What's Keeping Latino Voters Away from the GOP?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Voters line up to register at a caucus precinct in 2008 in a the largely Hispanic neighborhood in East Las Vegas, Nevada (Ryan Anson/AFP/Getty Images)

Recap from It's a Free Country.

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Matt Barreto, advisor to impreMedia/Latino Decisions polling and a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, discussed the findings of a new poll, which suggests that Latino voters do not care as much about religion or social issues as previously thought.

It's the economy, stupid

Republicans running for president have long had difficulty attracting Latino voters. By one measure, that's surprising: Latinos are more likely to identify as religious and as socially conservative, hewing closer to Republican voters than to Democratic ones.

However, a new impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll shows that Latino voters tend to make political decisions based on economic issues and "role of government" issues than they do on moral issues—just as in the general electorate, jobs and the economy are paramount. Matt Barreto said that Republicans playing up their social conservative credentials, like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, may want to re-think their strategy.

While Latinos may be conservative on some of these issues, same-sex marriage, abortion, that's not what is pushing them to the polls, or what's on the front of their minds when it comes to selecting candidates. Candidates, especially Republican candidates, need to be looking at this and saying, that's not our route to the Latino vote.

A path forward?

One of the surprises of the Republican primary race has been the relatively moderate rhetoric about illegal immigration. Rick Perry's "You don't have a heart" comment, and multiple candidates supporting DREAM Act style amnesty processes has softened one of the GOP's historically hard lines. Barreto said this was a good way to try and bring Latinos into the Republican fold.

When Republicans use negative language to describe undocumented immigrants or the burden they believe undocumented immigrants place on the country, that really drives Latino voters away. Even those in second and third generations are saying, hey, that's not a very nice way to talk about immigrants.

Already Newt Gingrich, who may not have changed his policies, is starting at least to change the way he talks about immigration. He used that phrase, "Let's be humane."


Matt Barreto and Nia-Malika Henderson

Comments [16]

Didja find the weapons of mass destruction yet?

Dec. 13 2011 11:04 AM
Archie Bunker from Freedom, PA


The whole thing is perplexing to people who don't understand that being an illegal immigrant in and of itself is not a crime. The most pervasive comments made in news stories about Secure Communities go a little like this: "Illegal immigrants are what they're called — they're considered criminals by mere definition. Illegals who broke a bunch of laws to enter and live here should be subjected to immediate arrest and deportation — that's fair for everyone."

That's not accurate, but a lot of people have that same misunderstanding — even law enforcement professionals.

During a teleconference last month on the troubles that Secure Communities is bringing to local law enforcement agencies, a few sheriffs on the call commiserated about their misunderstanding of immigration violations.

"I was always told it was a felony federal violation of law and was always under the impression that turning over any illegal immigrants (to ICE) was mandated by federal law — and so did my employees," said Sheriff Ed Prieto of Yolo County, Calif. "But after we met with the Mexican consulate in Sacramento we learned it's not. Then I started looking into how many of our people are being deported before trial and I became very uncomfortable contacting ICE for nonviolent offenders."

Kane County, Ill., Sheriff Patrick Perez said that "90 percent of law enforcement officers believe (just being an illegal immigrant) is a crime, but I learned after talking to an immigration judge that it is just a civil offense."

Sara Dill, a member of the American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration and a member of the ABA's Criminal Justice Council, explained it to me this way: "States are seeking to criminalize what is only a civil violation in federal law." Dill said that failing to get a permit for home construction is one example of a civil, not criminal, violation. "Putting illegal immigrants in a criminal context confuses merely being present in the United States without authorization with crimes such as falsely claiming citizenship or identity theft, which are crimes under federal law."

Everyone knows that of the universe of illegal immigrants, some have committed nonviolent and violent crimes — and everyone believes these should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But believers of following "the letter of the law" cannot continue equating all illegal immigrants living in this country with criminals, who have plenty of civil rights of their own. That's not the American way.

