Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them
Political analysts keep urging the Republican Party to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters. Yet the party’s congressional leaders show little sign of doing so, blocking an immigration overhaul and harshly criticizing President Obama for his plan to defer deportation for undocumented migrants.
House Republican leaders want amnesty legislation badly, but they can’t find a way to con the back benchers into voting for it. They might “harshly criticize President Obama for his” potential executive order amnesty in public to save face, but in private, they’re hoping he does. If he does, the Republican establishment is going to throw a really big party in a soundproof room.
The fact that the Republican House majority does not depend on Hispanic voters helps explain why immigration reform has not become law, even though national Republican strategists believe the party needs additional support among Hispanic voters to compete in presidential elections. It’s true that Republicans would stand little, if any, chance of winning the presidency in 2016 if they lost every Hispanic voter. If anything, the Republicans probably need to make gains among Hispanic voters to compete in states like Florida and Nevada.
The fact that members of Congress face election every two years and are more likely to face pissed off voters if their paw prints were actually on an amnesty bill is a better explanation.
But Congressional elections are different. Although the young, urban and racially diverse Democratic coalition has won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, that coalition has not delivered House control to the Democrats. Gerrymandering isn’t the only cause, either. It’s the way the population is distributed.
That last sentence is crucial, because I’ll have a link to another story below.
The Upshot analysis found that if not one of the eight million Hispanic voters supported the Republican candidate, Republicans would lose about a dozen House seats, especially in Florida and California. The loss of those seats would make the Republican House majority more vulnerable if Democrats made gains elsewhere in future years. But given the Republicans’ current strength across rural areas and in conservative suburbs, the loss of every Hispanic every voter would not be enough to cost them the 17 seats that would flip House control.
And this analysis is a bit faulty because it relies on two Latin words: Ceteris Paribus. They just fiddle with the Hispanic vote without fiddling with the white vote or any other vote. In the real political world, Ceteris Paribus does not exist. Everything you do to get one person to vote for you will cost you statistically speaking some decimal number of voters, hopefully for your sake it’s a decimal less than 1.00. I think that Republican attempts to appeal to Hispanics yields a higher than 1.00 decimal, i.e. they lose far many more white votes with their Hispandering than Hispanic votes they gain, in fact I think the ratio is way way way higher than 1.00.
The Republican lead in the race for control of the Senate, on the other hand, does not include such a cushion. A percentage point could make the difference in several of this year’s crucial contests, and winning every Hispanic vote might be worth a point to the Democrats — even in states with a small Hispanic population. Hispanic voters will represent about 3 percent of the electorate in the Senate battlegrounds.
We did a special run of our Senate model, Leo, imagining that the Republicans lost every Hispanic voter. In this situation, the odds flip — precisely, as it happens. Republicans would have just a 31 percent chance of retaking the Senate, compared with the current chance of 69 percent on Monday. Without any Hispanic votes, Republicans would lose a bit of ground everywhere, but become decided underdogs in Colorado and find themselves in a tight race in Texas.
Yet the Republicans would still have a plausible path to victory — as plausible as the actual Democratic path — because they could pick up the six Democratic seats they needed elsewhere. In South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa, Alaska, North Carolina and New Hampshire, there are very few Hispanic voters.
Thom Tillis in North Carolina, sizable Hispanic population, has a better than even chance to lose next Thursday precisely because he’s a Hispanderer and open borders all the way. He won’t win very many Hispanic votes by doing it (they already have Kay Hagan), and he’ll drive away white votes. Because Senate races are statewide affairs, the opposite of ceteris paribus being true becomes statistically more crucial, and because Hispanics punch well under their demographic weight even in Presidential cycles and are even less than that in midterms, white voters become all the more crucial with their marginal leverage.
Perhaps most remarkable is that we’re even entertaining this notion. In reality, the Republicans will win millions of Hispanic votes this November. But the House Republican majority does not depend on those votes. Indeed, it could even withstand losses far beyond reason.
