The Romney "Latino Vote" Self-Deportation Myth

The Democrats successfully organized low information voters who wouldn't ordinarily have voted and turned them into a bigger chunk of the Latino electorate.


There are some myths that die hard. Like the myth that Romney lost the Latino vote because of a self-deportation remark.

Hispanic Americans voted for Barack Obama in overwhelming numbers. Where George W. Bush was able to get 35 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2000 and 41 percent in 2004, Romney only got 27 percent, losing a key voting bloc by the lopsided margin of 44 points. What went wrong with the campaign, and what does it portend for the future?

Yes, but McCain only got 31 percent in 2008. There was a clear downward trajectory or rather an upward trajectory for Obama.

If the idea is that Romney's evil immigration enforcement comments alienated the Latino vote, why did Senator McCain, the man who pushed amnesty harder than any other Republican in the Senate, fall to 31 percent?

The mistake being made here is that there is a single undifferentiated Latino vote. In fact there isn't. Latino is a construct. It's even more of a construct than African-American. And since it's a liberal construct, conservatives should know better than to fall for it.

We're talking about a general category that covers a lot of ground, culturally, economically and geographically. A demonstration of that is that 10 percent of Latinos polled said that Republicans supporting amnesty would make them less likely to vote Republican.

Assuming that Romney's low Latino score is because he did something to lose the Latino vote, rather than that Obama organized demographics among Latinos that tend to vote Democrat, may be the wrong interpretation.

Let's go back again to 2008.

In a year when turnout among many groups surged nationwide, the number of Latinos who went to the polls increased by nearly 25 percent over 2004, with sharp rises among naturalized immigrants and young, first-time voters

That immigrant and young voters part is important. Those tend to be Democratic voters. What happened is that the Latino vote shifted because its composition shifted.

The Democrats successfully organized low information voters who wouldn't ordinarily have voted and turned them into a bigger chunk of the Latino electorate. They did it even better in 2012. Increasing voter turnout among people who usually don't vote favors Democrats.

Romney didn't lose those voters. He never had them. And once we start accounting for income and education, I suspect we'll find that Romney got most of the same Latino votes that McCain got. He just didn't get the same share because the composition of the Latino electorate had shifted favoring voters with worse English, worse political literacy, lower incomes, higher welfare dependency, etc...

Let’s talk about the countervailing pressures that push candidates to stake out extreme positions in the struggle for the Republican nomination and then leave them to hobble back to the center, politically damaged, in the general election.

Or let's talk about the need to have honest positions, instead of faking right and then faking left and ending up with egg on your face.