Friday, March 16, 2012

The Shortsighted Republican Strategy to Win Hispanic Voters

In a recent New York Times article, Colorado Republican officials expressed optimism that their economic message would be enough to win over Hispanic voters in the state.

While it’s true that our polling—and recent public polls—show that jobs and the economy are the most important issues for Hispanics, there are two fundamental flaws in the Republicans’ strategy.

The first is that our recent polling shows Hispanic voters in Colorado actually trust the Democrats more to handle economic issues. Our most-recent polling in Colorado shows that Hispanics in the state trust Democrats in the state legislature to create jobs more than Republicans.

That same poll shows that 75% of Hispanic likely voters are more likely to vote for a Congressional candidate who supports “raising taxes on people earning more than one million dollars a year to help balance the budget and create jobs.” 78% say they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who supports “ending corporate tax loopholes to help balance the budget.”

The second flaw in the Republicans’ strategy is that even the best economic messaging won’t help them if they continue their vitriolic rhetoric on immigration. While few Hispanics list immigration as the most important issue facing the country, the heated and extreme rhetoric we’ve seen in the Republican primary has cemented the image of an outwardly anti-Latino GOP in the minds of many Hispanic voters.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen prominent Republican candidates refer to Spanish as “the language of the ghetto” and embrace a policy of “self-deportation,” which aims to make life so miserable for immigrants that they choose to leave. Mitt Romney has even launched a campaign attacking Rick Santorum for voting to approve Sonia Sotomayor (the first Latina Supreme Court justice and an icon in the Hispanic community) to the U.S. Circuit court years ago.

These attacks transcend simple policy debates. They strike at the heart of the Latino community, and they will make it exceedingly difficult—if not impossible—to win back Hispanic voters this fall.