Monday, March 30, 2015

J. Hunter ― Winning Latinos to the GOP Requires More than a Latin Face

The Chicago conservative blogger writes about identity politics and Republican immigration policy.

Latino voters presented a significant boost to President Obama’s 2012 electoral victory. Obama won 71% of the Latino vote, second only to Bill Clinton’s 72% in 1996. As Republicans go, George W. Bush scored highest among Latino voters winning 40% of their votes in 2004. Recreating Bush’s success among Latinos would make the GOP an unstoppable force in presidential races. The Party knows this and scrambles for outreach opportunities, including highlighting the ethnic identities of some of the highest profile national Republicans. As the 2016 presidential race breaks ground, two Latino Republicans face an interesting appeal to Latino voters that speaks to the intersection of identity politics and Republican immigration policy.

Texas senator, Ted Cruz (already a 2016 presidential candidate), and Florida senator, Marco Rubio (a potential contender), arguably make up the two most visible Republican Latinos in the country. Both, though, suffer among Latino voters because of how their immigration stances square with their ethnic identities. For starters, they’re Cuban–sons of Cuban immigrants. Cubans make up only 3 percent of American Latinos, while the overwhelming majority of American Latinos are Mexican.