Winning over Latino voters is an uphill battle
December 21, 2012
By Raisa Camargo
The stark reminder that Latinos overwhelmingly opposed the GOP presidential hopeful has pushed some conservative strategists to analyze a pathway to garner support from Latino voters.
The Hispanic Leadership Network, a right-leaning organization and Resurgent Republic—a conservative polling group—released a new survey conducted in the battleground states of Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. The authors believe that if Republicans are able to breach the 40 percent mark among Latino voters then they will be able to elect more conservative Republicans on the federal level.
“One of the questions asked if you would be willing or open to voting for a Republican, if you agreed with them on the issues, shows us that there is a path to getting back to 40 percent and above with the Hispanic community,” said HLN president Jennifer Korn.
Tone alienated Latino voters
The results indicated that Hispanic voters in these states sided with the perception that Republicans do not respect or value the needs and interests of the Hispanic community from 51 to 44 percent in Florida, 54 to 40 percent in New Mexico, 59 to 35 percent in Nevada and 63 to 30 percent in Colorado. The most important issue for the Hispanic community was jobs and the economy followed by education.
The survey polled 400 Latino registered voters in each of the four states between November 28 to December 7.
Immigration was not ranked as the top priority, although it still ranks as an important issue. The poll indicated that an “overwhelming” three-quarters or more of Latino voters support temporary work-visas, an earned legal status and increasing border security. Many pointed that the tone used by the GOP is what alienated Latino voters.
In addition, the survey found that respondents believed the Obama campaign reached out more aggressively to Latino voters than Republicans.
Winning back the Latino vote?
The question was raised on a new strategy for reaching out to Latino voters on the part of the Republican party.
“It’s been a month since the election,” Korn told reporters during a conference call. “The conservatives are absolutely talking about it and they’re talking about what is the strategy forward. That’s a long-term project of which they are now putting their heads together on what they’re going to be doing.”
She said it will be a few months until they see where the party is headed.
“You’re not going to see the results right away, believe me, conservatives I think they get it,” she said.
Angelo Falcon, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, believes not much has changed in terms of partisanship in Congress. He also questions whether there is anything the GOP can do at this point to win back Latino voters.
“The disrespectful way in which they treated the Latino community gets to the point where I don’t think Latinos—should be giving advice on how they should reach out to our community,” said Falcon. “Some of them are saying, ‘Well, our message wasn’t getting across.’ I think that the problem is that their message did get across.”
“Right now, it’s a question of how to get more votes as opposed to how to help our community,” he said.
Jennifer Korn: GOP political policies in line with Latino voters
The GOP met with unfavorable ratings in each of the swing states with a higher number of Latino turnout. Still, authors of the poll pointed that Latino representatives holding national office such as Florida hold a different dynamic.
“Campaigns matter and candidates matter and we see the effect of those different leaders,” added Whit Ayres, who analyzed the poll’s results. “But the good news is that those Republican leaders I mentioned, Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, are substantially more popular in their states than the Republican party as a whole.”
Korn suggested that the political policies offered by conservative candidates is in accordance with the values of Hispanic voters, but the tone is what is alienating.
According to the survey, name recognition holds more clout. An estimated 50 percent of those who were surveyed in Florida have a favorable or somewhat favorable view of the Sen. Marco Rubio. Yet, it also found that the majority of the voters would describe the Republican party as “anti-immigrant,” while the Democratic party was perceived as understanding the needs and concerns of Latino voters and they make an effort to win them over.
Although the survey shows that Latinos who were polled believe small businesses face more regulations than necessary, the majority still sided with the Democratic party in being better equipped at handling small businesses.
“I don’t want to minimize the challenge that Republicans face here. They face significant challenges among Hispanic Americans and those problems are not going to be resolved just by passing immigration reform—it took us a long time to get here, it will take us a long time to get out,” Ayres said.
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