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Archive for the ‘Hispanic Voting Patterns’ Category

Exit Polls Suggest Slight GOP Benefit With Latino Candidates

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Voting Patterns on November 18, 2012 at 1:41 am

Does a Republican candidate with a Hispanic surname do better than with Latino voters than an Anglo name?

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Stassel discussed a Spanish-speaking Republican son of Portugese parents [technically not Latino] who beat the tide in California in 2012, as David Valadao flipped a Democratic US House seat to Republican.  The San Joaquin Valley district is 70% Hispanic. [1]  Her points about Mr. Valadao’s success are well-taken, and his success suggests a reasonable approach on immigration reform is a start for any Republican aiming for Latino votes. 

But Ms. Stassel claims other Hispanic Republicans have “cracked the code.  Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susannah [sic] Martinez, Texas Sen.-elect Ted Cruz- all have demonstrated the ability to attract Hispanic voters with the GOP message.” [1]

“Cracked the code”?  Is that true? 

We don’t know how well Gov. Martinez did with Latinos because, according to the Pew Center, “No exit polls were done in New Mexico, so it is not possible to analyze the voting patterns among Latinos and other groups in Martinez’s victorious gubernatorial campaign.” [2]  Martinez won with 53.4% of the vote in 2010 [3], a very good year for Republicans nationally and in a “light blue” state with its population 46% Latino, though a lower proportion is registered to vote. [4]

Marco Rubio did win 55% of the Hispanic vote in Florida in 2010 and fellow Republican Rick Scott won 50% of the Hispanic vote [5] in his race against Alex Sink.  It’s impossible to be sure what forces drove each person’s vote.  The Exit Polling suggests 5% of Hispanics voted for Republican Rubio for Senate and voted for the Democrat Sink for Governor.  It is possible Rubio’s ethnic heritage and fluency in Spanish helped him win those extra votes.  It could be that it was based on other issues.  Immigration, presumably, matters little in Gubernatorial races.

Alas, Stossel’s remark about Ted Cruz is half right.  Cruz had some, but not great, incremental results with Hispanic voters.  Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney actually won a slightly higher percentage of Texas votes (57.2%) [6] than Cruz (56.6%) [7], despite Romney’s lack of success with Latino voters, winning just 27% nationally. 

Because Texas wasn’t expected to be close, no Exit Polls were conducted. [8]  I pulled county level data, which shows the maps look almost the same for Cruz and Romney.  Both Republicans won most of Texas’ 254 counties.  Cruz won just one that Romney lost: gigantic and half-Latino Harris County (home of Houston).  Romney lost the county by 615 votes, a fraction of a percent, whereas Cruz won Harris by 2% (about 19,000 votes). [10]

Also, Houston Chronicle columnist Charles Kuffner looked at Romney vs. Cruz vote totals in five overwhelmingly Latino Texas counties.   In all five, Cruz outdid Romney, though he lost the Latino vote in all. [9]  It is worth noting, too, that Cruz ran on a conservative platform that was tough on illegal immigration.  On the other hand, Cruz’s father was a Cuban immigrant who arrived with $100 and worked the meanest sort of jobs.  Perhaps his story resonated.  Or his last name.  What we do know suggests he outperformed Romney with Texas Latinos, though he did not outright win them.

  President President Senate Senate
COUNTY Romney Obama Cruz Sadler (D)
Cameron 24,955 49,159 27,881 41,930
El Paso 56,517 112,273 59,237 101,467
Hidalgo 39,786 97,879 41,591 88,316
Maverick 6,550 8,302 2,171 2,674
Webb 30,431 37,592 11,074 14,943

I wondered about another high-profile 2010 race, Nevada’s US Senate race featuring Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle.  There was a concurrent race, Nevada Governor, featuring Reid’s son against Hispanic Republican Brian Sandoval.  Sandoval received 33% of the Hispanic vote, whereas Angle received 30%.  That surprised me.  A Hispanic Republican received 33% in his winning bid, yet Angle won 30%, despite her anti-immigration ad that was perceived by many as anti-Mexican American immigrant. [11]  I consider myself a moderate Republican, and Angle’s ad featuring a map of Mexico and dark-skinned border crossers makes me cringe.  It was a textbook case of how to alienate many Latinos.  Yet, Sandoval only polled a 3% increment of Hispanic voters over Angle.

