INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - It's been three months since Romney's election loss and Republicans are starting to ponder what we need to do now. Writing in the Washington (DC) Examiner, pundit Michael Barone points out that Republican annihilation is not likely. Obama carried 26 states to Romney's 24 which bodes hopeful for the Senate. Romney carried 228 congressional districts compared with only 207 for Obama, largely because Democratic core constituencies tend to be clustered geographically in big metropolitan areas.
While Obama carried 93 percent of African American voters and 71 percent of Hispanics, Romney got 59 percent of white Catholics (a new record) and 79 percent of white evangelical Protestants because of the backlash over Obamacare. Romney's most disappointing performance was his 27 percent support among Hispanics, so that bears some analysis.
Latino Decisions is an amalgamation of professors of political science teaching at major universities in the US. Founded by Dr. Matt Baretto of the University of Washington and Dr. Gary Segura of Stanford University the organization is supported by major US charities and universities. This support affords them the resources to engage Impremedia, a polling organization, and they frequently check preferences of Latino registered voters.
In a recent web seminar Dr. Gary Segura shocked participants by opining that Romney lost the election on January 23, 2011, when he publicly advocated a national e-verify law so only citizens could get employment and "self deportation" of undocumented Latinos. Of course he was then in a tough primary contest and was uttering policy ideas to appeal to the GOP right wing but at that time, according to Latino Decisions' polling data, a majority of Latino voters were undecided. After that date Romney suffered a 50 point drop in Latino support.
And on June 15, 2012, according to Dr. Segura, Obama won the election by issuing an executive order deferring deportation of undocumented Latinos. Prior to that there was a huge percentage of undecided Latino voters because of Obama's history of aggressive deportation policies. The announcement caused Obama to shoot up 52 points among Latinos. As noted above the final result was 71 percent Latino support for Obama and 27 percent for Romney.
But, Segura cautioned, all is not beer and Skittles for Democrats. In response to a polling question: "If the GOP took a lead role in passing comprehensive immigration reform to citizenship would it make you more likely to vote Republican?", 27 percent of Obama supporters answered "yes."
That (27 percent x 71 percent = 20 percent), coupled with the 23 percent support Romney actually received, would bring GOP Latino support to 43 percent (almost exactly the 44 percent Latino support former Texas Governor George W. Bush received winning the 2004 election). Had Romney attained that level of support, Dr. Segura explained, he would have won the popular vote and clearly taken Florida, Colorado and New Mexico.
In response to the question: "Which candidate is caring, indifferent or hostile to the Latino community?", Romney was perceived as "caring" by 14 percent, "indifferent" by 56 percent and "hostile" by 18 percent; Obama's figures were 66 percent "caring," 23 percent "indifferent" and only 3 percent "hostile."
Not surprisingly, President George E. Bush Advisor Karl Rove wrote in the January 31, 2013, Wall Street Journal that the GOP's "harsh rhetoric," not its policy, is to blame for the party's lackluster appeal in the Hispanic community. "The solution," he said, "is less about policy than about respect for the Hispanic community." Hmmm. I wonder if he also read about Dr. Segura's conclusions.
Small wonder then that the GOP is putting its "A Team" of senators, led by Hispanic Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), on the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform endeavor. Let's hope that all in GOP leadership positions get the message.
- Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee.