The dwindling number of Republicans who still think they can glide into 2016 without first addressing their profound “Latino Problem” are in for a rude awakening.
Today, Chuck Todd lifts up a new MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll highlighting just how toxic the Republican brand has become to Latino voters. While this booming voting bloc has roughly the same ideological breakdown as the rest of the nation at large, far fewer of them are willing to identify as Republicans — and this divide soars into the triple-digits.
Democrats enjoy a 31-point advantage in party ID among Latinos, 47%-16%, with 36% identifying themselves as independents. That’s compared with Democrats having 7-point advantage among all voters in the poll. But get this: Political ideology among Latinos is almost identical to all voters.
- Latinos: 27% liberal, 39% moderate, 35% conservative
- All voters: 29% liberal, 35% moderate, 36% conservative
In other words, there are PLENTY of conservative Latinos. They’re just not willing to identify themselves as Republicans. Here’s another way to look at this, according to the Marist pollsters who conducted the poll:
- Among all national adults who identify themselves as conservative: 50% are Republicans, 31% are independent, and 17% are Democrats
- Among Latinos who identify themselves as conservative: just 23% are Republicans, 49% are independent, and 26% are Democrats.
We’ve been warning Republicans for years that it’ll take more than a superficial shout-out during Hispanic Heritage Month to make themselves politically-viable to Latinos again. But then last Congress, we watched Republicans foolishly Thelma-and-Louise themselves off the demographic cliff rather than address the clear mandate from the American people to finally fix our nation’s broken immigration system.
And after taking control of Congress in 2015, Senate Republicans pounded the final nail in the coffin by elevating their carbon-copy of Steve King — Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama — to chair their Immigration Subcommittee. With that promotion, any semblance that Republicans would finally pass something to address the 11 million (other than mass deportation proposals) flew out the window.
(To make it clear who sets the party’s policy, Sessions even controls the Twitter handle @ImmigrationGOP).
Much to the horror of families and delight of far-right nativists, immigration has been Sessions’s pet issue for years. From attempting to derail the Senate’s 2013 immigration reform bill, to attempting to kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, to challenging President Obama’s 2014 immigration actions, Senator Sessions has been the general of the fringe anti-immigrant cavalcade from the start.
To mark the 150th anniversary of the Confederacy’s surrender to the Union, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Harold Meyerson titled, Today’s GOP is the party of Jefferson Davis, not of Lincoln. Shortly thereafter, the Post published an anti-immigrant op-ed from another GOP Jefferson, this time Senator Sessions, which railed on legal immigrants and how they supposedly hurt native-born American workers and their wages (actually, immigration reform would help increase wages for Americans, but whatever). Additionally, the op-ed attempts to position Sessions as some sort of middle-class champ, when his voting record says quite the opposite.
As a result, Republicans have never been more unpopular to Latinos (the numerous Steve-King-led mass-deportation votes in the GOP House probably haven’t helped either). Maybe it turns out attacking immigrants and their families isn’t a great outreach strategy for Republicans after all? It didn’t help the GOP brand when most of the potential Republican candidates for President flocked to Iowa to kiss King’s ring at one of the first candidates events of the year.
This matters because, as Latino Decisions has repeatedly found, over 60% of Latino voters know or are related to an undocumented immigration, hence “Latino voters are tied to the undocumented community, this issue is personal. This is THE essential reason immigration is a gateway issue for Latino voters.”
Last November, after President Obama announced his immigration executive actions, Latino Decisions found 89% of Latino voters supported the policies. Since then, the entire GOP hierarchy has fought against it. In Congress, Republicans flirted with shutting down the Department of Homeland Security as a tool to end the actions. 26 GOP Governors and Attorneys General have pursued a court case to block the actions. And, on the 2016 trail, all of the candidates repeatedly rail against those actions.
National Republicans might be collectively scratching their heads about why they just can’t seem to attract Latinos to their so-called Big Tent. But if Republicans are looking for the honest-to-God truth, they need look no further than who is checking papers at the entrance to figure out why.