All this data suggests a handful of Latino Republicans have, for whatever reason, outpolled prominent white GOP statewide candidates.  There are so many unique facets of any race – campaign spending, personalities, issues and scandals – that we cannot tell exact reasons why.  But, my take is the evidence shows (1) the GOP would be wise to put forward credible Hispanic candidates whenever possible in areas with significant Latino voting populations and (2) the GOP has a long way to go in terms of outright winning Latino votes.  The performances of Cruz and Sandoval show they did not win the Hispanic vote; not even close.  Rubio, perhaps an unusually strong candidate and one now with national prominence, was able to crack 55% of Florida’s admittedly more GOP-friendly Hispanic voters.  Lacking Exit Polls, we cannot tell how well Susana Martinez did, but her 53% overall win suggests she probably lost the Hispanic vote, given an expected win with white voters.

If the GOP is serious about winning national elections – or winning state and local elections in states like Nevada, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Texas, the party MUST make itself more hospitable to Americans of Latin American and Hispanic descent.  If “amnesty” was good enough for Ronald Reagan, it should be good enough for today’s GOP.  Senator-elect Cruz understands:

“If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community, in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state,” he said.

Cruz added that losing a state like Texas, which carried 38 electoral votes in 2012, would hold national implications.

“If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House,” he said. “New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party.” [12]

It won’t be easy.  I suspect the low Hispanic vote totals of Governor Sandoval and Senator Cruz partly reflect the poisoned Republican brand.  It is easy to envision a moderate Mexican-American voter in Nevada.  If displeased with Angle’s ads, might there not be a spillover effect when considering the candidacy of fellow Republican Sandoval?  

I’ve supported immigration reform for decades because it’s the morally right thing to do and it makes sense economically.  Immigrants come here for work.  From a Republican perspective, its become an electoral necessity, too.  Romney lost because of his paltry 27% of the Hispanic vote, which was 10% of the national total.  If he split the Hispanic vote, he would have won easily.  If he took just 40%, he would’ve eked out a win.  Chew on that, Minutemen!

[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/potomac_watch.html

[2] http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1790/2010-midterm-elections-exit-poll-hispanic-vote

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Mexico_gubernatorial_election,_2010, retrieved 11/15/12.

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_mexico, retrieved 11/15/12.

[5] http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/130.pdf

[6] http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0oG7mmRW6hQz3UApw5XNyoA?p=mitt%20romney%20texas%20vote%20results&fr2=sb-top&fr=yfp-t-701

[7] http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=Ag.4FH7VIoh00jFSArwgSM6bvZx4?p=ted+cruz+vote+results&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-701

[8] http://washingtonexaminer.com/exit-polls-skip-texas-missing-key-demographic-data/article/2513289

[9] http://blog.chron.com/kuffsworld/2012/11/did-ted-cruz-do-better-in-latino-areas-than-other-republicans/

[10] http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/results/state/TX

[11] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/18/sharron-angle-immigration-ad_n_766312.html

[12] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/ted-cruz-latino-vote_n_2117193.html

Note: I use “Hispanic” and “Latino” interchangeably.  The US Census Bureau defines Hispanic as origins traced to a Spanish-speaking country (including Spain, but not Brazil).  Latino is defined as origins in Latin America (not including Spain, but including Brazil).  Many American Hispanics prefer simply “American” or their country of origin (e.g. Cuban-American, Colombian-American).  Others’ ancestors lived in former Mexican states like Texas (“Tejanos”) and Colorado and became American without moving, after the Treaty of Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War.  Hispanics are all individuals and reflect a rich tapestry of cultural experience.  Have a naming preference?  No offense is intended.

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.

Crystal Ball: 2012 Elections Predictions: Romney, Obama, Boehner, McConnell

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Voting Patterns, Mitt Romney, Occupy Wall Street Protests, President Obama on December 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Happy New Year!

Today’s post is my prediction for the 2012 Election season.  I have made a habit of doing this in the past with friends but this is my first locked for eternity in cyberspace.  I formally put forward my election predictions on New Year’s Eve the past couple of elections.  For 2008, I predicted Obama would beat Hillary and McCain would beat Huckabee and Romney, and Obama would win the Presidency.  In 2010, I was probably as lucky as prescient in emailing my friends Dec. 31, 2009 the GOP would win a net +62 in the US House, +6 Senators and +7 Governors.  I was off by just one in the House (+63)!

