Hispanic Republicans – A Media Myth


Last spring, the Pew and Kaiser foundations teamed up
to ask Hispanic, white, and black registered voters a
long series of intriguing questions. The results were
finally released earlier this month. They immediately
got the big spin, with much of the media rushing to
frame the results according to Karl Rove`s storyline –
that Republicans are this close to making a
historic breakthrough with Hispanic voters.

"Hispanic loyalty to single political party a
myth, poll shows
" –

Tucson Citizen
,
October 4, 2002.

"Survey: Latino voters tough to label politically"


Sacramento Bee
,
October 4, 2002

"Hispanics Not Solid for Either US Party"


Houston Chronicle
,
October 4, 2002

"A majority of Hispanic
voters identify themselves as Democrats, but they show
significant ambivalence toward the party, suggesting a
growing electorate that may be up for grabs, according
to a survey released yesterday."


Washington Post
,
October 2, 2002

The Pew-Kaiser poll confirms
that Latinos are inclined toward the Democratic Party,
but are not strongly committed to either party
.
— Michael Barone,

U.S. News & World Report
,
October 5, 2002

Baloney. Hispanic consultants working for both the
Republicans and the Democrats have a financial incentive
to whoop up this idea that Hispanics are a real
battleground -it makes their own services appear more
valuable. But what`s Rove`s or Barone`s excuse? The
plain fact is that Hispanics voting patterns have been
surprisingly stable since

John F. Kennedy`s
election. And for the GOP, they`re
awful.

If you actually study the poll (you can read Pew`s
commentary and see their graphs

here
, or inspect the raw numbers

here
— both require Adobe Acrobat), you`ll see that
the Democrats have a solid hold on Hispanic registered
voters. Some 49% identify themselves as Democrats,
compared to merely 20% who say they are Republican. In
contrast, whites identify as Republicans by a 37%-24%
advantage.

To make this 2.45 to 1 ratio look less dire, Barone,
a

fervent
backer of mass immigration, argues that
Hispanics are "substantially less Democratic than
blacks (64 to 5 percent Democratic).
"

True, but so what? A lot of white Republicans like
Barone seem to view Hispanic immigrants in this
condescending way, as the New Improved Poor Minority
whose increasing numbers somehow dilute (rather than
augment) the problems caused by the Old Unimproved Poor
Minority. Because Hispanics are somewhat less

fanatically anti-Republican
than blacks, Hispanic
immigration is perceived as a boon to the GOP.  Instead
of slitting its wrists and jumping off a cliff, the GOP
is just slitting its wrists.

Furthermore, the data reveals something even worse
for the GOP: Hispanic Republicans aren`t terribly
Republican.
The official summary reports:


"Registered Latinos who
identify as Republicans take a much more liberal stand
on taxes and the size of government than their white
counterparts.  … About half (52%) of registered Latinos
who identified themselves as Republicans said they would
rather pay

higher taxes
to support a larger government, while
only 17% of white Republicans stated that view."

In fact, on the question of
more taxing and spending, Hispanic Republicans are
slightly more liberal than white Democrats. Indeed,
Hispanic Republicans are to the left of
African-Americans! 

But what about

social issues
? Barone waxes enthusiastic:

"On
cultural issues, [
Hispanics] tend to be more
conservative. More than whites, they disapprove of
abortion, homosexual sex, and divorce. Latinos born
outside the United States are even more conservative on
these matters. This suggests that many Latino Democrats
will not be entirely comfortable in a party one of whose
most fervently supported positions is "choice" on
abortions."

Baloney again. If you
look at the poll results, you`ll notice something really
odd: Hispanics are no more socially conservative than
blacks – who identify 64%-5% with the Democrats. As the
Pew people report,


"Registered Latinos are somewhat more socially
conservative than registered whites … On the other hand,
Latinos seem to share social views with those of
registered African Americans."

Are Hispanics – or, for
that matter, blacks – going to

vote Republican
based on these moral views? The
answer is already in: no. Except when voting on rare
single-issue referendums, such as California`s anti-gay
marriage

initiative
California two years ago, the Hispanic
electorate seems far more concerned about bread and
butter issues. Indeed, in their new book The Emerging
Democratic Majority
, (click
here for
my review) John Judis and Ruy Teixeira contend that in
American politics, social issues are essentially a
luxury item that primarily interest better-off groups.

I`ll use Barone`s
article to examine the typical spin-job further, because
Barone is considered, quite deservedly, one of America`s
most learned

authorities
on electoral politics. His approach is a
little more cautious and allusive than that of some of
the more innumerate journalists. But he`s still wrong.

Here, Barone tries to
find a silver lining for Republicans among Hispanics who
don`t yet vote much or at all:

"And, interestingly, young Latinos are not nearly as
likely to identify themselves as Democrats as their
elders: those 18 to 29 are 34 percent Democratic and 21
percent Republican. Nearly half do not identify with
either party. … There is also room for growth among
Latinos who are not yet voters or even citizens. Of
those who are citizens but not voters, 31 percent are
Democrats and 10 percent Republicans. But among Latinos
who are planning on becoming U.S. citizens, the
Democratic advantage is only 22 to 14 percent–not far
from the statistical margin of error."

But there`s an
obvious alternative explanation for this difference:
many of these people haven`t settled on the Democrats
because they simply don`t know much about American
politics. Most 18-29 year olds have more fun
things to do with their lives than watch Meet the
Press
. In contrast, when you reach my age, getting
out of the house in order to register to vote might be
the highlight of your week.

Further, citizens who
don`t vote abstain for a reason: they just don`t care.
And the eventual partisan alignment of people who

aren`t citizens
 is an irrelevant hypothetical
question — that`s why only 36% even ventured an answer.

In fact, the Pew
survey shows that as Hispanics go through life and get
more involved with American politics, they more and more
realize which side their bread is buttered on: among
Latinos 55 and up, the Democrats lead 64% to 17%.

Nor is it likely that

future immigrants
will swarm into the Republican
Party. Foreign-born Hispanics actually appear to be
slightly more liberal and Democrat-inclined than
native-born Hispanics (although the latter may simply be
more

cynical
and

alienated
).

Barone also alludes
to Bush`s

supposed
high popularity among Hispanics:

"On the economy, Latino voters say they have more
confidence in Democrats than Republicans by a 53 to 27
percent margin … But when President Bush is mentioned
the balance changes. On the economy, 43 percent have
more confidence in Democrats in Congress, 42 percent in
President Bush."

Oh yeah? The poll was taken last spring when the
Conqueror of Kabul`s prestige was riding high. So it`s
hardly surprising that Bush sounded good compared to
some faceless Congressmen. But among whites, Bush beat
Congress by even more – 59% to 29%. Conclusion: his
performance among Hispanics, despite the hype, was still
relatively weak.

The media has been
much abuzz over a Hispanic swing to the Republicans. But
there`s a small problem: that swing hasn`t quite gone
through the formality of actually taking place. Overall,
the Pew survey suggests that if there will be any big
change in alignment among Latinos over the next decade,
it`s at least as likely to be a movement toward
the Democrats – just as

Asian-American voters
slid sharply to the left
between 1992 and 2000.


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]

October 13, 2002