Following the loss of Mitt Romney to President Obama, numerous pundits began claiming that “the Hispanic vote” sank Romney, and that henceforth the only way Republicans can win elections is to endorse amnesty for illegal aliens. One was columnist Charles Krauthammer who stated, “The principle reason [Hispanics] go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of . . . going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully take back.”
Fact Checker: Only 27 percent of Hispanics voted for Romney, but no evidence suggests that amnesty was the key and leading issue that motivated Hispanic voters. To illustrate, Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential contender in 2008, was an outspoken advocate of amnesty for most of the 12 million illegal aliens living in the U.S., yet he received only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Clearly Republicans haven’t done well with Hispanic voters, but immigration policy, according to polls, is far down the list of reasons. A Fox News Latino poll before the election found that 48 percent of Latino voters viewed the economy as the most important issue deciding their vote. Only 5 percent cited immigration. A pre-election NBC Latino/BOPE Zogby poll significantly confirmed these findings. It found that the economy was the primary concern of Hispanics, compared with only five percent whose main concern was immigration. The latter survey also revealed that 42 percent of Hispanics were willing to vote for a candidate whose views on immigration differed from their own.
Given the Hispanic focus on the economy, the fundamental problem for Republicans is that their conservative economic viewpoints are significantly to the right of most Hispanics. According to thePewResearchCenter, only 19 percent of Hispanics favor “smaller government and fewer services.” Seventy-five percent favor “bigger government and more services.” In contrast, 48 percent of the general population endorses less government, compared with 41 percent that wants more.
One reason Hispanics favor bigger government and more social programs, no doubt, is that 28 percent of Hispanics live below the poverty level compared with 11 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
Last year a poll by Moore Information found that Hispanics in California, by a margin of four to one, were more likely to oppose Republicans on economic grounds than because of immigration. Twenty-nine percent said that the GOP “favored only the rich” are “selfish” and “don’t represent the average person.” Only seven percent cited immigration as their reason for not liking the party.
Significantly, much evidence suggests that similar perceptions among predominantly white working class voters, once referred to as Reagan Democrats, played a much greater role in Romney’s defeat than pro-amnesty Hispanic votes. This was particularly the case in Ohio and other key Midwestern swing states where the total Hispanic vote was small to negligible.
In Ohio, the make-or-break state for Romney, there were consistent declines in Republican voting, between 2008 and 2012, in counties with large blue collar constituencies. Many commentators noted that the Obama political ads in the state were effective in portraying Romney as an out-of-touch spokesman for wealthy vested interests.
If Republicans want more votes, they would be wise to seek support from the Reagan Democrats. To do so, they might modify their commitment to the outsourcing of U.S.jobs. And they might also support employment for working Americans by limiting the entry of foreign job seekers, and motivating those who are here illegally to leave. Amnesty will encourage them to remain and encourage more to come—as it has in the past. Republicans who think amnesty will attract Hispanic votes should consider how much more this policy will cost them the votes of their core constituencies and others who might be inclined to vote Republican.
Does this mean that the GOP should give up on seeking Hispanic voters? Not at all. The party can appeal to Hispanics the same way it can to Reagan Democrats, by stressing that immigration control and enforcement of our laws will protect their job opportunities and wages. Particularly with respect to Hispanics, this can ensure them a better chance for upward mobility and a shot at the American Dream.
Amnesty has a proven track record of failure, which shouldn’t be a surprise. The more we reward lawlessness, the more lawlessness we will have. A recent Gallup Poll found that 61 percent of Americans want illegal immigration halted, while only 37 percent want a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. Amnesty only brings political advantage to those who want an impoverished and unassimilated voting bloc to serve their interests. That in no way serves the interest and wellbeing of our country.