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Wall Street Journal: Census Shows Latinos “Could Present Republicans With a Challenge”

by Mahwish Khan on 04/12/2011 at 9:09am

Wall Street Journal Interactive map of demographic changeFor some time now, we’ve been noting to our readers that the Latino population is growing – fast.  Our factual reports based off of the 2010 census are often followed by warnings, sometimes to Obama to keep his promise on passing immigration reform, but often to the GOP to soften their stance on issues that are important to Latino voters — one of which happens to be immigration reform.

Yesterday, Patrick O’Connor of the Wall Street Journal helps make our case re: these new constituents in an article aptly titled “Latino Population Surge Poses Challenge to GOP:”

The explosive growth of the Hispanic population reflected in the 2010 census will remake the electoral map—and could present Republicans with a challenge.

Republicans have broadly benefited from the nation’s continued population shift from the Northeast and Midwest to right-leaning Sun Belt states in recent decades, and those states are again expected to add seats in Congress in the next election.

But to take full advantage, Republicans will have to win over Latinos, who have fueled much of the population growth, and who lean Democratic in their voting. They accounted for 65% of the population growth in Texas over the past decade, 55% of the growth in Florida and nearly half of the population increase in Arizona and Nevada, census figures show. Those four states alone are due to add a combined eight congressional seats in the next election.

O’Connor compared population increases between 1980 and 2010. The article, which is accompanied by this trusty interactive map, shows that in each of the four regions, the white share of the population is shrinking.

Despite the changing demographics, some members of the GOP think that their positions on issues that matter to the Latino community aren’t as important as the last names of the people who are elected to represent them.  The idea, put forth primarily by Lamar Smith and his immigration subcommittee friends (notably the other two who make up the three amigos — Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Steve King (R-(IA)), is misguided and wrong.  As we’ve noted in a report that we released last week, “ATTN GOP: Latino Candidates Not Enough to Win Latino Vote:”

Republican politicians are losing Latino voters because of the Party’s stance on immigration reform.  After passing the notorious Sensenbrenner bill in 2005 and Arizona’s S.B. 1070 law in 2010, and blocking progress on comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act for the better part of ten years, Republican policymakers are seen as increasingly hostile to the Latino community, and Latinos are increasingly trending Democratic.  Latinos voted for the Democratic presidential nominee over the Republican by a margin of 59% to 40% in 2004 (Kerry-Bush) and 67% to 31% in 2008 (Obama-McCain).  The swing was even more pronounced among foreign-born Latino voters, with 52% choosing Kerry in 2004 and 48% choosing Bush—while in 2008 75% chose Obama and 25% supported McCain.  In 2010, a banner year for Republicans generally, Latinos supported Democrats over Republicans by 75%-25%, according to Latino Decisions.

But this is just another one of those blog posts, in which we have to warn someone or the other. Don’t listen to us (or O’Connor), GOP. It’s not as if you guys have ever operated on sound advice in the past. Why start now?

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