Dec. 13 2011 10:18 AM
Dave Francis from Indianapolis, IN

through our borders every day and this must--STOP? The chief motivation is we cannot afford foreign nationals slipping into America, bringing their poverty and adding to this countries own homeless, sick and impoverished.

They are skewering the safety net for our elderly, single mothers and veterans. They must go home and straighten out their own corrupt nation’s political indignation. America is not the place of opportunity anymore as it's been fleeced by our own policy makers, China, Mexico, India and other cheap labor countries. Our wealth is being washed away by unparalleled greed, corruption and the major influence of bankers and Wall Street. We cannot even get the Obama administration to approve the 'Keystone' oil pipeline, which will make us less reliant on Middle Eastern dictatorships that hate us. We have oil deposits in abundance that could power America for another hundred years, but the environmentalists have put a halt to that. My thoughts on Immigration law, that if there was any aspiration by our Maverick administrations to halt illegal immigration, they would have complied with the 2006 Secure Fence Act and enacted illegal entry as a FELONY? Instead we have years of disrespect for what the majority of Americans wanted and that is strict immigration laws, with no exceptions.

Millions of us can still make a difference, by contacting the do-nothings in Washington, before the Presidential election of 2012. Join the TEA PARTY and read their referendum for America’s future. Start calling your members of Congress and insist you want them to co-sponsor the Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) MANDATE of the Legal Workforce Act’, H.R. 2885. A need for a 100 co-sponsors has now been whittled from 100 down to 32, and then the bill can be read on the House floor, to get E-Verify now or in the next session of Congress. So far just one Democrat with a spine and thinking of working Americans have put his House seat on the line, by sponsoring this enforcement law. Call 202-224-3121 and giving your name, address to the political aid, which will bring it to the attention of your legislator. Also ask your politician to sponsor to press for H.R.140, titled the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011, which was introduced on Jan 5. 2011, by Rep. Steve King a Republican from Iowa; as of last month, the bill had 80 co-sponsors.

There will never be any kind of blanket amnesty, that’s the revelation of the TEA PARTY.

Dec. 12 2011 10:44 PM
Dave Francis from Indianapolis, IN

Even now we see this with the clever manipulation of the people polls, which indicates the key population is in agreement with as a path to citizenship; as suggested by Former Speaker Gingrich. The polls don't give voters the alternative of ‘Attrition through Enforcement’. Instead, they achieve through this engineering of the voters, to basically choose between mass deportations or mass legalization. IT’S A STREAMLINED LIE, PUSHED BY THE LIBERAL MEDIA AND THE SO-CALLED PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT.THEY HAVE ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED THIS, THROUGH THEIR RADICAL ‘POLITICAL CORRECTNESS’ AGENDA. In the case of a National Journal poll just released, voters were given a third choice of half-mass deportations and half-mass legalization (which is essentially the Gingrich Amnesty). Instead, they make voters fundamentally choose between mass deportations or mass legalization.

But nowhere do voters hear that there is “ATTRITION THROUGH ENFORCEMENT” such as the E-Verify option that doesn't involve mass deportations or mass legalization. It costs nothing to enforce as access to E-Verify is free and simple verification on the computer. What Attrition does do is: Quickly (over a couple of years) moves illegal aliens out of their payroll jobs. Quickly takes away taxpayer-provided benefits and thereby causes a volume EXODUS. Gradually over perhaps 10 year period, will cause illegal aliens to leave, reliving the major disruption in the job marketplace, specifically for low income labor. The Tens of Millions in the TEA PARTY members are not liable to fall for this clever fiasco.


