By Alex Gonzalez
The narrative now in conservative circles is that, in the House of Representative, the GOP may be opting to forego the Latino vote over white voters. By opposing, or ignoring, the immigration Bill S.744 passed in the Senate last week, the House will seek to attract more white voters who did not vote in 2102 to compensate for any lost of Latino voters, and thereby, legitimizing the claims by some conservatives that the GOP doesn’t need to “pander” to Latino voters with an immigration Bill. But what is not said by this conservative punditry and bloggers at Breitbart pushing this idea is that those white voters are the same (aging) low-income social conservative voters that soon will be opposing any changes to the “welfare state”–Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid; and thus, creating permanent gap between “Rockefeller” business Republicans and a poor whites and Tea Party social conservative base. And we already had this failed strategy in 2006.
In 2012, though the GOP lost the election and two seats in the U.S. Senate, the Republican Party gained white voters. The post-election analysis underlines that the GOP lead among white men has doubled from 11 points in 2008 (51% Republican or lean Republican vs. 40% Democrats). But also The Pew Center points out that:
lower-income and less educated whites also have shifted substantially toward the Republican Party since 2008. The GOP has largely erased the wide lead Democrats had among white voters with family incomes less than $30,000. And middle-income whites ($30,000-$74,999), who were split between the parties four years ago, now favor the GOP by 17 points. By contrast, there has been no shift among higher income whites, who favor the GOP by roughly the same margin today as in 2008. Similarly, whites without a college degree now tilt decidedly toward the Republican Party – the GOP now holds a 54% to 37% advantage among non-college whites, who were split about evenly four years ago.
The Rise of the Republican Welfare State.
As new census shows, in some of the most Republican counties in Texas, there is growth of the senior (65 and older) population . But Texas is not different than Arizona, California and Florida—states with large Latino population. In addition, each year 4, 000,000 million of baby boomers become eligible to receive Medicare and Social Security benefits. And at least half these boomers are low-income whites hit by the rescission of 2007. This recession-induced growth exacerbates the long time trend in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program growth that has resulted in its real expenditures increasing seven-fold, from $18 billion (2010 dollars) in 1970 to $128 billion in 2010. And this is the same class of non-college poor white voters coming to Republican Party. Also, most Tea Partiers –just like poor whites –oppose any changes to Entitlements system. Consequently, there is ongoing fusion between of ideological ultra-conservatives Tea Partiers and poor whites, both groups heavily enrolled in government programs.
Moreover, when 60% of the GOP base is made of those making between $30,000 to 75,000 (or 43% making less than $30,000) and 54% does not have any college education, it means the GOP base is on a path to “welfare state” model; and it means that the money will have to come from some place to pay for Entitlements in their retirement years.
Most conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, CATO, American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution agree that the cause of the National Debt and Deficit is directly associated with the increase of healthcare services provided to seniors, and to an Entitlements “epidemic” that consumes 60 percent of our budget–$2 trillion–each year. And even though substantial evidence exists showing how an immigration Bill will help pay for entitlements, Tea Party groups oppose this reform. As a result, in opposing an immigration Bill to rally the poor white voter base, Republican in the House are pushing away a business community that wants immigrants to be part of an economic recovery to grow the economy faster and stronger. see chart bellow showing where your taxes go.
In 2004, 44% of Latinos voted for W. Bush. But by 2006, after the bad Sensenbrenner Bill in the House of Representative, support for the GOP among Latinos has gone down to 27% in 2012. And Republicans have not been able to recuperate after the 2006 mid-term Congressional election with Latino voters. In the 2006 mid-term election, Republicans lost their supermajority; in the Senate, it shifted to 50 Democrats 49 Republicans from a 55-49 Republican majority. And in the House Republicans lost from 229 to 202.
2006 was also the peak of the anti-immigration “Sensenbrenner Bill” that passed the House in late December 2005, which fueled large demonstrations nationwide. Was it coincidence that after passing one he most draconian anti-immigration bill in the House Republicans lost the majority? Not entirely. In 2006, most polls showed the War in Iraq was among the main issue for Americans, and they voted for changes in Congress. However, among Latino voters, the issue of immigration was ranked high on their priority list since the Republican Senate—led by W. Bush–also had just passed an Immigration bill in August; but it was killed in the House after Speaker Dennis Husker refused to go to Conference to work out the differences between the two chambers. Thus, if Speaker Boehner uses any parliamentary schemes, just like Dennis Husker did in 2005, to avoid dealing with the Senate bill, Latino voters will retaliate heavily voting again Republicans in Congress. Note: the House Judiciary Commettee already passed bill similar to Sensenbrenner bill of 2006.
In 2006, the economy was strong, we had a Republican-majority in the Senate that passed a Republican bill, led by a Republican President; and we also had a 4.5 unemployment. Yet, Republicans still opposed it in the House. It could be easily argued that some of these Republicans are not in the business of fixing things.
Republican like Peter King in Iowa and Lamar Smith in Texas can easily be re-elected if they oppose an immigration Bill to rally low-income white votes. However, they also will be fomenting a self-defeating plan for 2016, and making it harder for Republicans running for governor in the southwest; candidate who want and need to attract Latino voters. When an overwhelming 90% of Latinos voters support an immigration Bill, these candidates won’t be able to pretend that tension is not there.
