Jeb Bush on the Need for Hispanic Outreach
1:32 PM, Jan 11, 2011 • By JAY COST
Over the weekend, Jeb Bush wrote a very insightful editorial for the Miami Herald:
There are three crucial points here.
First, Republicans need to do better with Hispanic voters. It's just that simple. For now, pulling in less than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote is sufficient to win elections, but as more and more Hispanics enter the electorate, that number will not be enough. Remember, there is no reasonable path for the GOP to the presidency that doesn't go through Florida and Texas, both of which have significant Hispanic populations.
Second, and just as important, Republicans can do better with Hispanic voters. As I have argued before, liberals wrongly lump Hispanics into a "non-white" voting group with African-Americans when in fact the two demographics exhibit different voting patterns. African-Americans vote as a very tight bloc, supporting Democrats regardless of income level, college education, ideology, etc. This is not the case for Hispanics, which means that what Bush calls appealing to the "center right" can work. One of the unfortunate side effects, I fear, of the left's talk about demography pushing the Democrats to a never-ending majority is that it has given conservatives the false impression that they can't compete for the Hispanic vote. It's just not true, so conservatives need to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Third, doing better doesn't require mimickry of the left's brand of identity politics. Instead, conservatives need to focus on communicating their pro-growth, pro-family message more effectively. Differences in tone, style, and spirit can make a huge difference in this endeavor. The big player in all this will be the 2012 Republican nominee, who will stand a very good chance of leading the GOP through the new decade. Whoever that person is, he will absolutely have to understand the importance of the Hispanic bloc, and be willing to work hard to bring in more voters from it. On this front, I'd note with interest that the Hispanic Leadership Network is hosting its inaugural conference next week to discuss how Republicans can do better with Hispanics. Among the attendees will be likely Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty.