What Both Parties Don’t Get About Hispanics

Incentives for a deal on immigration reform are powerful, if unspoken.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (C), R-OH and National Security Advisor Susan Rice listen as US President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Syria during a meeting with members of Congress at the White House in Washington, DC, September 3, 2013.
National Journal
Ron Fournier
May 28, 2014, 6:17 a.m.

The pres­sures against im­mig­ra­tion re­form are so ob­vi­ous they’re al­most cliché. Most Re­pub­lic­an politi­cians fear re­volt from am­nesty-loath­ing con­ser­vat­ives. Many Demo­crats see stra­tegic ad­vant­age in keep­ing the wedge is­sue alive.

What our lead­ers don’t see (or re­fused to ac­know­ledge) are the false as­sump­tions built in­to their po­s­i­tions, and the power­ful in­cent­ives for both sides to com­prom­ise. They should read this re­port from Third Way, a Demo­crat think-tank with enough in­tel­lec­tu­al hon­esty to ana­lyze data ir­re­spect­ive of its party bi­as.

Des­pite their rising polit­ic­al power, both Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats have ten­ded to mis­rep­res­ent His­pan­ic Amer­ica.

Many Re­pub­lic­ans view His­pan­ics as un­doc­u­mented, poor, and un­will­ing to as­sim­il­ate. But the data shows that His­pan­ics are over­whelm­ingly cit­izens and leg­al res­id­ents and have broadly ad­op­ted Amer­ic­an val­ues. Many Demo­crats em­phas­ize im­mig­ra­tion as the sole is­sue of im­port­ance to the com­munity and as­sume His­pan­ics are lib­er­als. But His­pan­ics are con­cerned with is­sues bey­ond im­mig­ra­tion and hold com­plex — and of­ten con­ser­vat­ive views — on a num­ber of is­sues.

The re­port’s au­thor, demo­graph­er Michelle Diggles, warned her own party, “His­pan­ics are not born lib­er­al Demo­crats.” While Pres­id­ent Obama won the His­pan­ic vote in 2012 by 44 points, a ma­jor­ity of His­pan­ics iden­ti­fied at in­de­pend­ents and only 32 per­cent as Demo­crats.

“And His­pan­ics ex­press luke­warm feel­ings about the Demo­crat­ic Party. Only 27 per­cent think the Demo­crat­ic Party cares a lot about the is­sues and con­cerns of His­pan­ics,” she wrote. “This and their lack of iden­ti­fic­a­tion as self-de­scribed Demo­crats sug­gest that His­pan­ic at­tach­ment to the Demo­crat­ic Party is shal­low rather than deep.”

There’s more to worry Demo­crats in the re­port, in­clud­ing a “po­ten­tial flash­point” over re­li­gion. “Demo­crats can­not be com­pla­cent and should work to deep­en their con­nec­tions with the His­pan­ic com­munity bey­ond im­mig­ra­tion,” she wrote. “His­pan­ics are strivers ““ en­tre­pren­eurs and small busi­ness own­ers. And Demo­crats have not been able to at­tract as much sup­port from small busi­ness own­ers as the rest of the pop­u­la­tion.”

The trends, of course, are far worse for Re­pub­lic­ans. Diggles spells them out. About 17 per­cent of His­pan­ics are un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants, ac­cord­ing to her ana­lys­is, a num­ber that has fallen sharply in re­cent years.  “Des­pite the lower levels of un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants among the His­pan­ic com­munity, the anti-His­pan­ic rhet­or­ic un­leashed by Re­pub­lic­ans when they speak of im­mig­ra­tion im­pacts the com­munity writ large,” Diggles wrote. “Fur­ther, many His­pan­ics born in the U.S. care deeply about im­mig­ra­tion re­form, re­gard­less of their cit­izen­ship.”

She cites Pew Re­search Cen­ter polling that sug­gests the Demo­crat­ic ad­vant­age in party iden­ti­fic­a­tion has grown from 22 points in 2006 to 48 points in 2012.

The Third Way re­port had star­ted gath­er­ing dust on my shelf when House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor re­minded me this week of just how close the GOP has come to ir­re­voc­ably ali­en­at­ing a strong ma­jor­ity of His­pan­ics, seal­ing its fu­ture as a minor­ity party. Faced with a primary chal­lenge from the tea party, Can­tor’s cam­paign sent out a mail­er that claimed he is “stop­ping the Obama-Re­id plan to give il­leg­al ali­ens am­nesty.”

There is talk in Wash­ing­ton that the GOP House lead­er­ship may be will­ing to bend on im­mig­ra­tion but only after can­did­ates like Can­tor weath­er primary chal­lenges. White House ad­viser Valer­ie Jar­rett sug­ges­ted as much when she said, “We have a com­mit­ment from Speak­er Boehner, who’s very frus­trated with his caucus.” Boehner quickly denied her claim. What happened?

Either there was a com­mit­ment and Jar­rett didn’t un­der­stand Boehner’s polit­ic­al pre­dic­a­ment, which amounts to polit­ic­al mal­prac­tice at the White House, or there wasn’t deal, and Jar­rett was ly­ing. Pick your pois­on. Obama’s team doesn’t fully un­der­stand how Con­gress and com­prom­ise works.

On the oth­er hand, the pres­id­ent has ordered a delay of a de­port­a­tion en­force­ment re­view that was cer­tain to an­ger House Re­pub­lic­ans and doom any hopes of im­mig­ra­tion re­form. Risk­ing back­lash from lib­er­al back­ers, Obama gave the GOP polit­ic­al space to com­prom­ise. Lib­er­al colum­nist Greg Sar­gent of the Wash­ing­ton Post re­minded me that this is ex­actly the sort of lead­er­ship I ac­cuse Obama of lack­ing. He’s got a point.

But the proof is in the do­ing. Nobody gets cred­it for a com­prom­ise that isn’t reached, a prob­lem that isn’t fixed. I don’t have much faith that lead­ers of either party can put our coun­try ahead of their polit­ics, but Diggles’ re­port con­cludes with a sen­tence aimed at the hard­est hearts. “If Re­pub­lic­ans aban­don their ste­reo­types or Demo­crats don’t do the ne­ces­sary work to keep His­pan­ic voters in their column,” she wrote, “we could eas­ily see this com­munity re­turn­ing to the ranks of swing voters.”

What We're Following See More »
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
2 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
1 days ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
IT’S ALL ABOUT SECOND PLACE
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
19 hours ago
THE LATEST

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.

Source:
×