 to 14% in 2012.  Heavily   Democratic leaning  Hispanics   helped swing the state blue  in the Senate, Presidential,  state legislature and  governor’s races over  the last four years.  Why did Hispanics in Colorado vote even more strongly for Obama in 2012  than they did in the national average and  even  in past years?    Motivation  was  often the   GOP messaging  itself….both at the national level and  especially at the state level.  
Mitt  Romney  added to the alienation. His  policy to solve the 11 million undocumented workers in the US was “self deportation”, with an interpretation held by  Hispanics s GOP government   would make conditions so tough,  the undocumented would want to return to Mexico.   When he said he would overturn President’s executive order which helped Dreamers stay in the US, get a job,  and go to college without getting deported, he hit an even rawer nerve. (Dreamers are hoping to be   college students, undocumented ,   brought as children to the US , who have graduated from US  high schools).
 The GOP also misread the polls when they  concluded Latinos cared more about education, health  care, economy and jobs than immigration, but they falsely  assumed  that meant  conservative solutions  would  also appeal   to them.    Exit polls showed the opposite; Hispanics liked Democratic approaches on those issue  more than the Republican positions.  Even conservative social values did not move Hispanics to the GOP.  73% of Catholic Hispanics and 82% non religious Hispanics voted  for Obama.
Immigration policies and education issues intersected in the Dream Act controversy, too., influencing polling outcome  on both of those issues.  Many Colorado Hispanics who  can vote   have relatives who are  Dreamers and/ or they noted the acidic tone of Republicans in opposing the Dream Act in the state legislature and on the campaign trail. Particularly irksome to  Hispanics was the  unity  of GOP  Colorado legislators  against  giving Dreamers in  state tuition or even reduced out of state tuition.  Now that  Democrats  control of both houses of the state legislature,  a bill allowing  Dreamers to be charged  in state college tuition has an excellent chance of passage. Many Colorado  Republican legislators  must have missed Jindal’s memo as they continue  their vehement  opposition.

The above is a version of my column that appeared in the Sky Hi Daily News today

Also posted today, an excellent piece by Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli on public opinions of immigration reform:

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