Now that I have raised the bar to an improbable level that I will probably regret in 11 months, let the predictions begin.

PRESIDENT:

In the GOP Nominating Contest, I continue to think Mitt Romney will overcome all competition.  If he wins Iowa, it is probably all but over, barring a major misstep on his part.  Someone else, e.g. Ron Paul, may win Iowa but Iowa winners tend not to win the nomination, just ask Presidents Gephardt, Harkin, Muskie or Huckabee about Iowa.  Iowa may winnow out some of the also-rans, especially amongst the most conservative.  Romney has the money, the organization and the poise to likely pull off the nomination.  Few seem to discuss the many delegates available in ‘blue’ states like Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, California, New York or Massachusetts that I expect Romney to win, just as McCain did in 2008.  Obama did something similar in 2008, winning the most delegates in a lot of states he had no prayer of winning in the fall (e.g. Texas and Montana).  I expect Romney will win a fair amount of cross-over moderate Democrats and independents in states, like Illinois, with open primaries.  Gingrich somehow managed to not get on the ballot in important Virginia.

I just have a hunch Florida Senator MARCO RUBIO will be Romney’s VP choice.

Obama will be the Democratic nominee and despite idle talk, he will not dump Biden for Hillary Clinton.

We will get to the Presidential winner below. 

Congressional elections tend to follow the direction at the top of the ticket, meaning a Romney or Obama landslide win could mean coattails below for their respective parties.

US HOUSE:

Some of my Democratic friends have made up their minds the Republicans will lose the House.  History is not on their side.  The Democrats need to win at least 25 net House seats.  All 435 are up for reelection each year so anything is possible.  Not once in the modern era has a President been reelected with significant House gains, not even Reagan in 1984.  Why?  I think the answer is simple: a landslide reelection for a President only happens when the public is very happy with the status quo.  If the public feels the country is doing swimmingly well, the President will be reelected and whoever is currently in Congress will largely be returned.  Wave elections in the House happen against the party in power (e.g. 1974, 1994, 2006, 2008, 2010).  If a wave happens in 2012, it will be against the Democrats, not in their favor.

Another quirk to 2012 is Reapportionment and redistricting.  Declining states are generally Democratic ones, so some of the lost seats necessarily come from Democratic states with meager population growth like Connecticut or Massachusetts and winning states include Utah, Washington, Georgia, Arizona, Florida (+2) and Texas (+4).  Republicans controlled more states’ new maps than ever before and look to protect their 2010 gains in many states and squeeze out Democrats in places like North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana. 

Democrats controlled the Illinois map, which was unusually aggressive in targeting as many as eight Republican seats.   Illinois is huge in Democratic Congressional dreaming.  I live in Illinois and have followed the new map, which reportedly came from the national DNCC not local sources.  I think the Democrats overreached and will end up winning only a handful of GOP seats, most likely two in the Chicago suburbs and by spreading out Democratic voters as they did, they inadvertently forced one of their own, Jerry Costello, to announce his retirement [1] and the GOP has a 50/50 shot of winning that district, possibly offsetting a suburban Chicago loss.  Besides Illinois, the Democrats best shot is in California where the new map jumbles up many Members and the Democrats might win as many as a net five seats.  The Texas map was ultimately drawn by a Court and Democrats will probably win half of the four new seats and have a halfway decent shot at one incumbent Republican near San Antonio.

One of the underreported stories of 2010 is how the Republicans beat a lot of aberration Democrats who had managed to hang on in small town America years after the areas had trended Republican at the Presidential level, places like rural northwest Florida and Waco, Texas.  The GOP did not win very many urban or ‘tough’ suburban seats except a small number around Chicago, Orlando, Phoenix, Palm Beach, Columbus, Philadelphia, New York and the aforementioned San Antonio seat.  The Democrats will have to win in rural areas in states like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York to make a deep dent into the GOP 2010 gains.  Only an Obama landslide would do that.

Congressional retirements announced thus far strongly favor the Republicans [2] with a number of Democrats like Dan Boren of Oklahoma [3] giving the GOP highly probable pick-ups.

Some of my Democratic friends also are hoping Tea Party challenges will knock off some moderate GOP candidates, leading to fall defeats.  It is possible, but the overall impact will be slight, at most a seat or two.  This works the other way, too, as union or leftist netroots organizations could defeat a moderate Democrat or two, leading to fall defeats in centrist districts.

