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GOP needs Latino vote

With Mitt Romney’s share of the popular vote having fallen to a deliciously ironic 47 percent, Republicans have now lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Rather than confront this most recent electoral shellacking, though, Republicans are consoling themselves with the sort of reality-bending rationalizations that convinced them they were headed toward a landslide victory. The latest? That Republicans can head off their demographic apocalypse by winning socially conservative Latinos.

Latinos were one of the few groups to increase their share of the electorate this year, and with their median age just 18 years old for native-borns, and 27 years old including immigrants (it’s 42 years old for non-Hispanic whites), Pew Research estimates that their share of the vote will double by 2030. That is math even Republicans can’t wish away — they realize they won’t win any more national races as long as they’re losing Latinos 71-27 or worse.

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Ironically, Latinos didn’t provide Obama’s margin of victory this year. Romney could’ve won a majority of Latinos everywhere, and only Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico would’ve flipped, giving him just 255 electoral votes. But Obama’s strong Latino support in the Western states provided a pivotal firewall against any Romney surge, particularly during those dreary post-first debate days. And Latinos were certainly the biggest factor in Obama’s outperforming of the polls in Colorado, Nevada and Virginia. Those states were never as close as polling suggested, and they’ll be even less close in 2016 given torrid Latino growth. Heck, it won’t be long before Texas is competitive!

Still, while Republicans are finally figuring this out, their prescriptions are as laughably off-base as their pre-election predictions. Echoing many in his party, Charles Krauthammer claims Republicans can win Latinos because they are a “striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example).”

That’s not what the data shows. While 59 percent of all Americans thought abortion should be legal in most or all cases, according to the 2012 exit polls, that number was 66 percent among Latinos. While 48 percent of all voters favored legalizing same-sex marriages, 59 percent of Latinos did.

On economic matters, Latinos are firm believers in the power of government to make their lives better. Election-eve polling by Latino Decisions found that 66 percent of Latinos think government “should ensure that all people have access to health insurance,” while just 25 percent believe it should be left up to individuals. Why? Because being “pro-family” means making sure ours won’t die from lack of health insurance. Seventy-seven percent want to raise taxes on the wealthy, and they expect the government to help create new jobs.

A post-election survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found Latinos opt 61-37 for investing in education and infrastructure over tax cuts in order to promote economic growth. They’re so “pro-family” that they want theirs educated. And while whites agree by 54-45 that “government is providing too many social services that should be left to religious groups and private charities,” Latinos disagree by a 57-40 margin.

Then there’s immigration, the one issue of importance to Latinos where some Republicans seem willing to shift gears. They have to do something to remain viable! But they’ll have to do much more if they truly want to compete for the Latino vote: They’ll have to stop being hostile to the idea that government can play a constructive and positive role in people’s lives.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com)