Saturday, June 15, 2024

GOP Finds it Difficult to Find Hispanic Support

In 2008, two-thirds of Latinos in the country voted for Barack Obama.  His historical campaign erased any advances that had been made by the Republican Party during the Bush administration to woo Hispanic voters and solidified this bloc in the Democratic column.

According to a poll by the Pew Hispanic Center, over the course of the last decade, a consistent majority of Hispanics have supported Democrats.   This is a statistic that worries Republicans particularly in places like Texas, a state that by many counts, could gain as many as four additional congressional seats following the 2010 Census.

A month ago, a Republican Latin vying for statewide office blamed his primary loss on a party bias against Hispanic.  As previously reported in La Plaza ( La Plaza) Victor Carrillo, the incumbent Railroad Commissioner, was handed an unexpected and lopsided defeat by a relatively unknown, under-funded challenger in the recent GOP primary.  After the election, Mr. Carrillo himself suggested that voters were probably driven to his opponent, David Porter, because of his Anglo surname.

Political experts say the GOP has had two constant problems: inconsistency in its courtship of Hispanics and inflammatory rhetoric on immigration.

Victories in congressional runoffs last week by candidates Bill Flores in Central Texas and Francisco “Quico” Canseco in South Texas, both of whom are Republican, complicate the question of whether the GOB can consistently win Hispanic votes or whether these are anomalies.

Frank Santos, executive director of the Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs, a bipartisan group of Hispanic legislative leaders says, “There needs to be a sustained effort for it to matter because there are issues in the Republican Party that really resonate with the Hispanic population.”

Sylvia Manzano, an expert at on Latino politics at Texas A&M University says, “The Latino population today is not the same as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. The composite parts are different. So, Latinos don’t necessarily have the frame of reference that they owe a loyalty or some indebtedness to a particular party.”

Political experts said George W. Bush was effective as a governor in reaching out to conservative Hispanics in Texas, and a recent poll by a national group of Hispanic legislative leaders shows that many Hispanics identify themselves as conservatives, especially on social issues.

Despite their wins, Republicans Flores and Canseco face tough general elections against incumbent Democrats Chet Edwards and Ciro Rodriguez.  What is certain is that winning these seats will be dependant on turning out the Latino vote.

Dallas Morning News