Sure, some claim that Republicans could have won the W.H. without the Latino vote if only more whites had voted. But they are deceiving themselves. Winning the White House requires a 35-40% of Latino vote from at least 7 states, pockets of Latino voters spread in swing states. So white alone is not the answer, as Karl Rove also argues.
Moreover, “safe” Republican districts only represent those districts but not the Republican national platform promoted by the Republican National Committee (RNC) or by business Republicans in Wall Street. More importantly, this strategy of “white voters” only further confines Republicans to the same smaller white base without reaching out to Latinos, young voters and the businesses community in urban areas; and thereby, pushing the Party farther into to smaller, aging. and poor white voters. Also, these “safe” districts will be redone in 2020 when new Census numbers come out. So even a safe districts plan is just a temporary fix.
The End of the Rockefeller Republicans.
Wall Street Republican (the so-called Rockefeller Republicans), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the RNC support an immigration reform and reform to Entitlement programs, but they are constantly clashing with social conservatives, and now and Tea Party groups, who oppose any type of reform. Hence, this new influx of low-income white voters and Tea Partiers Republican and business Republicans will inevitable be in a collision course; poor whites and Tea Partiers will want their Entitlements, even if it means tax increases on businesses. Where else will the money come to pay for services provided for the millions of poor white voters and Tea Party boomers who oppose Entitlements reform?
A non-college poor white base will create a Republican bloc of voters who will oppose any reforms to SSDI, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. And therefore transforming the GOP into new Party with little appeal to middle-class or high-income earners since the Party will be ran by a small cadre of social conservative leaders who will have no desire to promote fiscal conservative mantras over abortion, gay marriage, and immigration. And many states party have opted for this objective quietly. Therefore, the traditional Rockefeller business Republican class may end losing the battle for control of the GOP to large poor white social conservative voting class.
But GOP state Parties are playing a quite role on S.744. A good way, not sure how scientific, to measure where the Republican Party in different states stand in the southwest on the Senate bill S.744 is via social media; I have I have been monitoring the GOP official website and social media pages, as well as some “official” county GOP sites and pages. I noticed that some have made their goal to promote the immigration bill as “does not secure the border” hinting that they will be ordering their Republican how to deal with this bill—does not secure the border first. In other words, the official GOP social networks in many Latino states–states with large Latino population–are being very vocal about abortion and the end of DOMA but avoid talking about the Senate Bill; these are social issues very important to poor whites, especially in rural areas.
These are the social media pages of some GOP pages if you want to see want to see how they have avoided mentioning of S.744–TX, CA, CO, AZ, NM. However, avoiding the issue of immigration bill at the state level, and its economic benefits to the US, will exacerbate the looming “epidemic” of Entitlements since the Party is opting not to talk about serious economic issues and cover it up with pro-life and “traditional marriage” messages.
Sure, there are conservative skeptics who say that no precious data is offered up to buttress the assumption that Immigration is the primary motivators for Latino voters. But to think that 44% of Latino in 2004 to 27% in 2012 is not solid a indicator how Latinos see this issue is also false assumption. I can also offer data state-by-state showing how the Latino vote is getting smaller. see both graphs showing the Latino vote by state in 201o and 2012.
Too many just simply argue that as soon as Latino become middle-class or high-income they will pivot to the Republican side, but that is also a myth. As the Latino middle-class in Texas, California, and even Cuban-Americans in Florida keeps growing, the share of Latinos voting for Republican is going in the opposite direction. Latinos in Florida (Cuban-Americans) and in Texas (Mexican-Americans) have the most integrated Latino subgroups in the nation, but they now vote less for Republicans in both states than the did six years ago. But even Even in Texas and Florida where the GOP had a strong hold with Latinos, the share of Latino vote in each state has dropped by 20% in each state from 2010 to 2012–see charts. Hence, there is something that the Latinos business class, middle-class, does not like about Republicans – harsh anti-immigrant anti-Latino rhetoric. And even as Hispanics will represent $1.5 T in purchasing power by 2015– they could be the new Rockefeller Republicans–they are not coming to GOP in droves. Why? Well, just like Wall Street Republicans, business middle-class Latinos do not approve of populist Tea Party rhetoric. And Republicans in the House need to pay attention to this.
The Republican Party is opting to avoid talking about immigration to give more leverage to Republican in the House, and instead, focus on abortion and gay marriage, to attract more low-income white voters. But this will have serious ramifications for an economic recovery and any reform to Entitlements, and it hampers the ability of the GOP to remain relevant nationally. Also, this will crate rift with business Republicans. So opposing an immigration Bill in the House to rally the poor white base, but pushing Latino voters away, is indeed self-destructing strategies. With a strategy of self-destruction the GOP runs the risk of becoming the Party welfare and Entitlements for poor aging whites who soon will look to Medicare, Social Security–Obamacare–as a source of income in their retirement years.
Republican in the House already played this opposition game in 2006, and they lost. If they wan to repeat the same game, it would be clear that they do not want the Latino vote and they rather set the Republican Party in self-destructing path.Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote! He received a Bachelors Degree and a Masters’ Degree, with emphasis in American politics, from San Francisco State University. comments to firstname.lastname@example.org