If Romney is the nominee and wins handily, I foresee the GOP winning some suburban seats they have come close to winning but not been able to crack in recent years, in places like Fairfax County, VA, Orange County, CA, suburban New York City and especially in Massachusetts.

Obama Health Care Speech to Joint Session of Congress.jpg

PREDICTION:  GOP HOLDS HOUSE, NET GOP HOUSE GAIN +1

US Senate:

Sobering for Democrats: 23 seats in play with retirements creating open seats in states like Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia and New Mexico.

Sobering for Republicans: need +13 to get to a filibuster-proof Senate.

At most, two Republicans are at risk (Brown in MA and Heller in NV).  I give Brown 60/40 odds, which are a little better with Romney on the ticket.  Heller is 70/30 solid.  A Giffords campaign for the open GOP Seat in Arizona would be promising for Democrats but appears not to be happening.

On the Democratic side, incumbents have their work cut out in Missouri, Montana and Florida.  The open seats are the biggest problem, especially in North Dakota and Nebraska, where GOP gains are going to happen. 

The GOP will get the +3 to even up the Senate, possibly even if Obama wins narrowly, but the question is if the GOP can be competitive in enough states to get near 13 if Romney wins?  The answer oddly is, yes, it is possible.  If the GOP runs the table on the open seats above and is able to win open seats in Connecticut or Hawaii (former Governor Lingle gives GOP an unusual Hawaiian opening), hold their own, and then beat some Democratic incumbents in industrial and purple states, then, it could be a GOP landslide.  The Democrats are also defending Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and the GOP looks to have credible challengers for all.  Beyond that, West Virginia is fertile GOP territory but moderate Dem. Sen. Manchin should hold on and the GOP would need to run strongly in places like New Jersey, Minnesota and perhaps Washington state.  They would need a Romney solid win to get those coattails.

What about the Tea Party?  Again, my Democratic friends pretty much have it in the bank that credible GOP candidates will be knocked off by Tea Party unknowns in primaries.  It might happen though where is important.  A Tea Party challenger is never going to win in California but probably will win, anyway, in Indiana or North Dakota.

111th US Senate class photo.jpg

PREDICTION: GOP NET +5 in Senate, taking control.

GOVERNORS: GOP net +1.

PRESIDENT:

Most people seem to be unable to discuss this rationally because their emotions clog their analysis.  I have friends who guarantee an Obama landslide win and others guarantee an Obama landslide loss.

First off, I make no secret I’d like Obama to be defeated, but that doesn’t matter for my analysis.  Can he win?  Of course.   He’d benefit from the most conservative and least experienced GOP nominee and above all, from better job performance.  Strong employment gains, housing price gains and high GDP growth would improve his chances.

How much does ideology matter in a Presidential election?  Quite a bit.  See Nate Silver’s recent, excellent piece on Obama’s prospects [4] to see how statistical models do suggest the further a candidate is from the political center, the tougher it is for them to win the General Election.  This is not to say someone more ideological cannot win (e.g. Reagan in 1980 or Obama in 2008) but they tend to win only with strong anti-Washington, throw the bums out winds at their backs.  Thus, Obama will have more trouble with Romney than Santorum, Paul or Bachmann (none of whom has a prayer of being the nominee). 

The flip side of the coin nearly everyone fails to see is it also matters for Obama, does he run from the center or Left?  All indications are he is going to run a populist campaign from the Left.  The goal is to shore up his base and try to get to 51%.  Anecdotally, I know a lot of independents and soft Republicans who tell me, often in hushed tones, they voted for Obama in 2008 and they are hoping the GOP nominates someone not “too extreme” so they can vote against Obama in 2012.  The risk to Obama is alienating these successful private sector workers as he tacks to the Left and rails against economic success.  Again, the GOP nominee will be very important in determining who these centrist voters flock to.

Obama starts with the benefit of incumbency.  People tend to stay with who they know unless they are unhappy with the results.

