Michael Barone, Call Your Office! Hispanic Vote Gets…Smaller?
In June of 2003, the much-quoted neoconservative pundit
Hispanic immigrants are the fastest-growing and
politically most fluid segment of the electorate. They
were 7 percent of voters in 2000 and could be 9 percent
in 2004, most of them in big states."
Before I reveal what the new federal data suggests about
Barone`s assertion, let`s review a little history.
The Bush campaign brain trust—Karl
Matthew Dowd, and assorted journalistic
water-carriers of whom
Barone is probably the most important—has long
argued that, because our current mass immigration policy
creates new citizens who vote by landslide margins
against Republicans, the only solution is … even more
The logic behind this hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you
strategy, meekly accepted by most of the press:
Hispanic voting clout is already overwhelming. The
only possible response is to pander to them and import
more of their co-ethnics—in the hope of losing slightly
less badly among them…in the short run.
Nonsense, of course. In the first place, most Hispanics
sensibly ambivalent feelings about immigration,
especially illegal immigration. In a Pew Foundation
poll of Latino registered voters, only 7% said there
were "too few" immigrants in the U.S.
Among Hispanics, it`s generally only the professional
ethnics—the politicians, identity politics activists,
Spanish-language broadcasters, marketers, etc.—who
want lots more immigration in order to further feather
their own nests.
In the second place, to plagiarize the late historian
Daniel Boorstin`s saying about promoters, the Latino
electoral tsunami that we
hear so much about hasn`t quite gone through the
formality of taking place.
Current immigration policy certainly poses a vast
long-run danger to the GOP. But there`s still time
to do something about it.
The single best measure of the size of ethnic electoral
blocs is the
Current Population Survey of the voting and
registration behavior of about 50,000 households. This
is conducted by the Census Bureau immediately following
each national election.
In July 2001, I broke the
story that this not-yet-published federal data
showed that the
Hispanic vote in 2000 had only reached 5.4 percent,
well below the seven percent figure
widely cited in the press. (It had come from
rounding up the 6.5 percent figure from the smaller VNS
This time around, the Census Bureau didn`t allow
outsiders to prowl around in their unreleased data. But
the official 2002 numbers are finally out.
So how much did the
Latino electorate grow?
Answer: it didn`t. The Hispanic vote shrank,
from 5.4 percent in 2000 down to 5.3 percent in 2002.
I don`t believe this fact has been published anywhere
else yet. If you want to check it yourself, here`s the
Acrobat PDF file—you have to crunch the numbers in
Whereas, in contrast, white Americans
did turn out in 2002—apparently a patriotic response
to 9/11 and the looming Iraq Attaq. The non-Hispanic
white share of the vote was 81.3 percent, up from 80.7
percent in 2000.
Note: that made the white vote more than 15 times
larger than the much-ballyhooed Hispanic fraction.
Thus, if Bush`s
Hispandering on immigration
costs the GOP one percentage point
among whites, he will have to boost the Republican
share of the
Hispanic vote by an impossible fifteen percentage
points just to break even.
Of course, the Latino share is
likely to grow from 2002 to 2004. But my
longstanding forecast of about 6.1 percent for Hispanics
this year seems likely to turn out well.
Back in May, I challenged Barone, who is supposed to
know about this stuff as author of
The Almanac of American Politics, to a bet:
"I hereby declare
that, in the tradition of the
famous bet between
Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich, I will wager $1,000
that the Hispanic share of the 2004 Presidential
vote—according to the November 2004 Census Bureau
survey—will be closer to my prediction of 6.1 percent
than to Barone`s prediction of 8.5%. Mr. Barone can
Bet For Barone, May 30, 2004]
For some reason, I haven`t heard back from him.
I could use the money, so you might want to
email him and ask him if he`ll put up or shut up.
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and