GOP Hispano-Pander Failing – Except Maybe For Bush Dynasty
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Remember the Wall Street Journal article ("Party Outreach to Hispanics Pays Dividends for President" May 21, 2002) [access requires subscription] claiming President Bush's strategy of pandering to Hispanics was paying off in greater support among them for him and his policies? It seemed too good to be true. And it was.

The WSJ relied on a May 2002 Bendixen poll of "800 registered Latino voters" taken for the New Democrat Network and N.J. Democrat Rep. Bob Menendez. But Ruy Teixeira of The Century Foundation in its most recent Public Opinion Watch takes a look at the same data and comes to quite different conclusions. The Century Foundation is an old progressive stalwart and Teixeira is no doubt doing some spinning of its own. Still, his interpretation looks more realistic.

The Bendixen poll has Hispanics preferring Gore over Bush in a hypothetical rematch by 46 to 44% (note: Bush still loses), in contrast to 2000 VNS exit polls that had Gore over Bush among Hispanics by 62 to 35%. This is the seismic shift the WSJ trumpeted as proof that the great GOP Hispano-pander is working.

What Teixeira did that the WSJ didn't is put this seeming boost in the context of Bush's (transitory?) higher ratings since September 11.

Teixeira points out Bush and Gore were basically even among all voters in 2000, while Gore had a 27% margin among Hispanics. In the 2002 Bendixen poll Gore has a 2% margin over Bush among Hispanics, but the average 2002 Gore-Bush hypothetical match-up gives Bush a 36% margin among voters overall. So Gore's margin among Hispanics is 38 percentage points better than among voters overall. In relative terms, then, Gore would actually do 11-percentage points better against Bush among Hispanics today than he did in 2000. While one may quibble with Teixeira 's methodology – the Gore-Bush spread among whites vs. Hispanics would make the point clearer - this is not a story the Wall Street Journal or Karl Rove would want us to read.

Just to make sure we don't miss the point, Teixeira cites other data from the Bendixen poll that the Wall Street Journal's headline didn't hint at. On a variety of issues identified as "important to the Hispanic community," here are the margins by which Hispanics prefer the Democrats to the Grand Old Panderparty:

Supporting the "Latino community" 34%;

Health care 30%;

Helping small business [remember Republican appeals to "Latino entrepreneurship"?] 29%;

Education 21%;

Economy and jobs 19%;

Family and moral values [remember Republican appeals to "Latino social conservatism"?] 14%;

Relations with Latin America 13%;

and, last but not least, immigration issues 31%.

To twist the knife, Teixeira reminds us that Hispanics preferred Democratic congressional candidates in 2000 by a 29% margin. In 2002, the Bendixen poll has Hispanics preferring Democratic congressional candidates by – wait for it! - 30%.

Pretty short tails on Dubya's abrigo. [VDARE.COM note for linguistically incorrect readers: abrigo is Spanish for coat.]

Teixeira also notes that an August 2001 AFL-CIO poll had Gore over Bush among Hispanics by 25% - no real change from the election. September 11th hadn't happened yet, but Bush had been pandering like mad since long before his inauguration. Teixeira's conclusion:

Bush was making no progress before September 11 and then afterward there was a sudden shift in his direction. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that the shift toward Bush among Hispanics is mostly, if not entirely, a rally effect and a relatively small one to boot... [A]s the rally effect dissipates over time, as it already is doing, Hispanics likely will move back to a strongly pro-Democratic presidential stance.

Hard, indeed.


Steve Sailer adds:

All I would add to Howard Sutherland's excellent analysis of the WSJ article are these three points:

  • It always makes political sense for a President to emphasize "wedge issues" that illustrate the differences between his party and the other party (assuming more voters agree with him than the other guys). It never makes sense for a President to emphasize an issue that drives a wedge into his own party the way Bush's amnesty-for-Mexican ploy is doing - especially when most voters think it's a bad idea.
  • Neither the President, nor Karl Rove, nor the press, seem to understand how tiny the Mexican-American vote actually is. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Mexican-Americans cast only 3.0% of the vote in 2000, up from 2.6% in 1996. To put this in perspective, the Census Bureau's interviews of 50,000 households right after the 2000 election found that African-Americans comprised 11.5% and non-Hispanic whites 80.7% of the electorate.Further, 72% of Mexican-American voters in 2000 lived in California or Texas. Neither of these states will be up for grabs in a close election in 2004.  If Bush is near to winning California or losing Texas, he will be winning or losing the national election in a landslide. In the other 48 states, Mexican-Americans cast a measly 1.1% of the vote.
  • So why is Bush doing it? My theory: because Mexican amnesty is good politics for the Bush family from a dynastic point of view.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush is younger, smarter, taller, more articulate, harder working, and better looking than George W.  Jeb will be 55 in 2008 and 63, the age at which is father was elected President, in 2016 - which is about when the Mexican-American vote will finally start to be significant (assuming immigration is not stopped). Jeb speaks excellent Spanish, has a degree in Latin American Studies, a Mexican-born wife, and lots of useful contacts with rich Mexican power-brokers. Indeed, Jeb used to vacation at the ranch of Raul Salinas, who was known as "Mr. 10%" for his habit of demanding a one tenth cut of all contracts during his brother Carlos's lucrative term as President of Mexico.

(Unfortunately, Raul Salinas isn't hosting any Bushes at the moment. He's serving a 27-year prison term for murdering his ex-brother-in-law. Meanwhile, Raul's wife got herself in a spot of trouble when she attempted to withdraw the $100 million in cash she and her husband had stashed in a Swiss safety deposit box.)

Jeb's three half-Mexican children include the handsome George P. Bush (a hunky cross between JFK Jr. and Ricky Martin, according to People en Espanol magazine). George P. says he has no immediate plans to enter politics. But we can be forgiven for guessing that the elder Bushes have him mentally penciled in as President Bush the Fourth, round about 2028. The young man campaigned in Spanish for his uncle in 2000 like this:

"This is a President who represents the diversity of our society, who we can count on to change the Republican Party to represent our views," said [George P. Bush] … He told the rally his mother had instilled him the values of Cesar Chavez, the Chicano activist who fought for the rights of migrant farmworkers in the United States. "She told me we have to fight for our race, we have to find the leaders who represent us," he said in fluent Spanish.

Reuters, August 2, 2000.

This, then, is the only logical explanation why George W. has spent so much effort on a wedge issue that threatens to split his own party. He thinks the long-run fate of his dynasty demands a new, improved Republican Party – and a new, debased America.

June 07, 2002

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