Obama will have more money, perhaps upwards of $1 billion for his campaign.  Money helps but does not win elections per se.  Just ask President Kerry about money.  Obama’s money will buy an unprecedented amount of negative campaign ads.  No matter your ideology, I predict you will be turned off by the tone of the 2012 campaign.  It is a general rule of thumb in elections that you campaign positive (Reagan’s 1984 “Morning In America”) when the voters are happy with you but you run a negative campaign when they are not.  Obama’s economic track record means this will be a highly negative campaign.  That is not to imply it cannot work (see the unpopular Harry Reid’s 2010 Senate win).  Unfortunately, I fully expect Obama’s campaign to play up “racism” as if that were the reason people were down on the deficit, unemployment and the growth of government.  I doubt it is very effective with whites though the real goal will be to drive black turnout, which heated accusations of “racism” may produce.

Much is written about demographic changes.  It is absolutely true the country is becoming more Asian, more black and above all, more Hispanic.  I’ve seen projections the 2012 electorate will be as many as 2 points more Latino, which some have argued is a huge plus for Obama.  As I discussed in a recent post [5], the Hispanic vote varies widely by state and the 2008 Latino vote for Obama was 56% in Arizona, 57% in Florida, 61% in Colorado but 76% in California and 78% New Jersey.  This is inefficient from the Obama perspective.  Additional Hispanic voters in California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois will not change the outcome in those states Obama will be winning anyway.  On the other hand, southern and southwestern states like Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado are states Obama needs to win.  Since Obama’s share of the Hispanic vote will almost certainly decline from 2008, he may not be doing much better than splitting the incremental new Hispanic voters in many of those states.  A Marco Rubio VP nomination may even mean an outright GOP win of Florida’s Hispanic vote.

I suspect Obama will struggle to match his 2008 stong performance with blacks, college students and Jews in 2012.  The exceptionally high underemployment/unemployment rate for people in their twenties suggests the 2008 turnout will not be replicated.  In fact, I expect Obama to face a chasm of lack of excitement from Democrats, the mirror image of 2008 when people literally quit their jobs to work full-time on his campaign.

That said, it is splitting hairs to focus too much on how this or that subgroup will vote.  In the end, large macro effects drive all the subgroups in one direction or another.  I am seeing consensus economic forecasts of rather lousy GDP growth of 1.7% in 2012, with continued high unemployment and home prices still dropping or flat at best.  If so, Obama will be hard-pressed to win.  Nate Silver’s model suggests GDP is key and an economy near zero growth makes a Romney win highly probable, whereas he projects Obama squeaking it out at 4% GDP growth.  Mr. Silver is very good and I would not lightly dismiss his reasoning.  I agree GDP and unemployment and a general sense of wealth (especially housing values) are important, more so than a lot of the “debating skills” sorts of things that matter, but only at the margins.  As shown in polls, Obama’s major legislative achievements are unpopular with voters (Health Care/”ObamaCare” and the Stimulus).

What of Third Parties?  Usually much overrated, third parties and independent campaigns could, if well-financed, impact the campaign.  More likely than not, none will be.  A Trump or Ron Paul third-party run might be Obama’s best bet.  I am unconvinced a Bloomberg run would necessarily help Obama so much, perhaps even having an unexpected impact of making some states like Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, Washington and Massachusetts more competitive for the Republicans.  That said, a billion dollar run by someone like Bloomberg would certainly stir things up.

Another factor might be the Occupy movements, which petered out with the cold but will probably return in the Spring.  The Occupy movements turned violent with vandalism and police confrontations near the end.  I fear they will be more violent and destructive if they gear back up because in the odd calculus of media attention just camping out gets old for the TV news.  The pressure to do something outrageous grows and mentally imbalanced Occupy participants may take the most heated rhetoric to terrible extremes.  If I know the American voter, political violence always backfires and thus, an Occupy shooting of say, an oil executive or man in a suit in New York City will hurt politicians like Obama who embraced Occupy.  Fingers crossed it never comes to this.

Thus, baring an unexpected post-Labor Day scandal (e.g. Obama or Romney sex scandal) or massive exogenous shock (e.g. major October terrorist attack), I think it will be ROMNEY defeating Obama in November.

Of course, this is all my judgment based on today and I might be wishing I never wrote this in a matter of months!  Happy 2012 and turn off that TV lest you be bombarded with ads!

