The myth of the Hispanic Republicans

One of the chief reasons for the quick and dirty defenestration of Trent Lott as Senate Majority Leader was to induce more black voters to cast their ballots for Republicans. To that end, President Bush went so far as to issue a "Happy Kwanzaa" greeting from the White House and this week was preaching on the virtues of Martin Luther King to a black audience in Maryland.

None of the above will gain many black votes. But an even more important phantom that haunts the Bush White House is the fantasy of the emerging Republican Hispanics.

Just after last fall's elections, the GOP's spin artists warbled gaily about how many Hispanics the party had fetched into the voting booths. Party officials and their propagandists boasted that "Hispanic voters were a driving force" behind the Republican victories in House and Senate. Conveniently, a massive election-day computer failure at the Voter News Service, which usually tabulates such results from exit polls, allowed these claims to evolve into unquestioned axioms.

Now the axioms are being questioned good and hard. UPI [and VDARE.COM!] political analyst Steve Sailer has long challenged the claims of an emerging Hispanic Republican majority. Only last week an entirely new study, by political scientist James Gimpel of the University of Maryland, hurls yet another torpedo into the myth's hull.

The Gimpel report, published by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington and based on Fox News election day polls in 10 states, found that the Hispanic vote for the Republicans was about the same in 2002 as in previous years: Approximately one-third of the nation's Hispanics voted Republican, though gubernatorial candidates did somewhat better by winning nearly half the Hispanic vote.

But the study also found that the Hispanics who voted last year tended to be higher in income and education than the Hispanic electorate as a whole. Hispanics of lower income and education showed much lower voter turnout in 2002, which may explain why Republicans won as many of their votes as they did: "Latino voters who identify themselves as 'independents' are, in fact, likely to vote Democratic. The fact that many of these independents stayed home in 2002 helped Republicans." [Latinos and the 2002 Election | Republicans Do Well When Latinos Stay Home, By James G. Gimpel, Center for Immigration Studies]

Hispanic voting behavior is important not only because of its national political impact but also because of what it means for immigration policy. Republican and conservative supporters of mass immigration say Hispanics will vote Republican - if only the party gives up on trying to crack down on immigration. Hence, the party has muted immigration reform for the last several years, abandoning an issue that has demonstrated mass appeal to its natural base among white native-born Americans.

But giving up on immigration control has gained the Republicans little, if analysts like Mr. Sailer and Professor Gimpel can be believed. In fact it has brought them losses they may never make up.

By refusing to control the mass immigration that has swollen the Hispanic bloc, the Republicans may have created yet another solid Democratic constituency -- a low-income, low-education, racially conscious bloc that wants bigger government and more stuff from taxpayers.

But Professor Gimpel argues that there is no "Latino" voting bloc as such, one based simply on ethnicity. Hispanics in his view vote along party, income and educational lines, just like all other voters. Controlling for these variables, "there is no difference between Latino voting and the voting patterns of non-Hispanic whites in either the Senate or gubernatorial races of 2002."

That may be, but if Hispanic immigrants tend to be low-income and low-education, they will, simply by those variables, wind up voting for the Democrats like similar income and education categories.

Last year's voting patterns tend to bear this out: If the Republicans won about a third of the Hispanic vote, the Democrats win about two-thirds. If Republicans did well in some races because Hispanic turnout was low, how will they do when Hispanic turnout rises - as it surely will in the future?

The Republicans' idea of wooing Hispanics is to spend more money on TV ads in Spanish and to campaign with a few salsa bands strumming on the podium -- the equivalent of appealing to black voters by praising Kwanzaa and Martin Luther King.

The Democrats gain these groups' votes because they give them things -- more benefits, more privileges, and more attention as victims of "racism."

The Republicans can start winning Hispanics when they're willing to throw overboard entirely their party's conservative principles and get down in the mud with the Democrats.

It would make a lot more sense for the Stupid Party to forget about Hispanics as a bloc they could win from their rivals, start thinking about how to control immigration, dump the ads in Spanish and start speaking the language of the white middle class that really keeps them in office.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

January 23, 2003