Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to ignore demographic trends and lose elections


 I am Jack's complete lack of surprise after reading this Politico article.
Mitt Romney is on track to lose the Latino vote by a wider margin than any Republican presidential candidate in over a decade, and strategists in both parties say he may have made a bad situation worse with his selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.
As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise! Surprise!"

The Republican ticket’s dire position among Latinos has even stirred some hope among Democrats — and apprehension among some Republicans — that back-to-back smashing victories by President Barack Obama could move Latino voters in the Democratic column in a more durable way that could put the GOP at an electoral disadvantage for decades.
Forget this election, it's pretty darn obvious that demographic trends show that the latino vote is growing and is having a serious impact on elections.  Why on God's green Earth would a party purposely shooting themselves in the foot for future elections... except then I remember that the GOP has always framed themselves as the "Culture Warriors", boldly striving for a vision of the 1950s when the country is completely different six decades later...

Obama’s lead over Romney among Hispanic voters in national polling hovers around and even above the 40 percent mark. Last month, a Latino Decisions survey showed Obama touching 70 percent of the vote and leading by 48 points. An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll conducted in late July found Obama taking 67 percent of Latinos to Romney’s 23 percent. The POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll published Monday placed that lead at 62 percent to 26 percent.
In other words, Obama’s commanding lead has not diminished and may be cemented in place. Univision anchor Jorge Ramos framed the Republican dilemma in a tweet after Ryan was announced as Romney’s ticket mate: “?How can [Paul Ryan] attract the Hispanic vote? If Republicans don’t get a third of the Latino vote they won’t get the White House back.”
Ouch.  I mean... Ouch.

Ryan has the potential to be an appealing figure for some of the culturally conservative, family- and business-oriented sectors of the electorate, including Latinos. He’s a young, Catholic family man who’s as free market as they come. 
He’s also a member of a Republican Congress that many Latinos view as a hostile entity. Latino Decisions found that by a 51-point margin, Latinos oppose cuts to Medicare — an even wider margin than the electorate at large, according to some polls. A footnote to his career that could harm him with Cuban-Americans in particular: In 2009, Ryan expressed skepticism about the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, though he has since revised that stance.

He revised his medicare plan as well, but how is that working out for him? While I agree with Ryan about the Cuban embargo (why do we treat Cuba as an existential threat, when communist China has most favored nations status?), you can already imagine Obama's commercials bringing this up for the Cuban American market in Florida.

To the most optimistic Democrats, Romney’s choice of running mate points to a much starker conclusion on the Latino vote: that the Republican presidential nominee has essentially decided that he cannot make up much ground with that constituency and needs to compensate by running up his vote total with white Midwesterners and other center-right groups. 
The Romney campaign and its allies reject that idea, but there’s been little indication over the past few months that they are making a concerted push to prompt a reassessment from Latinos turned off by Romney’s primary-season rhetoric on immigration. 
He has not shifted his position on immigration in a way that could win over skeptical voters despite being urged to do just that by figures on the right as prominent as Rupert Murdoch. While Romney has run ads in Spanish, he has drawn criticism for using rough, literal translations of his English commercials — not messages developed uniquely for the Latino community. 
“The Romney campaign passing over Marco Rubio for VP could mean they think there is little they can do to win back Latino voters this year — that the community’s support for Obama is so strong that Republicans need to look elsewhere for votes,” said Texas-based Democratic strategist Ed Espinoza, a former western political director of the Democratic National Committee.

I'm have no doubts that Republicans reject that idea. They reject everything Democrats say. ;)  Seriously, it's pretty darn obvious that Romney has largely written off the latino vote and is hoping the "jobs jobs jobs" message will win the day.

Once again, I go back to Senator Marc Rubio.  He's a tea party latino who is very popular in Florida, which happens to be one of the biggest and most important swing states this election. If Romney would have chosen him for VP, it would have energized the base (ie, the tea party getting one of their own in the VP slot) but it also would have put Obama on the defensive. Instead, Romney shot himself in the foot again by giving more ammunition to Obama.

Oh well, Senator Rubio.  If the GOP ever figures out that going for the latino vote matters, then there is always four years from now...

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