A number of Republican pundits are trying to convince us (and, I suspect, themselves) that even though all of George W. Bush's huffing and puffing after the Hispanic vote ended up with Latinos giving Al Gore a 62% to 35% landslide, the GOP should only redouble its efforts. Here are some of their notions, with commentary.
Say what? The Hispanic vote in California went 68% to 29% for Gore. The state's Republicans are now so short of credible and willing candidates that an L.A. Times columnist is talking up as a plausible Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2002: Sonny Bono's widow! [Now on Deck for the California GOP Team: Mary Bono - Los Angeles Times]
An elementary statistical fallacy. (No-one said immigration enthusiasts can count). You can get large percentage increases when you start with a small base - but you're still left with a small total. And a landslide defeat.
Marginally true - but look at the electoral math of a fast growing bloc vote. Unless the Republicans can gain Hispanic share faster than the number of Hispanic voters grow, they lose ground overall. The number of Hispanic voters roughly doubled between 1992 and 2000. So, despite his marginally increased share among Hispanics, Dubya lost by more votes among them in 2000 than Poppy did in 1992.
This pattern is only going to get worse as the GOP runs into diminishing returns with Hispanics. Short of nominating Jennifer López for Vice President, what else exactly can the Republicans do to lure Latinos beyond what Bush did ... and still remain Republicans?
Bush did better than Dole did among the overall electorate, too. Dubya had, among other advantages over Dole, a pulse. Bob Dole was one helluva man in his prime, but 1996 was not exactly his prime.
Also, keep in mind that Bush wasted a lot of time and money campaigning and advertising in California, with its huge Hispanic population. It maybe brought him some Latino votes - although, strikingly, he did worse that Pete Wilson in 1994 - but he should have focused on Florida instead. In contrast, Dole sensibly blew off California almost completely.
Despite pandering to Hispanics relentlessly, Dubya performed worse than Reagan did in 1984, when he got 37%. The Hispanic electorate has changed a lot over the years, and not for the better from the Republican Party's point of view.
Partly because, during Operation Wetback, Eisenhower deported huge numbers of the poorest Mexicans (i.e., the ones most inclined to have voted Democratic if they had been allowed to stick around and become citizens.) Back then, Mexican Americans were simply a different, more assimilated group.
This appears to be the best-case scenario that Republicans can come up with. But just keep in mind: it took two or three generations - and the 1920s immigration cut-off - for Italian-Americans to turn Republican. In the meantime, they were part of the backbone of the Democratic Hegemony that lasted from 1932 to 1968 in the White House, and all the way up to 1994 in the House of Representatives.
Sure, but among Texan whites, Bush won by an incredible 73% to 34%. (The man is really popular in Texas. I guess he must grow on you.) So Dubya did 30 points worse among Hispanics than among whites in Texas.
If Bush had carried 73% of the white vote in each state, he would have won over 500 electoral votes ... even if not a single non-white had voted for him.
Hey, maybe the GOP should try that strategy instead - it couldn't fail any more decisively.
November 21, 2000