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How Did the GOP Perform With Hispanic Voters In 2010?

1:50 PM, Nov 29, 2010 • By JAY COST
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Notice the GOP haul among white voters in 2010, clocking in at 60 percent. This is something that, not too long ago, some advocates of the demography-is-Democratic-destiny thesis explicitly dismissed. In the fall of 2009, Emory University's Alan Abramowitz argued that a repeat of 1994 was "highly unlikely" because "there are important differences between the makeup of the American electorate now and the makeup of the American electorate then." In part:

Based on the 2008 results and the projected racial make-up of the 2010 electorate, Republican candidates would have to win almost 60 percent of the white vote in order to win 50 percent of the overall national popular vote in 2010. That would be even more than the 58 percent of the white vote that Republican candidates received in 1994 and much more than the 54 percent of the white vote that Republican candidates received in the 2008 House elections.

Well, the Republicans won the white vote by 60 percent, and ended up exceeding by about 10 seats their 1994 haul. The broader lesson here is one that RealClearPolitics' David Paul Kuhn has been making for a while, most elaborately in his important book on the subject: The Democrats have a real problem with white voters.

So far, the Democratic advantage from the rise of Hispanic voters has been more than met by the Republicans' increasing fortunes among white voters. Indeed, the Democratic net haul among Hispanic voters from 1994 to 2010 increased by 1.1 points, while the GOP net haul among white voters increased by 3.9 points. In other words: advantage Republicans.

At least for now. It's very possible that the Democrats will continue to hold 60-70 percent of the Hispanic vote while it gets larger and larger, meanwhile they could hold 40 percent of the white vote while it gets smaller and smaller. Over time, this could result in a sustained Democratic advantage. I wouldn't necessarily put my money on that, mostly because I think holding together such a multi-racial/multi-ethnic voting coalition will be more difficult than a lot of liberal Democrats believe. But it is possible.  

This is why Republicans need to focus like a laser beam on appealing to the Hispanic bloc. Heading into 2012, I think a reasonable goal for the GOP should be to win 40 percent of the Hispanic vote -- and if party organs like the NRCC, NRSC, and RNC are not already doing it, they should be sponsoring more extensive polling investigations of the Hispanic community to find out ways in which the Republican message can be tailored to better appeal to this bloc. And perhaps most importantly, the GOP ought to recruit Hispanic candidates, who scored smashing victories in statewide contests in Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada this year.

As an analyst who is limited to public data only, there is very little I can say about which voters in the Hispanic community are more likely to vote Republican, beyond relatively obvious assertions like Cuban-Americans are more prone to support the GOP. The reason is that in a survey of 1,000 people weighted by census demographics, just about 120 Hispanics will be included, which is hardly sufficient. This rising bloc of voters deserves extensive study by conservatives and Republicans, and I hope the outlets who could be doing this kind of research are actually doing it.

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