The Incredible Latino Supervote, The Invisible White Majority: Tales From Election `06.
Thus, as I
predicted a couple of weeks ago, much of the MSM—with
the Wall Street Journal editorial page
in the lead, of course—is blaming the GOP`s losses
on the mighty Hispanic vote being provoked into wreaking
righteous revenge on those
nativist House Republicans.
Furthermore, as countless polls have shown, American
citizens of Hispanic descent who can vote aren`t
at all as favorable towards illegal immigration as their
self-proclaimed ethnic leaders claim.
Case in point: four immigration restrictionist ballot
measures in Arizona each passed with about 70 percent of
the overall vote—and
close to half of the Hispanic vote. For example,
Proposition 103, making English the state`s official
language, earned the support of 48 percent of Arizona
(Similarly, Arizona`s anti-illegal immigration
Proposition 200 enjoyed 47% approval among
Hispanics in 2004.)
My conclusion: A close inspection of the data shows
that there was no Latino tidal wave at the polls last
week, and only a quite minor decline in Hispanic support
for the GOP due to the House`s immigration restriction
votes. The overall impact of Latinos on the election
results was minimal.
This is what actually happened:
According to a nifty graphic display on the
New York Times website, there are 56
House districts that are more than 30 percent Hispanic
by population (not voters). Their average House election
margin grew 7 percent more Democratic from 2004 to 2006.
Among those heavily Hispanic districts, 41 became more
Democratic versus only 15 that became more Republican.
But is that proof positive of the election-winning
powers of the Latino Supervote?
No—because heavily Hispanic districts actually had
barely any impact on the balance in the House.
won 40 of those 56 seats in 2004. So far in 2006,
they have still won only 40, with two undecided. (In
Albuquerque, Republican incumbent Heather Wilson has a
1,481 vote margin over Patricia Madrid at last
word. And in San Antonio,
Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla is headed to a
runoff with Ciro Rodriguez.)
In contrast, the same handy
NYT Web featurette shows that there are
68 districts that are over 90 percent non-Hispanic
white. And these highly white districts became 13
percent more Democratic.
Over the last two years, 60 became more Democratic
and only 8 became more Republican. They shifted from a
51-17 advantage in seats for the GOP in 2004 to only a
37-30 advantage (with one still undecided).
So these 68 overwhelmingly white districts by
themselves were almost enough to account for the 15
seats the Democrats needed to win the House.
Furthermore, evidence that angry Latinos turned out
in vast numbers is strikingly lacking on the ground in
California and Texas.
A November 10th Los Angeles Times article by
Teresa Watanabe and Nicole Gaouette was entitled
Latinos throw more support to Democrats: Analysts say
GOP candidates` stance against immigration helped defeat
Yet, if you read to the latter half of the story, you
"It was not clear,
however, that immigration was the top priority for
Latino voters. Several polls showed that education and
the economy were more important. In California, a Times
exit poll did not find any significant surge of Latino
voters. They made up about 12% of the electorate—about
the same proportion since 1998.
Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, said
1.2 million California Latinos voted this week, an
increase of 100,000 over the 2002 election. However, he
said that fell short of the 1.5 million voters that his
group had hoped for."
Case in point: California`s Congressional District 47
in heavily Hispanic northern Orange County.
You probably read about it during the contrived
controversy over the "emigrado"
letter. In a district where Democratic Rep. Loretta
Sanchez has a
documented history of support from noncitizens
voting illegally, Republican challenger Tan Nguyen
sent a letter in Spanish asking citizens to vote and
warning noncitizens not to vote. Fueled by
out-of-context quotes that
distorted the plain meaning of the letter to make it
appear that it was telling
naturalized citizens not to vote, this caused a vast
"And if the letter was
intended to chill the vote among immigrants, it appeared
to have the opposite effect in the ethnically diverse
Oh yeah? As usual, the LA Times, the
fastest-shrinking major newspaper in America,
missed the real story of what was going on in its own
Rep. Sanchez won re-election with only 31,656 votes
(to 19,525 for Nguyen), down from her 41,282 in the last
midterm in 2002. The other districts in California with
Hispanic incumbents show the same lack of a tidal wave
trend—some are up in total votes, some are down. Nothing
much is going on.
No, the real story is that Rep. Sanchez won with the
lowest total on any winning candidate in America.
A total of only 51,181 votes were cast for all
parties in Sanchez`s CD47—versus 148,459 in nearby CD
46, where Republican
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was easily re-elected. This
means that each vote in Rohrabacher`s district was
weighted only 35% as heavily as each vote in Sanchez`s
If districts were drawn not on total residents but
based on the number of citizens living within
their boundaries, as the
7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled they should
be in a 1998 case, Sanchez probably wouldn`t even have a
district and she`d be out of a job.
In California`s gubernatorial race, Republican Arnold
Schwarzenegger roared to re-election by winning 63% of
the white vote. In California`s
last 15 statewide elections going back through
1992, Republican candidates have won the three times
they carried a majority of the white vote. They have
lost all twelve times they didn`t.