[1] http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/aviation/185349-rep-jerry-costello-will-not-seek-re-election

[2] http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/195795-retirements-hit-dem-aspirations-for-a-house-takeover-in-2012-elections

[3] http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/165111-oklahoma-rep-boren-wont-seek-reelection

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/magazine/nate-silver-handicaps-2012-election.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

[5] http://econscius.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/recent-drop-in-immigration-will-not-impact-growth-in-hispanic-turnout-in-2012/

Recent Drop in Immigration Will Not Impact Growth in Hispanic Turnout in 2012

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Voting Patterns, Immigration, President Obama on November 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm

  

RealClearPolitics.com columnist Sean Trende’s otherwise sensible article “Obama’s 2012 Chances and Democratic Demographic Dreaming” makes one wrong assertion:

“Latino immigration has largely stopped over the past several years. It may have even reversed. There are multiple reasons for this, including the United States’ deep recession and slow recovery, as well as the continued modernization of the Mexican economy. In other words, to the extent that Latino immigration is what accounts for the increase in the Latino share of the electorate from 1992 through 2004, we should not expect it to do so from 2008 through 2012.” [1] (emphasis added)

Mr. Trende makes a mistake because immigrants cannot vote right away.  A new legal immigrant has to wait five years before applying for citizenship. [2]  A new illegal immigrant will not be able to vote at all. [3]  US born children of illegal immigrants will not be eligible to vote until they attain 18 years of age.

 

Mr. Trende is absolutely correct the recent decline in immigration reflects the aftermath of the economic recession.  But those immigrants who did not come in 2009-2011 would not be voting in 2012, anyway.

The purpose of Mr. Trende’s article is to critique the latest update to the popular “Emerging Democratic Majority” hypothesis of Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin.  Messrs. Teixeira and Halpin first argued in 2002 continuing population growth of American minority groups make a Democratic majority inevitable.  The most recent installment argues an additional 2% of the 2012 voting population will be minority, meaning President Obama can afford to lose white voters, abandoning Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan to adjust his 2012 trip to 270 electoral votes down a narrow road running through purplish states with fast-growing minority populations such as Nevada, Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina. 

The Hispanic population is by far the fastest growing in America, surging  by 35% to 50.5 million in the 2010 decennial Census. [4]   The Hispanic population is younger and a substantial proportion are not yet citizens so Hispanics comprised 9% of the 2008 vote but 12.5% of the 2010 population. [5]  The comparative youth of the Hispanic population means a disproportionate share of the growth in the electorate in 2012 and beyond.   Census data shows Hispanics were 18% of the 16-19 age cohort as of March 2009. [5]  When we contrast the 18% against the 9% of the total 2008 vote, it shows the crux of the Teixeira argument.  That 16-19 cohort of 2009 is sure to include many 2012 first-time voters.

One important point Mr. Trende makes about the Teixeira theory is voters are not static.   Obama won 67% of the Hispanic vote in 2008 [5] , which is fairly typical for a nationwide Democrat.  The Democratic share of the nationwide Hispanic vote slipped to about 60% in 2010 and a few candidates such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush won about 40% of the Hispanic vote.  Mr. Trende’s point about President Obama being judged on the economy is obvious.  He also notes Latino turnout has varied from year to year even as the overall Hispanic population grew [6], presumably for the same reasons white turnout varies:  turnout is based on how people feel about the candidates and the overall importance of an election.

A flaw  Mr. Trende identifies in the Teixeira theory is the assumption black or Hispanic vote proportions for Democrats or the GOP will remain the same year after year.  This has not been the case in the recent past.  I believe the Hispanic vote is especially subject to generally adjusting to the Republicans because Hispanic voters have, unlike black voters, voted quite differently based on socioeconomic status.   As City Journal’s Steven Malanga wrote: “in the McCain-Obama contest, 83 percent of Hispanic voters with annual incomes of $15,000 or less voted for Obama, as did 71 percent of those earning between $15,000 and $30,000. By contrast, 51 percent of those with household incomes between $150,000 and $200,000 voted for McCain.” [7]   White voting also follows a trend of becoming more Republican as one moves up the income and education scale, though the Hispanic differential between low and high incomes is much more pronounced, indicating more potential upside to the Republicans if the trend continues. [8]

This suggests Hispanic voters tend Democratic at lower-income levels and become ever more Republican as they move up the education and income scale.  No one knows the future for sure, but it would be logical to think overall Hispanic voters will become Republican as the Hispanic population becomes more settled and financially secure.  To the extent some Latinos vote Democratic because they are offended by anti-immigration rhetoric from some of the more strident Republicans, I trust this will also change over time as those Republicans either change their ways or are voted out. 

