Whether or not Donald Trump’s candidacy is real, a conspiracy with the Clintons to sabotage Republican chances, or just an elaborate piece of political performance art – the GOP is in serious trouble with Latino voters. Granted, they’ve managed to make themselves unpalatable to nearly everyone except white conservative voters, but the anti-immigration rhetoric coming from candidates who are scrambling to the far right is a problem that will likely haunt the GOP for years to come.
As conservative politicians continue to pander to the shrinking demographic that laments the impending loss of white majority America, they further alienate Latino voters for their short-term gain, and the long-term loss for the Republican Party.
Now, a study by Latino Decisions shows that in order for the GOP to win the White House in 2016, they will need at least 47% of Latino voters to vote for the Republican candidate – and it is only going to get harder with every election cycle in the future. The study specifically points out how candidates like Donald Trump are driving away Latinos, at the expense of the GOP in the long-term.
More generally, our model accentuates the tension between the Republican Party’s long-term viability and the short-term goals of the party’s presidential aspirants. Sensing that the party’s Latino deficit is too large or that any moderation on immigration may undermine their ability to win the nomination, a number of candidates have already tacked to the right on immigration. Others have been unwilling to criticize the most strident anti-immigrant voices emanating from the field. Indeed, only long-shot candidate Senator Lindsey Graham seems to grasp the damage that the party’s latest fount of an anti-immigrant sentiment, Donald Trump, is inflicting on the party’s prospects in 2016 and beyond. Meanwhile, just one Republican, Ben Carson, spoke at last month’s Annual Meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), and at her association’s meeting, Janet Murguía, the head of the National Council of La Raza, went so far as to call out the Republican Party for its failure to repudiate Trump’s comments.
Nearly four years later, the Republican Party appears to look a lot like the party described in the Republican National Committee’s “Growth and Opportunity Project” report. You know, the report that found that “Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.” Meanwhile, a 40 percent threshold becomes a 47 percent threshold and every month over 50,000 Latinos celebrate their 18th birthdays. (Source)
The future doesn’t look good for the Republican Party when it comes to Latino voters, and they have only themselves to blame. While Democrats are welcoming voters across the demographic board, Republican candidates are doubling down on extreme rhetoric in order to win primaries and bring out the base. That approach presents a political Catch-22 situation for candidates in many states since they need the angry white vote to win the primaries, but by appealing to these voters, they have created hours and hours of video which can then be used against the party in the general election.
In 2012, Mitt Romney only got 23% of the Latino vote as his campaign lost in an electoral college blowout to President Obama. He may have had more of a chance if he hadn’t run so far to the right in the primaries and made comments about getting undocumented immigrants to “self deport,” a statement that RNC chairman Reince Priebus called “horrific.” This time around, Donald Trump is making it extremely difficult for the GOP to get to 23%, let alone 47%.
Tonight, Republican presidential hopefuls will appear on the Fox News debate in Cleveland, all hoping to capture the attention of primary voters. In order to do so, they will likely throw out the usual talking points which include demonizing immigrants. This may win them support in red state primaries, but it will hurt them with Latino voters, and doom the Republican Party once again in 2016.
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