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I Told You So Department: Only Bush Boosters Now Believe 44% Hispanic Vote Myth
Despite the efforts of Bush backers like Patrick Ruffini (see below), this was the week that the rest of the world caught up with what VDARE.com readers have known all along: that Bush didn't win 44% of the Hispanic vote.
For example, Michael Doyle reported in the Sacramento Bee (Pollsters lower estimate of Bush's Latino support, December 3):
"Sampling errors exaggerated Latino voter support for President Bush, pollsters now agree. Sharply revising the postelection conventional wisdom, different pollsters now believe Bush received between 33 percent and 40 percent of the Latino vote nationwide. The most commonly cited postelection poll previously asserted Bush had received a remarkable 44 percent of the Latino vote, losing only 53-44 to Kerry.
"The rollback seems to undercut an argument that had been gathering steam since the Nov. 2 election, and which has been repeatedly invoked with Bush's recent appointment of two Latino men to Cabinet positions. It also forces Democrats and Republicans alike to re-examine their political presumptions about the nation's fastest growing population. 'Immediately after Election Day, there was an enormous rush to judgment,' said Adam Siegel, director of the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore."
Last week, the Associated Press, one of the six main financial backers of the National Election Pool exit poll, issued an official correction of the exit poll's ridiculous claim that Bush had won 59 percent of Texas Hispanics. I had debunked this claim immediately after the election.
AP changed the result from Bush winning 59-40 in the state with the second-largest number of Hispanics to Kerry winning 50-49.
The Sacramento Bee's Doyle also reported that, at a conference hosted by the National Association of Hispanic Journalist, "Looking at the larger national sample, the numbers turn out to be 58 percent for [Democrat John] Kerry and 40 percent for Bush, said NBC elections manager Ana Maria Arumi." (NBC is another one of the six sponsors of the exit poll.)
"For the revised figures the networks combined 50 state exit polls, which reflected more than 70,000 interviews, Arumi said," reported James W. Brosnan for Scripps Howard.
As I pointed out in my last VDARE.COM column, Bush did significantly worse among the approximately 3200 Hispanics who filled out the shorter questionnaire, which was originally only used for reporting results at the state level, than he did among the 1100 Hispanics who completed the long questionnaire, which was used for the inflated regional and national numbers.
NBC's Arumi also noted out that the pollsters had failed to avoid the single most obvious problem in sampling Hispanics: Miami's Cubans aren't representative of the overall ethnic group.
Arumi said, as reported by the Bee's Doyle:
"There were too many precincts that had a large Hispanic majority in South Florida, where (Cuban Americans) don't look (politically) like Hispanics in the rest of the country."
As Ruy Teixeira points out, it's not even clear whether Arumi's 40 percent figure represents a final estimate incorporating all the known problems with the poll, such as the inflated Texas number, or whether it could fall a few more points.
My best guess: the real number is a little lower, but not too much lower.
Overall, Bush probably improved his standing among Hispanics, just as he improved his performance with almost every demographic group and state in the country.
For example, the GOP candidates for the House did their best among Hispanics in 1994—which was also the same year they did their best among whites.
But pundits almost never look at the white vote. So they get over-excited about ebbs and flows in the massively less important Hispanic vote.
Journalists always label Hispanics a crucial "swing vote." But in truth they are more of a "flow vote" that fluctuates with the overall tide.
But no matter what the point in the cycle, Hispanics vote consistently far to the left of the white vote.
For example, the GOP House candidates' share of the Hispanic vote in 2002 was 38% (according to the long lost exit poll data I bought from the Roper Center). That was up 3 points from 2000.
A historic breakthrough? Not really. The GOP's share of the white vote went up four points from 55% to 59%. So the overall white-Hispanic gap actually grew one point, from 19 to 20 points.
The change in Presidential results from 2000 to 2004 was probably quite similar.
Now that the facts are finally coming out, some voices are calling for Republicans to ignore them and to continue believing in the Bush Administration's pretty story.
The last four years have seen numerous Bush supporters develop a postmodern attitude toward reality, as if they intend to prove correct Foucault's and Derrida's contention that there is no truth, just whatever the power structure proclaims.
And, hey, the GOP has the power in Washington (at the moment). So, who needs truth, when you've got power?
For example, the talented young voting analyst Patrick Ruffini, who ran the official blog for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, has issued a call for conservatives to "embrace" the inflated number.
Maybe it's just me, but I've always had this feeling that conservatives should embrace the truth.
(I also think that's a good approach for moderates, liberals, monarchists, and anarchists.)
