Monday, July 9, 2012

Can Romney Get 30% of Hispanic Vote?

Thirty percent seems like a modest goal, but a host of new polling reports show President Obama winning two-thirds of Hispanic voters nationally, including in Colorado.  The latest poll from a group called Latino Decisions shows 70 percent of Colorado’s Hispanic voters support Obama and 22 percent for Mitt Romney.
As the McClatchy Newspapers quoted:  “In Colorado, ‘If Romney gets 30 percent he’ll be pleased.’  Romney has one possible advantage: During the February caucus, he was painted as the centrist in the race, losing to conservative Rick Santorum.” (Floyd Ciruli; David Lightman, reporter)

Romney’s challenge is that Hispanic voters are most likely to identify as Democratic due to their social economic status, many attitudes, such as preference for government solutions and their local political leadership being mostly Democratic.
Romney benefits from having a less extreme image overall and his recent attempts to distance himself from his own and some elements of the Republican Party’s harsh positions on immigration.
“Romney still has time to make a difference to trim Obama’s lead among Hispanics if he presents a compelling and clear message, says Denver political analyst and pollster Floyd Ciruli.
‘I think there’s a competition between Obama and Mitt Romney over how big that percentage is.  Clearly the Democrats will win it (in Colorado.)  But there’s a difference,’ Ciruli says. ‘The difference between 60 percent and 70 percent is about 20,000 votes. It’s not a small number.  Republicans are definitely interested in it.’
While immigration reform generally ranks third in importance among Hispanics – after jobs and the economy, and education – it’s an issue that remains crucial in the election. Republicans need a solutions-oriented approach, Ciruli says.
‘It doesn’t have to be what the activists in the civil rights community want.  But there has to be some type of approach there because it really is nearly a litmus test issue,’ he says. ‘Before people will pay attention to you, they have to feel that you are at least sympathetic to the plight of millions of people who are undocumented and to the impact it is having on the entire system.  That will be Romney’s challenge.  What he has going for him is that Hispanic voters, just like and in fact even more so than Anglo voters, are worried about the economy.  And he has an economic platform.’
‘George W. Bush came out of a Texas culture that had a high comfort level with the Hispanic community, which has been in Texas longer than the Anglo community,’ Ciruli says.  ‘He had a tough immigration position.  He also was looking for solutions and reached across the aisle.  That’s what it takes.  He ran in some of his elections at 50 percent of the Hispanic community.  And in the presidential election, he had 40 percent.  That shows it can be done.’”  (Mike Cote, Colorado Biz Magazine)
Hispanics are more concerned about the economy and health care than immigration, and the public at large, including Republicans, are more positive about immigrants than in recent years.  No doubt, a function of the dramatic drop in illegal immigration from south of the border.

But, Romney’s potential for upside support is still limited due to Hispanic voters, especially in the West orientation to liberalism and their own Democratic Party leaders.

Obama’s challenge is that in an effort to raise turnout, he doesn’t move so far to the left as to anger independent and moderate voters who are very much in the center on immigration issues.
Latino Decisions: New Poll: Obama leads Romney among Latinos in key 2012 battleground states
USA Today/Gallup Poll:  Latinos strongly backing Obama
Gallup:  Americans more positive about immigration
Gallup:  Hispanic voters favor gov’t involvement to solve problems
Gallup:  Hispanic voters put other issues before immigration
Real Clear Politics:  Obama’s puzzling immigration decision
Washington Post:  The Fix: Obama’s immigration decision turns off voters in three swing states
Colorado Biz Magazine:  Courting the Latino vote in a swing state

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