The Importance of the Latino Vote

Many cities in the US are becoming more diverse as the Latino population grows. As a result, many experts claim, many areas that have been bastions for the Republican party are now mostly Democratic. This is very noticeable in areas such as Orange County, Santa Ana, and other parts of California. While Republicans have traditionally not been eager to woo Latino voters, some experts say that the party needs to do more to lure these voters in order to regain states such as California. However, there are some within the party who think that pursuing Latino voters will not make a big difference to the success of the election.

They may be wrong. While Santa Ana was long a republican city, home base for Republican Congressman “B-1” Bob Dornan, today the town is led by  Democrat Loretta Sanchez. In 2008, the city voted 65% in favor of the Democrats, with only 32% voting for John McCain.

Allan Hoffenblum, a GOP political strategist, says that the Republicans may have a long battle in front of them to attract Latino voters. After many decades of ignoring Latino voters and supporting immigration policies such as Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, the Republicans have pushed Latino supporters away. Even in cases where Latino voters disagree with Democratic candidates regarding social issues, their distrust of Republicans may not allow them to support that party. Republicans have a tough policy on immigration, especially undocumented immigration, and Latino voters worry that Republican-supported legislation (such as the Arizona legislation) may encourage racial profiling and harassment of all Latinos.

According to some experts, the interesting thing is that many Latino voters in fact agree with Republicans on issues such as national security, border security, and the economy, to name just a few issues. However, some Republicans’ policies about undocumented immigrants in the country do give some voters the impression that some legislators in that party are racist.

Some Republicans are suggesting ways to reform immigration laws in a more moderate way. For example, some Republicans want to see a more streamlined system for allowing skilled workers into the country. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has spoken before Latino audiences and has emphasized the need for sensible immigration policies. However, the Republican view of undocumented immigration remains tough line, at a time when President Obama and other Democrats support the DREAM Act and other legislation which would offer legal status to some undocumented immigrants.