A 23 percent jump in the Republican Latino vote in the recent midterm elections is giving the GOP hope that it can cut even deeper into the Democrats‘ hold on Hispanic voters in the upcoming presidential election. Exit polling being dissected by the Republicans shows that the Latino vote jumped from 29 percent in 2008 to 38 percent on November 2. What’s more, the vote was best in districts and states where candidates didn’t bash Latinos over issues such as immigration, a lesson Hispanic leaders hope the GOP pays attention to.
For example, in Nevada, a GOP Senate candidate depicted immigrants as criminals, and she lost their vote, say GOP analysts. In states like Florida and Texas, where Latinos were embraced, the GOP did well. “Contrary to the post-election liberal spin that Democrats dominated the Latino vote, the final numbers show that the GOP made significant gains with Latinos,” said Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. He and others say that the path to a larger Latino vote is to push for broad immigration reform, a road the GOP does not appear ready to drive down. Ironically, the same thing is being said among Democrats. Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, for example, is now urging President Obama to take up immigration reform at the start of the year.