On election night, former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw appeared confused at how dismally Mitt Romney had performed with Latinos. “Latinos are a natural constituent of Republicans,” Brokaw said.
This is a sentiment Republicans have been offering again and again as they try to understand how they have done worse with Latino voters in every presidential election since 2000.
The subtext is, “Aren’t they Catholic and pro-life? Why wouldn’t they vote for us?”
It doesn’t take Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball to understand why Mitt Romney did even worse attracting Latino voters than John McCain and George W. Bush.
Bush vehemently supported comprehensive immigration reform — as did McCain, before AM radio convinced him that building “that damn fence” was his only way into the White House. In the GOP primary, Mitt Romney went right on immigration to beat Rick Perry, endorsing a policy that you’ll surely never hear any mainstream Republican mention again: “self-deportation.”
Americans of Hispanic or Latino descent are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States. They now make up 11 percent of the electorate and Pew says that they’re likely to double that share by 2030.
But did they cost Mitt Romney the election? No.
“The bottom line is that even if Romney had made historic gains among Hispanic voters, he still would have lost the election,” writes the Washington Examiner’s Byron York. The New Republic‘s Nate Cohn confirms that if Romney had performed 20 points better with Hispanics, Obama still would have won 303 electoral votes.
So what’s behind the freak-out over Romney’s miserable performance with Latinos?
In one word: Texas.
The Lone Star State’s newest senator-elect, Ted Cruz, explained the predicament to The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza:
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In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat. If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the electoral college math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to 270 electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist.
Copyright 2012 The National Memo