Analysis: The GOP's 'Hispanic Problem' May Be Bigger Than It Appears

As we noted a few weeks ago President Obama performed especially well on Election Day in the Monied Burbs, where he won by seven percentage points, and in the Boom Towns. Mr. Obama lost the Boom Towns by nine points, but still did far better than Sen. John Kerry did in 2004, when the Massachusetts senator lost them by 17 points.

The numbers in the above chart may help explain what drove Mr. Obama's improvements over Mr. Kerry in those places. The Hispanic population in the Monied Burbs grew by some 4 percentage points in between 2006 and 2010. In the Boom Towns the growth was larger, 6 percent. (We have written in more in-depth reporting of how many Hispanics moved to Boom Town counties as they were growing to work the construction jobs there.)

The numbers in the chart would also help explain Mr. Obama's smaller improvement vis-a-vis Mr. Kerry in the Service Worker Center counties. Mr. Obama lost those places by 10 points in 2012, only slightly better than Mr. Kerry's 12-point loss in them in 2004. But the Hispanic population in the Service Worker Centers has climbed by only 1 percentage point since 2006.

The growth of Hispanics in the Burbs and Boom Towns should be especially troubling to the GOP because of where those counties hold big segments of the electorate – swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Colorado. The growth in those places not only means they have more Hispanics, but that the non-Hispanic population in them is growing better acquainted with their new neighbors. Hispanics are becoming more common in those places, more a "normal" part of the population.

None of this is an argument that the nation's shifting ethnic landscape offers the only explanation of the vote changes we have seen in the past few elections. It may not even offer the best one. We have noted in several posts recently how the Republican Party's strong embrace of issues designed to win over social conservatives could be driving some of the GOP's problems in more moderate communities.

But comparing the footprint of the nation's growing Hispanic population with the most recent election results suggests the Republican Party's problem with Hispanic voters is not only big, it is growing and becoming a problem in areas that are crucial to winning statewide and national elections.

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