As I wrote
earlier this year:
"After getting off to a
strong start, including
repealing illegals` licenses as promised,
Schwarzenegger stumbled badly in 2005 by not realizing
that his slate of initiatives to undermine the power of
the public employees unions were perceived by his
natural base, the
white lower-middle class , as an assault on their
survival in California`s outlandishly expensive
housing market . Firemen, cops,
nurses , and
teachers … rallied support from their neighbors,
who saw their union perks not as sinecures but as
life preservers." [New
Republican Majority? The American
Conservative, May 8, 2006].
Schwarzenegger, who is nothing if not a quick
learner, promptly switched in 2006 from traditional
small government conservatism to something resembling
the tax-and-spend semi-conservatism that the Daley
dynasty has honed in winning eleven out of twelve
elections in Chicago.
In the Windy City, an economically inegalitarian city
with both wealthy corporations and
vast numbers of poor people , the
white lower middle class has survived in large part
by getting government jobs providing services to the
Barry Goldwater wouldn`t have approved. But the
Daley strategy has kept Chicago a far more livable city
than, say, Detroit.
And something like that is probably the best
California can hope for at this point.
How about Texas?—the state with the
second largest Latino population?
In the Houston Chronicle, R.G. Ratcliffe
Hoping Gains Weren`t a Fluke, November 12
"But there is scant
evidence that Latino voters in Harris and Dallas
counties played much of a role in the Democratic surge
last week. The three most heavily Hispanic state House
districts in Houston had voter turnouts ranging from 17
percent to 21 percent of registered voters. Only about
half of the Spanish-surname adults in those districts
are registered to vote, and a quarter of the residents
are not U.S. citizens. Statistics from Dallas show the
Hispanic population also was not a major factor in that
county, either. In the most Hispanic state House
district in Dallas, just 10 percent of the voting-age
adults cast a ballot in this election."
You might think the Latino Landslide would have some
effect on Congress. But an article in the Washington
Demographic Goes Slightly More Female—No Racial Shift,
But Minorities` Influence May Rise) by Lois
Romano, November 9, 2006) noted:
"The number of Hispanic
legislators remains unchanged, with 23 in the House… `Of
course, we`re disappointed,” said Arturo Vargas,
executive director of the National Association of Latino
Elected and Appointed Officials.
So how big was the Latin Supervote?
My guess: around six percent of all voters—up from
5.3 percent in the last midterm in 2002.
Sure, the national exit poll claimed eight percent,
but the exit poll turnout figure has long been
exaggerated compared to the
gold standard, the Census Bureau`s Current
Population Survey phone survey of 50,000 households
immediately after each election. An exit poll is not a
reliable way to measure subtle differences in the size
of an ethnic voting bloc because the pollster must
decide ahead of time how many Hispanic neighborhoods
will be surveyed based on how an a priori
assumption about how big the group is. A phone survey
like the Census Bureau`s avoids this problem.
(I won`t bore you by rehashing why
all careful observers now agree with me that the
Republicans didn`t win 44 percent in 2004, as initially
but incorrectly reported in the exit poll. Let me just
say that if anybody tells you the Republicans received
44 percent in 2004, they`ve shown they are amateurs.)
I haven`t checked the 2006 figure carefully, but 30
percent sounds plausible.
Now, a drop of 8 to 10 percentage points among
Latinos seems pretty bad at first glance. But much worse
for the GOP was only carrying
51 percent of the white vote versus
58 percent in 2002 and
57 percent in 2004. Whites account for about
four out of every five votes. That`s what killed the
Historically, the Hispanic vote moves up and down
along with the white vote, just skewed about 20 points
or so towards the Democrats. Latinos are not the
"swing voters" of media legend. They are more
accurately "flow" voters who go with the general
So, relative to the bellwether white vote, the GOP
did merely one percentage point worse among Hispanics
versus the last midterm and four percentage points worse
than in the last Presidential election.
Let`s assume (generously) that four percentage points
represents the drop in the GOP`s Latino vote caused by
House Republicans taking a (fairly) tough line on
illegal immigration. What was the total cost to the GOP?
Well, a four percent decline times six percent of the
electorate is 0.24 percent, or, say, a quarter of a
If the GOP lost roughly five percentage points from
2002 and 2004 to 2006, then the Latino decline accounted
for roughly one-twentieth of it.
If the GOP picked up merely one percentage point
among whites due to immigration, that would have
three times the size of this loss among Hispanics.
And here`s the kicker: Americans who want patriotic
immigration reform aren`t convinced the GOP would
The exit poll shows clearly that while
five-eighths of voters consider "illegal immigration"
very to extremely important, the GOP did an
absolutely terrible job of converting those views into
IMPORTANCE OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
Very Important (32%)
Somewhat Important (29%)
Not At All Important
This is disgraceful—but hardly surprising,
considering the chief booster of opening the borders
furthers has been the Republican President,
George W. Bush.
And the Republican frontrunner in 2008,
John McCain, put his name on an amnesty bill in
tandem with Ted Kennedy.
The GOP`s problem is, not that it talked too much
about immigration, but that it did not talk about
Patriotic immigration reform remains a cause without