According to exit polls, the President won Latinos with a blockbuster 73% of the vote. Every month, approximately 50,000 American-born Latinos turn 18, which means by 2016, there will be 2.4 million new potential Latino voters across the country. George W. Bush saw the writing on the wall 8 years ago when he fought for a 40% share of the Latino vote during his reelection campaign. Remarkably, however, Republicans decided to forget the lessons of 2004 this year, and returned to using Latinos as a punch line during their primary debates.
Indeed, after the election conservatives continue to refuse to acknowledge the Republican Party’s Latino problem. Redstate’s Daniel Horowitz, in his post election analysis, evidences this refusal. He scoffs at moderating the party to address the “demographics” i.e., the Latino problem. This is a staggering assumption--to conclude that Latinos are only moderates and liberals and therefore a waste of time to an ideologically pure party. This type of analysis is useful insofar as it frees the right-wing from introspection after a big defeat in lieu of asking what they can do to be competitive with Latinos. This type of analysis, however, is also a recipe for continued Republican failure.
There are plenty of conservative, Catholic, Latinos who would be “low hanging fruit” for Republicans. Many Latinos agree with low taxes, gun rights, “family values,” and are against abortion. But instead of talking to these voters as W did, the 2012 batch of Republican misfits took turns talking about how they would keep out Mexicans, culminating with Herman Cain’s infamous claim that he would install an electrified border fence. Romney, for his part, called for “self deportation,” routinely referred to Latinos as “illegals,” and made no meaningful attempt to attract Latino voters after he won the nomination.
I have never seen a party so willing to insult, badger, and degrade potential voters as the 2012 Republican Party. Republicans have forgotten the simple notion that you have to be nice to voters you want to win over. No matter how conservative some Latino voters may be, they will never vote for a party that routinely dehumanizes them, uses them as a punch line to solidify support amongst conservative whites, and refuses to make any effort to change that narrative.
The problem for the Republican Party is not conservative ideology, the problem is instead that the Republicans have allowed a cadre of incendiary tea party candidates and pundits to control their message, and spread a message of hate and factionalism. The election last night was a repudiation of these recalcitrant bullies who have spent the last several years attacking and stereotyping entire swaths of the electorate. Allen West’s defeat and Michele Bachmann’s near defeat are only further evidence of the failure of the hate.
In listening to Rush this morning and talking to some conservative friends, it appears the Republicans will refuse to change their path. It is laughable that they do not see this relatively simple problem. In a larger sense, the refusal of Republicans to address this issue is a sad robbery of meaningful choice for Latino voters in this country. On the other hand, as a progressive, the continued refusal of Republicans to live in reality is just fine by me.