Romney’s Latino Problem
06 Mar, 2012
Mitt Romney “is done,” DeeDee Blase, founder of Somos Republicans in Arizona, told The Associated Press. “He’ll be lucky to get 8 percent of the Hispanic vote.”
The president was already leading Romney, and all other Republican contenders, in the most recent poll of Latino-American registered voters. In that Univision poll, released last November, President Obama led Romney by a margin of 67% to 24%.
That kind of margin makes it look like the Republicans never had a shot with Latinos. But in fact, the Pew survey shows, 35% of Latino-Americans describe themselves as conservative, 32% say they’re moderate, and only 28% are self-described liberals.
There are two factors that make Romney hope for better polls ahead. First, although the president’s Latino-American support is at the same high levels that he enjoyed in 2008, their enthusiasm has waned. That makes it less likely that they’ll turn out in record numbers to vote, as they did in 2008.
The second factor is Florida, where the Republican primary looms on Jan. 31. Romney can hope for a solid showing among Latino-Americans in Florida because its Latino voters are, quite simply, different.
Dominated by people with roots in Cuba or Puerto Rico, with a substantial number of South American emigrants, they are far more likely to vote Republican.
That is why Mitt Romney is running Spanish-language commercials in Florida right now, and why he’s flourishing his unlikely Mexican roots.
One response so far is @MexicanMitt, a satirical Twitter profile featuring a fake photo of Romney wearing a sombrero.
If he wins the nomination, Romney will get plenty of support from the Republican National Committee, which has hired a director of Hispanic outreach. The effort is expected to include the “deployment” of popular Latino Republicans, including Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, to key states.
Sen. Rubio has even been mentioned as a potential vice presidential candidate.
Their job evidently involves explaining Republicans to Latino-Americans.
Phil Tua, a Puerto Rican and a Republican activist, told The Kansas City Sun Sentinel this week that Republicans have a problem. The immigration debate “has been turned into a political anti-immigrant and racist diatribe, when in reality it’s a legal question,” he said. “Because of the rhetoric, you have Puerto Ricans marching in the streets for illegal aliens.” Republican candidates are not bigoted, he said, “but they need to explain themselves better.”
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