America is getting more and more Latino — in the last decade, the country's Latino population grew by 43 percent, topping 50 million people, according to the Census. Around 16 percent of the U.S. population is now Latino. And this dramatic growth could prove to be a big problem for the Republican Party, as Latino voters tend to disproportionately support Democrats. In 2008, for example, 67 percent of Latino voters backed President Obama. Only 31 percent voted for John McCain. Could the rapid growth of America's Latino population imperil the Republican Party's electoral odds?
Yes. The Hispanic vote will be pivotal from now on: This shift in demographics will be "downright frightening" for GOP strategists, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post, especially when you look at how it breaks down. Seven "reliably red states" — Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee — have seen the Hispanic population double in the last 10 years. Republicans need to start figuring out how to win over Latino voters, fast.
"The Republicans' Hispanic problem"
No. Republicans can still attract Latino voters: Republicans have a lot in common with Latinos, says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, quoted by the Christian Science Monitor. We share "similar ideals and principles," such as the importance of "freedom, family, an entrepreneurial spirit, and access to a quality education." If we can connect on those issues, we may yet find Latinos embracing the GOP.
"Can Republicans salvage the Hispanic vote?"
Then Republicans should abandon their anti-immigration rhetoric: The GOP's prospects amongst Latino voters don't look good, says Suzy Khimm at Mother Jones, "particularly given the party's hard right turn on immigration." The kind of "hardline" stance adopted in Arizona, for example, will "not only alienate Hispanics, but also non-Hispanic swing voters who are put off by the party line." But if moderate Republicans can start a reasonable dialogue on immigration, all may not be lost.
"The GOP's Russell Pearce problem"
The Democrats have reason to worry, too: The Left shouldn't just take Latino support for granted, says Brooklyn Bad Boy at the Daily Kos. This "working class, largely Catholic" voting bloc will want "more economically progressive, but more socially conservative" policies — pretty much the opposite of what today's Democratic Party offers. Appealing to Latinos by saying "We aren't as bad as Republicans" has got the Left this far. But it won't work forever.
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