Remember back in 2012, when Barack Obama won re-election and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, captured an anemic share of the Latino vote? The Republican national party did a post-mortem on what went wrong, and came up with a must-do prescription: reach out to more African American, Asian, and Latino voters. “We’ve done a real lousy job,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, said.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015. The GOP front-runner is a celebrity businessman who launched his bid for the nomination by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.
Not surprisingly, a new Gallup poll found Donald Trump doing unbelievably awful among Latino voters, with 65 percent viewing him unfavorably and 14 percent favorably for a net favorable score of -51.
Again, in a crowded GOP field, Trump is the front-runner. And he’s sucking up all the media oxygen. What’s more dispiriting to those who would like politicians of any party to engage in less incendiary rhetoric, the other GOP candidates are doing a “me too.”
Jeb Bush dropped the “anchor babies” bomb last week. That’s where hordes of Mexican women cross the border and have their babies, thereby “anchoring” them in the U.S., giving them citizenship. It’s a pejorative, and frankly there’s not much evidence that this so-called practice is a big issue in immigration. But it sure does rile up nativist voters.
Then this week Jeb launched his “insult every group” strategy by clarifying that in using the anchor babies term, he was really referring to Asians. In 2015, walk-backs apparently include a high-kick to the face of someone else.
The GOP candidates are dancing to Trump’s tune. It’s ugly and it’s pathetic. And the longer it goes on the slimmer any GOP candidate’s chances are of capturing minority votes. So much for the 2013 post-mortem.
The latest flap includes Trump removing Jorge Ramos of Univision from his press conference. For trying to ask a question about Trump’s immigration plan.
“Go back to Univision,” he told Ramos. Sounds a little like “go back to Mexico,” doesn’t it?
The political site Talkingpointsmemo.com makes the case that Trump’s actions will have a scorched earth effect, keeping Latinos and other minorities away from the party. Not just in this election, but for many elections to come:
It’s not just Ramos. Spanish-speaking media on the whole has been more critical of Trump than general market news. Analysis by the nonpartisan media analytics company Two.42.Solutions showed that 80 percent of Spanish-speaking media coverage of Trump focused on his immigration views — as opposed to 58 percent of Trump’s mention in mainstream news — and that coverage has been largely negative, according to the Times.
The article notes a soon-to-be published study by Sergio I. Garcia-Rios, a Latino Studies professor at Cornell University, which found that Latinos who pay close attention to Spanish-speaking media are more likely to be politically active. “This is not only media, it is media in Spanish, and for the most part we understand that as being Jorge Ramos,” Garcia-Rios told TPM. “This is even among English speakers, who prefer to use English at home. Those who watch news in Spanish, they’re more likely to be excited about politics and more likely to participate.”
And they’re more likely to vote for the Democrat. If Trump prevails in winning the nomination, something unthinkable just a few months ago, he may have negative coattails, hurting GOP candidates’ chances down ticket across the country.
In today’s America, with just over half of all babies born being non-white, and a Hispanic population of 55 million, for the GOP to brand itself as a nativist, anti-immigrant party is just plain dumb. The kind of dumb that can take an entire generation to undo.