Democrats and the Myth of the "Non-White" Bloc
1:19 PM, Dec 22, 2010 • By JAY COST
I've addressed this broad argument several times before (see here, here, and here, for instance), so today I would just like to focus on this specific notion of the "non-white" bloc as it relates to the latest Census results, particularly to Texas, which is picking up four new House seats. I cannot state matters more plainly: Hispanic voters do not vote like African-American voters. The latter constitute a core Democratic group that systematically breaks 90:10 against the GOP, regardless of the political environment. Hispanic voters, on the other hand, comprise a swing group that currently tilts Democratic, but Republican candidates who are careful and considered in their appeals can make significant inroads into the Democratic margin. This is quite evident in the Lone Star State, as the following chart indicates:
On average over the last three cycles, Republican candidates have pulled in about 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. This is why Texas remains such a strongly Republican state, even though just 67 percent of statewide voters in 2010 were white.
It's worth mentioning another difference between Hispanics and African-Americans -- the latter group is uniformly Democratic across the whole country. African Americans who live in the rural South are overwhelmingly Democratic, so are those who live in the big cities in the North. Yet Hispanics are much more heterogeneous. You see above, for instance, the strength that Republican candidates have with Hispanics in Texas, and you could make a similar point about Florida. To these states we could also add New Mexico, where you really cannot win statewide without substantial Hispanic support, as well as Colorado, where John McCain won 38 percent of Hispanic voters in 2008. But Republicans do notably worse with Hispanics in California, and they are also weak with urban Hispanic voters in big Northern cities like Chicago and New York. In none of these states can the GOP reasonably expect to crack 30 percent of the Hispanic vote. Nevada, meanwhile, is a state where the GOP is slipping among Hispanics; Bush carried 39 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, but Sharron Angle won just 30 percent in 2010.
I mention all of this not hoping to persuade liberals to correct this category error -- I'm not holding my breath on that one. Instead, the message here is for conservatives not to be persuaded by the story that the left tells itself about demographic destiny. It's greatly overstated, and the rising Hispanic bloc presents conservatives, especially social conservatives, with a wealth of opportunities. What they need to do is roll up their sleeves and figure out how to make further gains with Hispanics because this is a rising group of voters that is in play. Liberals might not see it that way, but it would be a real shame if conservatives don't, either.