Most readers do not want to spend their precious time in the coverage of the illegal alien invaders, when their occupied with family affairs or looking for a job. But the audience interested in the complicated matter of Immigration, can read the all the facts, costs at such pro-sovereignty websites as NumbersUSA, The Heritage Foundation, American Patrol and the Federation of American Immigration Reform. This is only a drop in the bucket of thousands of sites that demand immigration enforcement compliance. There are hundreds of billions of dollars that the U.S. Government and states are forced by liberal courts in pandering to majority ethnic groups. That they demonstrate in city streets demanding the same rights as citizens and legal residents. They come from every corner of the world, or passing

Dec. 12 2011 10:42 PM
Dave Francis from Indianapolis, IN


Instead of the Department of Justice threatening the sovereignty of Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and very likely soon North Carolina,, why doesn’t the DOJ chase down the instigators of the growing financial impact of Sanctuary states as California and Nevada. They have taxpayer’s money to outlay on ‘The Fast and Furious’ gun walking fiasco and getting a US border Patrol agent murdered. We need the border sealed, to halt the Middle Easterners disguised as Mexicans entering through the massive open regions of fencing. That is a National Security issue, which will eventually lead to a massacre of innocent victims in the United States. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency there has been a reduction in apprehensions and illegal entries.

That I don’t trust anything Eric Holder’s cronies has to report goes without saying. In fact trusting the government to inform the general audience the population of illegal migrants and immigrants cannot be accepted. Most numbers are better relied upon by organizations, estimate the propagation has reached over 20 million and most pay no taxes? However--they do collect welfare through their legalized children and also abuse the tax system by collecting $4.6 billion dollars, without paying a dime. Instead of taking States to court for its policing laws; the Administration should occupy itself, with enforcing the laws already on the books. Subsequently, the original architect of anti-illegal immigration laws of Arizona as its policing laws is to be heard by the Supreme Court. Whether or not sovereignty states has a right to enact its own laws, when the federal government admits dismal failure to protect American citizens from invasion. That Obama’s judiciary stating that a shortage of dollars makes it impossible to secure the border tight. This is an absolute ridiculous, when they are pandering to foreigners with $113 Billion dollars annually in financial support.

Dec. 12 2011 10:41 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Hey, John, I agree with you. And had the Arabs accepted the Jewish state, at least after they lost the war in 1949, and made peace, this issue would be as nonexistent as the Irish revolt against the British became after 1924 when Britain finally recognized Irish freedom, leaving only the issue of northern Ireland to fester on for a few decades. Unfortunately, as long as the US and the West is tied to oil, and as long as the Muslim countries refuse to finally accept a Jewish state in the neighborhood, this issue will not go away, unfortunately. Nobody wants this issue to go away more than I do. I was born in a refugee camp in Germany to Holocaust survivors waiting to go to Palestine. But that country was already in flames by then, back in 1948, so we were fortunate that Truman let us come here. Few would have believed that 63 years later a Jewish state is still a subject of debate.

Dec. 12 2011 10:50 AM
gary from queens

Newt was right. The name is invented. There is no unique character of these people by religion, or by language, or diet and cousine, or by any measure we judge as an "ethnic group."

But why do we fear to utter the truth? Because it would damage the peace process?!

That's as idiotic a belief as the Obama administration's reprimands of Netanyahu's government this week.

How can there be a "peace process", as Newt remarked on Wednesday (in a speech), while rockets are exploding in Israel right now?!

But the best reply to the criticism heaped upon Newt is that to remain silent and avoid telling the truth has not stopped the rocket attacks thus far.

Indeed, the rocket attacks are made possible solely for one reason: Lies and distortions about middle east history.

How? Because Hamas would not ordinarily be able to withstand worldwide condemnation for attacking Israeli civilians. The money from Europe would stop.

And the reason there has been insufficient worldwide condemnation is because the false narrative of israel has been successfully propagandized.

What false narrative? That Jewish national sovereignty is illegitimate. THAT false narrative rests on a false telling of history.

Thus, fighting this war also requires that we counter false propaganda. Apparently, only the "Palestinians" (and Newt) realize this is a public relations war as much as anything.

