April 4, 2012 Can the GOP win without getting more Latino votes?
Or to put it another way: does it have a Latino problem that urgently needs to be solved, say by a Latino running mate for Romney or a more pro-immigration position?
How could we test the theory. Two ways:
1. If the GOP couldn’t win without a huge step forward in Latino votes, then the Latino Republican vote (relative to the Anglo vote) would be lower in elections that Republicans lost (say, 2008) than in elections where Republicans won (say, 2010).
The exit polls tell us: in 2008, the GOP share of the Latino vote was 31 percent- 24 points behind its share of the Anglo vote. In 2010, the GOP share of the Latino vote was 38 percent- 22 points behind its share of the Anglo vote. My lesson from this: the Republican Latino vote is nearly always be 20-25 pts behind its Anglo vote whether its a good election year or a bad year. Thus, it can win without increasing its share of the Latino vote relative to the white vote.
2. If the GOP did worse with Latinos when it was relatively pro-immigration (say, if it nominated a relatively pro-immigration Presidential candidate) than it years where it was supposedly “tougher” on immigration In 2010, the Republicans were more hard-line. In 2008, they nominated the formerly pro-immigration* John McCain. Either way, they got the same share of the Latino vote relative to the white vote. So its not clear that the Republican position on immigration matters either.
Bottom line: Romney can take a hard line on immigration and not pander to Hispanics any more than most Republican candidates did in 2010, and he can do just as well as they did in 2010.
*Though he has moved right on the issue since 2008.