The GOP and Hispanics: What the Future Holds

In one of his recent RCP installments (“The GOP and Hispanics: What the Future Holds“), Sean Trende writes:

One of the assumptions lurking behind the immigration debate is that Hispanics spurn Republicans in large part due to identity politics, with immigration as a primary motivator. But there’s usually precious little data offered up to buttress this assumption, aside from the occasional generic poll question of “How important is issue this to you?”

But dig down. When Pew asked Hispanic voters what the most important issue was in 2012, immigration ranked near the bottom of the list. At the top of the list was jobs, just as it was for whites. In the 2008 exits (the last presidential election for which we have full data), a majority of Hispanic respondents told the exit pollsters that they didn’t care much about immigration (regardless of how they ultimately voted), or that they cared a lot (but voted Republican).

In other words, the only people who believe the GOP must “appeal to hispanics” by compromising on the principles of lawful immigration and border enforcement are… the rulers of Conservatism, Inc.

The truth of the matter is that the Hispanic population has gradually been trending toward Republicans over time, especially when you take account of where the country has been as a whole. This makes sense when you consider the socioeconomic tendencies in Hispanic voting, and the improved socioeconomic standing over time…

It may surprise a lot of people, but there’s a substantial minority that sides with immigration hardliners in the GOP. Even the latest Pew poll, which has some reasonably favorable question wordings for the pro-reform side, finds a third of Hispanics support a “control the border first” approach. Substantial minorities — about a third — supported the three controversial California ballot initiatives from the 1990s. Jan Brewer managed to win about a quarter of Hispanic voters in Arizona in 2010; Romney did about as well in 2012.

We pay lip service to the idea that there is no “Latino vote,” but there really isn’t one. It’s an incredibly broad array of voters lumped together for purposes of data analysis.

Democrats and the media push a bogus notion that hispanics are a monolithic voting block (“the hispanic vote”) and that favoring immigration amnesty is the only way for Republicans to ‘appeal to hispanics’.

It’s a road to ruin, and a lie.

Republicans need to stick to principles, truly secure the border, and not allow de facto amnesty… Such strong, principled positions earn respect, and will not only ensure support from whites, but may also build support among blacks and upwardly-mobile hispanics already here.

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