That is why candidate Gingrich was right to tell the truth. Whereas President Gingrich would hopefully be wise enough to coordinate the public relations war with our ally, Israel.

Jihadists have come up with every pretext under the sun for bombing non-Muslim nations from Asia to Europe.

If it's not over Madonna music videos, it's global warming. If it's not a cartoon portraying the prophet Mohammed, it's some backwoods preacher who burned a Quor'an.

By this time, only the most gullible imbeciles (like George Stephanopoulos and Diane Sawyer) would believe that an accurate telling of history----"for a change", as Newt noted----would be just cause for Muslims to attack Israel.

Especially since we now have 30 years of evidence showing that allowing the false narrative to go unrebuked has not yielded peace.

Dec. 12 2011 10:44 AM
john from office

jgarbuz from Queens

I love and respect Israel and the Jewish people. But, the issue of Israel cannot command each and every american election. it is unsolvable, short of a massacre of one side of the other.

Dec. 12 2011 10:43 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Liberals are masters of Orwell's 1984 "Newspeak."
Illegal immigrants become "undocumented" immigrants. Descendents of various Arabic speaking peoples become "Palestinians." I'm no big fan of Newt, but the truth is the truth. This identity called "Palestinians" was invented to oppose well documented and ancient Jewish national rights in that land. In a way its like calling Cherokees, Sheshone, Apaches, Dine Navajo, and the many other tribes and nations "indians." Palestine is the name the ROMAN occupiers from Europe gave to Judah and Samaria. Just as "indians" is the name Europeans gave to the various nations living here when they arrived. It is commonly used, but signifies nothing historical.

Dec. 12 2011 10:36 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Mitt probably has ten thousand dollars rolling around the floor of his SUV! Saved it when he didn't kennel the family pooch during those road trips.

Get a clue, Mitt. 2 months salary on even a sure thing is irresponsible.

Dec. 12 2011 10:35 AM
john from office

Wow, lets just give Obama the election now. What a cast of losers and Newt is a false intellectual. Obama will clean up in debates. Perry sounds nuts, Bachmann is a nut I can go on.

Dec. 12 2011 10:32 AM
Amy from Manhattan

So Gingrich caught some heat on calling Palestininans an invented people but not on saying "they" are terrorists?

Dec. 12 2011 10:30 AM

Gingrich's comments about "Palestinian" as an invented nationality are accurate. Brian has a long record of covering the issues and not just the horse race. I wish you'd address the facts behind this statement, rather than focusing on who you think it appeals to or how it was perceived.

Dec. 12 2011 10:29 AM
Janet from Westchester

Conservative is a euphemism for mean and greedy - socially mean and fiscally greedy!
There is nothing democratic about it.

Dec. 12 2011 10:24 AM
Doris from Bronx, New York

I'm 39 years old and came to the United States from Nicaragua in 1978. There is now way on this planet I would vote for a Republican. These insane "new conservatives" wouldn't give a person a glass of water in the desert. I am a pro-choice Catholic woman and I give to liberal causes and charities monthly. I believe in helping others since when I came to this country, people helped me. And the current belief of the Republican party is to destroy, destroy, destroy. They won't rebuild this country. They will divide it. I may not be crazy about some of the compromises President Obama has made, but I'd rather have him than these nut jobs out there in the Conservative party.

Dec. 12 2011 10:23 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She appeared in Tepeyac, the mid-point of the American continents. The Aztec Empire sacrificed many of their people to their false gods: 300 per day, 1000 on a feast day, at different temples. Historians estimate that they sacrificed 20% of their people (as we do in abortion). They ripped out the heart, tossed it into the god’s statue, and ate the rest of the person (cannibalism).
Cortez defeated them in war. When Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared ten years later, 3,000 Indians were baptised every day for 10 years. And human sacrifice was ended.

Many Americans of Hispanic descent celebrate today, and their Catholicism
governs their voting.

Dec. 12 2011 08:07 AM

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