Actual 2008 exit polling data (below) suggests another reelection headache for Mr. Obama neither Mr. Teixeira nor Mr. Trende suggest:

2008 Hispanic Vote Share: Obama:


New Jersey 78%
Nevada 76%
California 74%
Illinois 72%
New Mexico 69%
US Average 67%
Texas 63%
Colorado 61%
Florida 57%
Arizona 56%
   
Chart by author, data source: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1024/exit-poll-analysis-hispanics  

The Hispanic vote total for Obama varied greatly from New Jersey’s 78% to Arizona’s 56%.  This dispersion makes the Teixeira hypothesis more of a stretch if it holds in 2012.  Why? 

With the exception of Nevada, the reason is the states with the highest ratio of Democratic Hispanics are generally safely in the Democratic camp, anyway.  Nevada and New Mexico are battlegrounds with six and five electoral votes, respectively.  On the other hand, two larger and therefore more important battleground states in the Teixeira 2012 roadmap are Colorado (nine electoral votes) and Florida (29 votes). Mr. Obama won 61% of Hispanics in Colorado and just 57% in Florida.  A slightly larger 2012 Hispanic voting block in those states will not actually do President Obama  much good if he is winning 61% or 57% of those incremental voters.  Furthermore, Mr. Obama’s 51% current approval rating with Hispanics [9] suggests his 2012 vote percentages will be lower, meaning incremental Hispanic voters in Colorado and Florida may be a draw or even help the Republican.  Perhaps even more so if US Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) were the Republican Vice Presidential nominee. 

The chart above shows how, from President Obama’s perspective, Hispanic votes are rather inefficiently placed under the winner-takes-all Electoral College with the largest Hispanic populations in states that are almost certainly already settled (California, Texas, New York, Illinois, New Jersey) or happen to have the Hispanic populace most amenable to Republicans (Florida).  

Despite Mr. Trende’s error in linking the recent drop in immigration to the 2012 election turnout, he does point out flaws in the Teixeira 2012 roadmap.  The Teixeira theory has a huge hole in assuming minority groups remain just as Democratic as they grow in proportion to whites.  When we look at subgroups of whites which were once considered distinct minorities, be it Italians, Poles or Irish, we see a gradual trend away from the Democratic Party as these groups have become increasingly assimilated and economically prosperous.   Anecdotally, most Hispanics I know personally are Republican or independents who lean that way; I trust this higher than normal Hispanic Republican experience reflects my socioeconomic status.  

That said, these changes rarely happen overnight and the demographic trends show future electorates will be increasingly Hispanic as recent immigrants gain citizenship and the young Hispanics attain age 18.  I happen to be a strong supporter of immigration on both humanitarian and economic grounds.  Though we have broadly discussed racial groups here, the fact remains everyone is an individual.  There is no prototypical “Hispanic” as Hispanic Americans came from myriad countries of origin, some do not even speak Spanish and some, such as Eva Longoria, happen to be descendents of people who immigrated to Spain’s American territories four or five hundred years ago, long before Texas, Florida and the Southwest were annexed by the United States.  Each Hispanic has a unique human experience.  The Republican Party would be wise to cater as best as it can to the growing Hispanic population, lest they someday prove Teixeira’s “Emerging Democratic Majority” correct.

[1]http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/11/30/obamas_2012_chances_and_democratic_demographic_dreaming_112221.html

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Citizenship#Eligibility_for_naturalization. (accessed 11/30/11).

[3] In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I assume the number of illegal immigrants who actually vote is immaterial.

[4] http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-04.pdf

[5] http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1024/exit-poll-analysis-hispanics

[6] See figure 2 in Pew link (note [5]) where Hispanic vote proportion dropped in states like FL and CA between 2004 and 2008, despite significant relative population growth. 

[7] http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_1_snd-latino-voting.html

[8] McCain won 56% of whites over $50,000, 51% of whites under $50,000.  Exit polling data from page 1 of http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#val=USP00p1.

[9] http://www.tnr.com/article/the-vital-center/97938/obama-demographics-2012-latinos

Pictures of famous Hispanic Americans Sen. Marco Rubio, Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM), Demi Lovato and Eva Longoria from Wikipedia Commons.

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