Republican Party in Trouble With Latinos

PHOTO: In this Sept. 4, 2012 file photo, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his brother Joaquin Castro, right, wave to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Republicans have had only halting success recruiting future Latino leaders.J. Scott Applewhite, File/AP Photo
In this Sept. 4, 2012 file photo, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his brother Joaquin Castro, right, wave to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Republicans have had only halting success recruiting future Latino leaders, even as the importance of the Hispanic vote increases with each election.

Two conservative groups, Resurgent Republic and the Hispanic Leadership Network, released results from a joint survey of Latino voter trends in four states – Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico - on Wednesday, and the results are sobering for the Republican Party.

The survey, conducted by telephone in both English and Spanish between November 28 and December 7, polled 400 Hispanics in each state. Respondents were randomly selected from a sample of Hispanic voters who cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election.

See Also: Survey Spells Out GOP's Latino Issues

Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who analyzed the survey results, cautioned that the results do not represent the Latino population overall. Latino registered voters who actually cast ballots tend to be better educated, older, wealthier and not first-generation immigrants, meaning they are more likely to be born in the United States than Latinos in general.

Keeping that in mind, the survey still presented some information worth considering:

1. Between 53 and 56 percent of those surveyed in all four states said the Republican Party was anti-immigrant. And while between 68 and 79 percent said the Democratic Party makes an effort to win Hispanic votes, less than 16 percent of those surveyed in each state said the same thing about the Republican Party.

2. Only between 25 and 32 percent of those surveyed said they would consider both Republican and Democratic candidates in 2016. That's around the same percentage of Latino voters Romney garnered in the presidential election, and well below the 40 percent of the "Latino vote" strategists argue a Republican candidate needs to win to become president.

3. Latinos favor Democrats on issues across the board, including on which party is better situated to help small businesses, a category Republicans have traditionally dominated.

4. Latino Republican officials are more popular than the party overall, however, and a lot of that has to do with name recognition. Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed in Florida have a very favorable or somewhat favorable view of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, largely thought to be a widely recognized Latino conservative. And more than 50 percent of those surveyed in New Mexico have a favorable or somewhat favorable view of their Republican governor, Susana Martinez. The approval numbers for Governor Brian Sandoval were similar in Nevada. However, at least 30 percent of those asked about Rubio outside of Florida had never heard of him. The figure is worse for Martinez. Outside of New Mexico, at least 55 percent of those surveyed had never heard of her, and outside of Nevada, at least 70 percent had never heard of Sandoval.

If any of the three decide to run for higher office, they will have to aggressively reach out to the Hispanic community to win a significant percentage of the Latino vote. People aren't likely to vote for a candidate if they don't even recognize the name.

5. The Obama camp excelled at Latino outreach, and it was a weak spot for the Romney campaign. Of those surveyed in Florida, 32 percent said they had been contacted five times or more by the Obama campaign. That number was 47 percent in Colorado, 25 percent in New Mexico and 50 percent in Nevada. Only 30 percent of the Floridians surveyed were contacted by the Romney campaign that many times. About 31 percent said the same in Colorado, 19 percent in New Mexico and 33 percent in Nevada.

6. While increased outreach would likely lead to increased turnout for the GOP, that alone is not enough. Latinos tend to be more liberal on social issues than most Republican candidates, and as with the overall population, younger Latinos are more liberal than older generations.

So while the results of the survey already warrant concern from the Republican Party, realistically, Latinos overall are even more likely to be liberal. And while it's true that younger Latinos, like younger people in general, vote at lower rates, Democrats have proven especially adept at mobilizing young voter through social media and other forms of outreach.

As former Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) said at a news conference on Wednesday to discuss the survey results, "Mitt Romney won the 2004 election, but that wasn't who showed up."

Ayres, who also attended the conference, echoed Coleman.

"We need a new business model and a new product to sell to a new America," he said.