Republicans in general this season will do better among the scant few Hispanic voters than the 27% that Mitt Romney did among Hispanics in 2012, precisely because Republicans this season are generally in a stronger position.
To win the White House in 2016 or any future year, the Republicans will need a substantial number of Hispanic votes.
No they will not. This same newspaper did this same kind of analysis of Presidential votes and the Electoral College in 2012, and found that, ceteris paribus, Romney would have needed to get 73% of the Hispanic vote to win. No Republican Presidential candidate in my lifetime has ever gotten anywhere near 50% of the Hispanic vote, much less 73%. The high water mark was Bush’s 40% in 2004. Then there’s the fact again that ceteris paribus does not exist in the real world. The more the Republicans try to get Hispanic votes, the way more white people they will run off.
But the fact that the party doesn’t need many of those votes to hold the House makes the Republican effort to appeal to Hispanic voters far more challenging. The Republican Congress has few, if any, immediate incentives to reach a compromise on immigration reform or otherwise reach out to Hispanics.
Hispanic voters don’t have “immigration reform” (amnesty, open borders, border surge) as their huge priority. They’re mainly social welfare and government giveaway voters.
Now, for the second article:
Early voting has started in states nationwide, and Election Day is drawing near. And when the votes begin to be counted, the Republican Party will have a built-in advantage as it seeks to keep control of the House of Representatives.
The reason? A years long plan by Republican strategists to take advantage of the 2010 census and reshape congressional districts in key states to pack large numbers of Democrats into relatively few House districts, while GOP voters are spread out more evenly.
Gerrymandering, as it is called, has a long history in the United States, ardently pursued by both Democrats and Republicans. But the Republicans’ success was unprecedented and largely out of the public eye.
However, you can read a hint above that this is off base. In fact, last year, the NYT did a big computer analysis of the 2012 Congressional (House) candidate vote. Democrat House candidates got slightly more votes than Republican House candidates, but the winners based on those votes were 233 R to 202 D. Everyone, including me, just assumed that the 2011-2012 redistricting, largely done in state legislatures that were based on state legislature elections of the 2010 red wave, was the only thing that kept the House Republican in spite of a slight Democrat generic voter win. However, the NYT fed the actual 2012 House two-party voting data into hundreds of possible national House district configuration maps, ranging from seemingly insanely pro-Democrat maps to seemingly insanely pro-Republican maps, and also the current real world map. It found that only a scant few of the craziest Democrat-favorable maps would have resulted in a Democrat majority based on actual 2012 votes, meaning that almost all of the pro-Democrat maps, all of the neutral maps and all of the Republican maps would have resulted in what we actually got, that is, a Republican majority. They also found that the real world map is not a wacky crazy pro-Republican map, that it’s about in the middle ground of hypothetical Republican-friendly maps. That makes sense, because there were some state legislatures that were in Democrat hands in 2011 and 2012 that gerrymandered in favor of the blue team, such as Illinois and California.
The reason is what this first NYT article says above. As long as Democrat voters willingly clump into tight geographical areas, they will be at a natural disadvantage in Congressional politics. Not Republican gerrymandering, Democrat self-ghettoization.
Besides, what this AP advisory forgets is that Republicans have a blue team political ally when they do gerrymandering: Black Democrats and the NAACP. The Missouri map for this decade which means a 6-2 Republican majority save some sort of drastic turn of events was a map that black politicians in the General Assembly voted for twice, both to implement and to override Nixon’s veto, the NAACP in St. Louis and Kansas City approved, and the then and still two black Congressmen from Missouri, Lazy Clay and Beaver Cleaver, also endorsed.
If the AP is trying to manufacture an excuse for what is pretty much a foregone conclusion, that Republicans will hold onto the House and probably gain a few more seats, something else they’re forgetting is that this year, unlike two years ago, Republicans will almost certainly win the generic House candidate vote, too.