Latinos are not going to become instant conservatives [but] . . . without a more generous stance on immigration [i.e. amnesty], Republicans will continue to lose Latino votes. And the fact is Republicans do not need to win 70 percent, or even 51 percent, of Latinos. If they could just get back to Bush’s 44 percent share, it could make a big difference. — David Horsey, Los Angeles Times 2/1/13
Fact Check: The media are still in a virtual feeding frenzy as they keep claiming that Republicans must pass amnesty in order to get “Hispanic votes.” Without these votes, they warn, the GOP will never win national elections again. Interestingly, as many of these commentators are liberal Democrats, their solicitude and concern about Republicans seems strange, to say the least. And frankly it also sounds suspicious, given the obvious political advantage Democrats can gain from amnesty, one explicitly stated by Democratic strategist Robert Creamer in his book How Progressives Can Win.
Harry Enten, who publishes in guardian.co.uk, recently wrote an article explaining why promoting amnesty will not win Republicans enough Hispanic votes to give their party any significant electoral advantage. His main points are summarized below:
A Latino Decisions (LD) poll right before the election found that only six percent of Hispanics said that immigration was the most important issue to them. Sixty-five percent cited other issues. When asked if a more liberal Republican position on immigration would make them more inclined to vote for the GOP, 31 percent said yes, but 58 percent say they weren’t sure or that it have no effect, and 11 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for the party.
The main reason for the reluctance of many Hispanics to support the GOP is their opposition to its central message of less government. Seventy-five percent of Hispanics, according to research by the Pew Hispanic Center, favor larger government and more social programs, compared with only 19 percent who want smaller government. On social issues, stressed by Republicans, second and third generations Hispanics are no more conservative than the general population, and on two, abortion and homosexuality, they are more liberal.
Contrary to the media narratives, pro-amnesty Republican presidential candidates do not do significantly better than those who oppose it. The claim that George W. Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote is unsubstantiated. According to polling by the William C. Velasques Institute, his total was only 35 percent. Pro-amnesty John McCain got only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, not a significantly greater margin than Mitt Romney’s 27 percent.
The Hispanic percentage of the voting population is growing, but not rapidly. It projected to rise only 0.6 percent, each election year, through 2024. Also some of the key swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have small Hispanic populations, which will have little impact on elections.
The best strategy for Republicans, Enten suggests, is to wait for more Hispanics to move up the economic ladder and assimilate. Then Republican principles may become more appealing to them. Although he didn’t say so, he might have added that continued mass immigration, and particularly amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens, will certainly delay assimilation. Also, he might have noted that GOP support for amnesty will alienate many grassroots Republicans and discourage them from voting.