The problem with the 44% Hispanic share figure, whatever its advantages and disadvantages in terms of political spin, was always that it was clearly not true.
Ruffini criticizes me for "employing all manner of hairsplitting and technical minutiae," which is funny coming from him, because the whole reason to read his personal blog is that he's very good at the hairsplitting and technical minutiae that voting analysis entails.
For example, here is his admirably technical essay delving into the minutiae of vote swing in the Northeast.
But he has happy news to report there—Bush did very well in counties in the shadow of the World Trade Center. The real test comes when the news is not what you want to hear.
And he has a history of getting his way with bad ideas.
Last January, Mr. Bush proposed his all-time worst stinkeroo, an immigration policy so beyond belief that he got away with it because nobody, except those of us who have followed his thinking on immigration closely over the years, could believe he meant what he said.
As his spokesmen made clear, it is unlimited in scope. Any number of the six billion foreigners on Earth could move to the U.S. as long as they received a $5.15/hour job offer, assuming it had been first advertised in America for two weeks at the minimum wage.
This is likely the most radically transformative proposal any President has made in at least the last century.
Knowing that 1/4th of Puerto Ricans legally immigrated to America and 1/6th of Mexicans are now here, largely illegally, it's interesting to estimate what fraction of the 6 billion foreigners would legally move here in a decade or two under the Bush plan. I really can't begin to guess, but if Ruffini is looking for a "starting estimate," 100 million would be a nice round number and plausible estimates would climb rapidly from there.
(The methodological problem is figuring out what proportion of the Third World has to move here before America becomes so like the Third World that life is no better here than there, so they stop coming.)
The Republican Congress quickly hushed the Bush plan up, and the Bush campaign dropped it during the campaign. Bush even had the gall to claim to be to the right of Kerry on amnesty, when they were both for amnesty for current illegal aliens. Bush justified this by concocting a wholly novel definition of amnesty as being for citizenship for illegal aliens—as you can see, Bush knows that immigrants becoming citizens is bad for the GOP, so his plan called for mass helotry.
Now, Ruffini does make some good points. As he says, Hispanic voters—in contrast to the Hispanic campaign consultants and the Hispanic politicians who have Mr. Bush's ear—have rationally ambivalent feelings about illegal immigration, and there's little evidence that they want more immigration.
As I pointed out in my important cover story in the December 20, 2004 issue of The American Conservative, "The Baby Gap: Explaining Red vs. Blue" (see here for supporting data and graphs), the most important thing the Republicans have going for them is that married voters with children feel that Republicans are supportive of people like themselves. The correlations between the white fertility and marriage rates by state and Bush's share of the state's vote are extraordinarily high.
The flip side is that the GOP doesn't, at present, have much to offer working families economically.
Among whites, that's less important, because they tend to be better off and thus more focused on raising their children right. But Hispanic married couples on average are more strapped financially, so the GOP's quasi-symbolic family values cultural issues are less often able to persuade them to vote against their economic interests.
The GOP is likely to be able to continue to win a minority of Hispanic votes, especially among the more comfortable. But to win a majority, the average Hispanic's economic situation would have to improve dramatically. And the only way that will happen is if immigration is cut way back. The constant arrival from south of the border of new enlistees in what Marx called "the reserve army of the unemployed" depresses Hispanic voters' wages most of all.
As Ruffini himself notes, there's little evidence that Hispandering wins Hispanic votes. And by keeping Hispanic workers on the edge of poverty, mass immigration makes them more susceptible to Democratic appeals.
The political problem for the GOP simply is that Hispanics are a lot more Democratic than non-Hispanics, and have been since JFK.
And even Republican Hispanics are quite liberal. As the Pew Poll showed, on the basic question—Should the government tax and spend more or less?—Hispanic Republicans are more liberal than white Democrats.
Opening the immigration floodgates is exactly the wrong political tack for the Republicans to take, since it doesn't attract current Hispanic votes, but it does generate a net surplus of Democrats down the road.
Yet there's no evidence that Mr. Bush understands any of this. Immediately after the election, among the very first of the many changes that he had prudently postponed until after the election, such as dumping Secretary of State Powell, was the relaunch of his lunatic immigration plan. White House spokesman are now calling it a reward to Hispanics…for giving Bush 44% of their votes.
Republicans in Congress should know the facts, rather than rely on wishful thinking.
Bush dodged a bullet because Kerry refused to make illegal immigration an issue.
But plenty more bullets are on the way. One ominous sign: Hillary Clinton, a smarter politician than Kerry, has already started to position herself to run against illegal immigration.