For quite a long time now, Republicans have tried to find ways to bring in more Latino voters into its base, but with limited success. Republican leaders stress that Latinos fit in perfectly with the base of the party for multiple reasons, however 67% of Latinos are registered Democrat. Let us look at Republican claims as to why Latinos are a perfect fit for the party and ways that they are misunderstood.
Many people assess the Latino population in the United States as a socially conservative group with deep, predominantly Catholic, values. The GOP for decades have tried to use this to their advantage due to the fact that the Republican base has similar core values. From afar it does seem like a perfect fit, but Latinos are not as socially conservative as Republicans give them credit for. In order to explain this claim I will break down the different demographics within the United States Latino community.
Breaking down the U.S. Latino community into generations (first generation Latino- American, second generation Latino-American, etc…) is, at least I find, the best way to explain the political matches and mismatches between Latinos and Republicans. Let us start with first generation Latinos in the United States and their political profile.
Out of all the Latino generations, first generation and foreign-born Latinos tend to be the most conservative. According to the Pew Research Center, 35% of foreign-born Latinos consider themselves conservative in their political beliefs as opposed to 28% of Latinos born in the United States, which is likely because of the greater influence that religion has in Latin American countries. They also tend to have a more conservative stance than other generations on issues such as abortion and the acceptance of homosexuality.
Second and third generation Latino-Americans tend to be more liberal on many issues as opposed to earlier generations. Later generation Latinos are slightly more accepting of homosexuals and are much more in favor of legal abortion rights for women. They are also more likely to describe themselves as liberals. One may argue that the reason for the increase in liberal ideology among younger generations of Latino-Americans is their exposure to a more secular society in the United States, as opposed to their parents or grandparents who were grew up in a less secular, Latin American nation.
From the information above, one would think that first generation Latino-Americans would be a perfect match for Republicans, right? They have many of the same core beliefs when it comes to abortion, the importance of religion, and many other issues, but still the GOP sees Latinos vote consistently Democrat. One major reason for this mismatch between the GOP and first generation Latino-Americans is the harsh, seemingly anti-immigrant, language that modern Republicans use. For this particular demographic, immigration is at the top of their list because they went through the immigration process and know the difficulties and struggles they went through to become citizens of the United States. They may still have family or friends living in their native Latin American country that are going through the immigration process, and it is through first-hand exposure to this process that makes it one of their top issues.
They key to appealing to the first generation would primarily be to propose and promote a passable, yet realistic, immigration reform bill. Doing this is key to bringing in new first generation voters, and along with that will come second and third generation Latino-Americans. With the consistent growth of the Latino population in the United States, it is essential that the GOP capitalize on this demographic, exploit the similarities, and bury the differences.
These are just my observations about the Latino vote, let’s start a conversation, what are your opinions on Republicans attracting new Latino voters?