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November 23, 2014

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GOP tough talk on immigration turned off Hispanic voters in 2012

Polls shows GOP can make inroads with right steps

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Evan Vucci / AP

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands with President Barack Obama before the start of the third presidential debate on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla.

In a postmortem analysis of the 2012 presidential election, polling firm Latino Decisions suggested Wednesday that while President Barack Obama did extremely well among Hispanic voters, Democrats cannot be complacent about that segment of the population and Republicans have room for growth with Hispanic voters, especially if they collaborate with their colleagues across the aisle on immigration reform.

Also Wednesday, in a blog on Latino Decisions, UNLV political scientist David Damore focused in on the GOP's path forward in Nevada with Hispanic voters.

In a conference call with reporters, Stanford professor and Latino Decisions pollster Gary Segura said 2012 marked a watershed moment for the Hispanic electorate.

“For the first time in American history the Latino vote could plausibly claim to be decisive (in the presidential election),” Segura said, noting that if GOP candidate Mitt Romney had boosted his share of the Hispanic electorate from the 23 percent he got to 42 percent, he would have won the popular vote.

Segura did find positives in the date for the Republican Party. First, there are almost as many potential Hispanic voters, 11.1 million, as there are Hispanic voters who actually voted in 2012, 12.2 million. That means there are 11.1 million Hispanics who are eligible to vote, but either chose not to or are not registered, whom either party can engage.

Hispanic voters are much more flexible than white voters and black voters in between elections. Between 2004 an 2012, 17 percent of Hispanic voters switched from voting for the GOP nominee (George W. Bush) to a Democratic nominee. Meanwhile, only 4 percent of white voters switched and 3 percent of black voters.

“Latinos are the most moveable electorate,” Segura said.

While Romney was viewed much less favorably among Hispanic voters than Obama, 23 percent of those polled said the president doesn't care about the issues affecting the Hispanic community.

“There is room for Republican growth and room for seepage out of the Democratic column if (Democrats) don't take care,” Segura said.

Segura noted that a turning point for Obama appeared to be the June 15, 2012, announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed some young immigrants without a legal residency status to remain in the country and receive work permits. More than half of Hispanic voters said that move made them more enthusiastic about the president. Conversely, Romney's comments on immigrants "self-deporting" led 57 percent of Hispanic voters to say they were less enthusiastic about the former Massachusetts governor.

“The key point of Latino Decisions analysis is the votes the Republican Party has left on the table because they were following the anti-immigrant playbook of (Rep.) Lamar Smith (R - Texas) and (Rep.) Steve King (R - Iowa),” said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America's Voice, a Washington-based lobbying group that supports comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship.

In Nevada, the results of those two policy decisions were reflective of the national reaction among Hispanic voters. In a poll of registered Nevada Hispanic voters 61 percent said Romney's “self-deport” comment made them less enthusiastic about him as a candidate, while 61 percent of those polled said Obama's deferred action program made them more enthusiastic about the incumbent.

“First, within Nevada's Latino community there are few if any subpopulations where the Republican Party has a foothold,” Damore concludes. “Two, the GOP's policy agenda is inconsistent with the preferences of most Latino voters in the state. Third, Mitt Romney's campaign made a bad situation worse.”

Damore also agreed that a big first step for the GOP would be to engage in a constructive discussion on comprehensive immigration reform.

“Nationally, the most obvious action that the GOP can take to build goodwill would be to play a constructive role in the passage of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,” Damore wrote. “If this were done, a third of Nevada Latinos indicated that they would be more likely to vote Republican in the future.”

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  1. The Republicans are making a big mistake if they think going along with a legalization of illegal aliens will get them more Hispanic votes. The majority of Hispanics have always voted for Democratics and they won't start voting for Republicans because of this.

    We are loyal Republicans but we will stop voting (seriously) if the Republicans help pass any legalization of illegal aliens.

  2. RECENT survey in Nevada: 2 out of 3 AMERICANS will not accept any form of amnesty. So who are these alleged (legal?) voters the Dems are hyping?

  3. Since illegal entry into the US IS a federal crime it is not needed to duplicate such a law.

    Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, all employers are required to verify both the identity and employment eligibility of all regular, temporary employees, temporary agency personnel, and student employees hired after November 6, 1986, and complete and retain a one-page form (INS Form I-9) documenting this verification.

    Employers who hire and illegal immigrant workers are liable to both civil and criminal punishment.

    I am an Anglo native citizen, yet I had to fill out the I-9 forms at my workplace. Don't or didn't you? If not, why not? If not, your employer is or was not compliant with the law. Are you willing to challenge your employer? Did you challenge your employer?

    I agree that E-Verify should be mandatory for all employers, and the federal government needs to ensure that is an accurate reasonably fast process.

    Punishment for employer non-compliance needs to be enforced in such a way to make it a not worth breaking the law.

    Additionally, it should be a federal law to require next of kin or legal representative to notify the federal government of the death of a family member in order to decrease identity theft for purposes of appearing to falsely be a citizen or legal resident.

  4. It is a mistake to think of Hispanics as a one issue, one party, one heritage melting pot.

    The term Hispanics is only a category for statistical classification for different uses. It is not like saying someone is an American. There are many cultural traditions within that one word...Hispanic.

    Cultural experience and values influence peoples thinking, and where one lives also influence peoples thinking.

    Thinking that all Hispanics are alike, or close to it, is a huge mistake and demonstrates ignorance, as is thinking Hispanics can be manipulated into one party or another. Most are smarter than many non-Hispanics think.

    We can easily see that there are many ways of viewing the US, and the issues. Hispanics have many views and are capable of voting on their values and views, regardless of political parties. If immigration reform matches their values and views they will support it. If not, they will not support it. It is the same for most people of all categories.

    As far as immigration reform goes, it must be remembered that undocumented immigrants are not limited to Hispanics. There are other ethnic classifications that are interested in what happens with immigration reform.

  5. I support amnesty with a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants in the US for at least 5 years.

    All others must follow the normal process for legal immigration.

    I also support mandatory enforcement of employers to follow the current laws requiring verification of documented legal status of all employees to work in the US. That includes full implementation of e-Verify.

    I also support recognition of and a more reasonable process for refugees fleeing oppressive countries.

  6. The tough talk GOT OUT THE VOTE of many with a little mathematical ability. Illegals are destroying our economy and continue to do so. The feds / Obamaites endorse the WRONG THINGS to do so that we can pay for it at the local level: K-12 for illegals (upwards of 50,000 illegal students in CCSD alone), free vaccines, free ER, stolen UMC ongoing treatment for chronic conditions, stealing our jobs, destroying our cultures, crime for cash, stealing social welfare benefits via I.D. theft. How else do the Moms afford the Cadillac Escalades and iphones to network and get to every food bank and Craig's Listed giveaway.

  7. A recent media poll in Nevada showed 2 out of 3 of his want NO FORM OF AMNESTY. So even if some Hispanics want to import more illegal relatives, AMERICANS don't want it.