INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Bean counters in the Romney campaign have it figured out that Mitt is going to have to earn about 35 percent of the fast growing Latino vote in order to win the upcoming election. The problem for a Republican to attract a significant Latino votes is that when they go through a GOP primary election handlers tell candidates: “Sound tough on illegal immigration; demand tightening up the border with Mexico” as a means of appealing to the right wing Republican voters who inveterately vote in primary elections. Unfortunately this comes back to haunt GOP candidates who advance to the general election and seek Latino support. Cynical Democrats suggest: “That’s like Hitler going after the Jewish vote.”
Both political parties tried to “out-Hispanic” each other at their recent national conventions. Democrats paraded Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as chair of their convention and an undocumented Latina named Castro to plead for enactment of the DREAM act which would open a path to citizenship for illegals who join the US military or attend two years of college. Republicans trotted out their two Hispanic governors, Martinez of New Mexico and Sandoval of Nevada, Senator- elect Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was tapped to introduce candidate Romney. Moreover former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has teamed up with former Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman to woo conservative Latinos voters.
Did all this do any good for Romney’s appeal among Latino voters? To find out I contacted an organization called Latino Decisions, an amalgamation of ethnic Hispanic political science professors at various universities in the United States. Headquartered at the University of Washington, Latino Decisions contracts with pollster ImpreMedia to conduct frequent polls among Latino registered voters. Following the GOP convention 21 percent responded that the GOP “show” improved their opinion while 7 percent said it made them less favorable towards the Republican Party. Among independents 38 percent were impressed by the show while only 8 percent reported that watching the Republicans diminished their esteem.
ImpreMedia has identified 12 swing states that will decide the presidential election. They are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Wait a minute ... Texas?? Yep, in those 12 states Romney and Obama are polling within 3 points of each other. Of those, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Texas, with a cumulative 93 electoral votes, all have Latino voter populations large enough to swing those states one way or the other.
The only state we locals can do anything about is Nevada, right? Here are the statistics as of September 11: Romney is polling at 45 percent and Obama at 48 percent.; there are 245,000 Latino voters in the Silver State representing 14.2 percent of the state electorate; 22 percent of Nevada Latinos, or about 54,000, currently plan to vote for Romney which is well short of the campaign’s goal; there are only about 45 days to go before the election.
Republicans can put Nevada back in the red column but it’s going to take work and coordination. If you want to make a difference contact Incline/Crystal Bay Federated Women’s President, Carol Del Carlo at firstname.lastname@example.org. She has a plan to get conservative voters of all ethnicities registered and voting in the November election. As John McCain said: “I don’t care if you’re Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Vegetarian, I want your vote!”
The place to start is right here in beautiful Lake Tahoe.
— Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, and has served on the Washoe County and Nevada state GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at email@example.com.