Liberal pundits are still crowing about the huge advantage Barack Obama had among Hispanic voters in his recent re-election. In fact, many have already pronounced the Republican Party dead on arrival in national elections because of its failure to appeal to Hispanic voters—the fastest growing voting bloc in America. According to The Washington Times, “A popular postmortem of the 2012 election is that demography is destiny…Liberal pundits saw the election as another milestone in the march toward a ‘majority-minority’ country in which whites will be marginalized and Republicans doomed to demographic extinction.”
The demography-as-destiny theory looks good on paper, but a closer look will reveal that it is full of holes. In fact, demography will keep liberals in office only if Democrats can keep Hispanics poor, something they are trying hard to do. Because 71 percent of the Hispanic vote went to Obama in the recent presidential election, liberals are making the mistake of thinking that Hispanics vote solely on the basis of skin color. In reality, the facts suggest a different story, a story in which the better Hispanics fare economically the less likely they are to vote for liberal Democrats. Hence, the Democrats’ need to keep Hispanics poor—something they are doing well.
Two good friends of mine, a husband and wife, legally emigrated from Puerto Rico to pursue the American dream, a dream they achieved by working hard, working smart, and working long. They hold to traditional American values and are both politically-engaged conservative Christians. In every election, they vote for the most conservative candidates on the ballot and work hard to stay informed of the issues themselves and to keep their friends and neighbors informed. They are ardently opposed to government handouts that turn able-bodied people into dependent victims because they have seen what the entitlement mentality has done to so many of their friends and family members who still live in Puerto Rico. In short, these two friends of mine represent the Democrat Party’s worse nightmare.
My friends are not exceptions among Hispanics. In fact, they reflect a trend that research into this issue bears out: because hard work, faith, and family are important to Hispanics, the better they do economically the more likely they are to vote for conservative candidates. According to The Washington Times, “As Hispanics follow the course of other immigrant groups and achieve higher average income levels, they will begin to differentiate their votes accordingly. This dynamic is evident already. Among Hispanic households with less than $30,000 in income, 70 percent are Democrat to 15 percent Republican. Among those earning $75,000 or more, the split is 55 percent to 38 percent. The uncomfortable conclusion for Democrats is that they can best win the demographic race by keeping Hispanics poor.”
President George W. Bush received 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 because the economy was doing well and he spoke out on issues that are important to Hispanic voters: hard work, faith, and family. What this means for Republicans is that their candidates must be frank and vocal about the Democrat’s desire to keep Hispanics poor. They must avoid pandering to Hispanic voters at the low end of the economic spectrum with Republican versions of Democrat promises. Republicans will never out promise Democrats when it comes to government handouts, and poor people know this. Instead, Republicans need to: 1) Do everything possible to help Hispanics achieve the American dream in spite of efforts to the contrary by liberals, and 2) Speak out frankly when talking to Hispanic audiences about letting themselves be exploited by Democrats who want to keep them poor. The facts are readily available if Republicans will shed their propensity for timidity and use them in a straight-forward, hard-hitting way with Hispanic voters who already share their work, faith, and family-related values.