By Alex Gonzalez & Linda Vega
For the last eight months, we have consistently argued that Mitt Romney has been cocooned by his advisers about what matters to Latino voters. Eight months ago, Mitt Romney’s team hired the same old circle of friends (Latino “Washington insiders”) to formulate self-fulfilling polls suggesting that Romney could win over the Latino vote by only talking about the economy and avoiding issues such education, immigration, and healthcare. But it is now evident that this made-up premise was a terrible mistake that now even Bill Kristal agrees is not enough to win over independents and Latinos.
Among one most obvious “findings” in the focus group by Ms. Sanchez and Gov. Barbour is that Latinos are disillusioned as they believe that Obama failed them. Also, 20 to 30 percent of independent “swing” Latino voters lean Democrat, but do not have a strong affiliation. Moreover, these swing voters are also worried about the dismal economic direction of the country, which can be an opportunity for Conservatives candidates. Essentially, Sanchez and Barbour argue that if Republican candidates in swing states can pen down an economic message and avoid talking about immigration, Latinos who are still hurting because of the failed Obama’s economic policies, can turn around and vote for conservative candidates, even if they lean Democrat. As a result, these “qualitative Key findings” dispel any myth that Latinos are a monolithic voting bloc.
Based and these “findings,” for which were paid for by the RNC and Romney campaign, Romney’s advisers and the RNC instructed all the “in-circle” Hispanic Republican operatives in D.C. and Florida to stick to economic message. Moreover, the RNC resorted to the same circle of operatives in Florida by hiring Betina Inclan of Florida Hispanic outreach coordinator to spread the economic message. However, they didn’t include Hispanic Republicans from the southwest—which is where Romney will need more help.
Additionally, Latino Republicans elected officials from the Southwest were told to avoid the immigration and education issues and merely stick same economic message and magnify the “historic” high unemployment levels of 10.2%.
Essentially, we have Republican advisers in D.C. and Florida, who have no vested interests in the Southwest, who have cocooned Romney and the RNC into thinking that Latinos don’t want to talk about immigration and education. They also presume that all Latinos who vote Democrats are inherently poor. And herein lies the fundamental problem for Romney: he has surrounded himself with advisers that prevent him from getting close to the voters.
There are two competing theories behind the Latino effort within the GOP. First, since Latino employment is still at 10 percent, if the message stays focused only on jobs and the economy, Latinos will forget about healthcare, education, and immigration—as the GOP Latinos Washington insiders keep repeating. But this theory has failed since the number in favor of Romney has not changed since March of this year.
Second, the other theory behind the strategy by the GOP for Latinos is that since Latinos have a traditional low turnout, Mitt Romney’s campaign is hoping that a low turnout among Latinos will give him enough advantage in Florida, Colorado, and Nevada with blue-collar “white” voters who dislike Obama. But this is also a risky option because the theory failed in 2010.
The reality is that the GOP is running a very undercurrent ideological wave, and thus, social issues and the hardening of the Party on education, immigrating, and healthcare is making Latino voters suspicious of Mitt Romney. Everybody agrees that Romney is a decent American, a great father and husband, and a stellar member of his community. But the problem is that he has entrusted his campaign to a circle of advisers who in turn have cocooned him too much from “real American” Latino voters. Pundits who keep driving his campaign too far to the right on socials issues are also scaring the voters to the Obama camp. Republican Latino pollsters in D.C. who get paid to make self-fulfilling polls tell Mitt Romney what he wants to hear, utterly denying where the pulse of the Latino voters is; and they all, lamentably, are contributing the failing campaign for heart and minds of Latino voters and are potentially destroying the future of Republican Party, at least with Latinos.
Sadly, these advisers and Republican Latinos in D.C. and Florida are completely abandoning the most successful Republican campaign message in recent history which was laid out by George W. Bush. He eloquently hit the nail on head when he stated that “Rio Grande family values, ” do not end at the border. Latinos embraced this message and understood it enough to vote for Bush twice. Unlike the two failed theories about the economic message and low Latino turnout currently within the Mitt Romney campaign, the Rio Grande family values is a proven strategy has potential to really win over Latino voters because it speaks to their heart, as it did in 2004 when 44% of Latinos voted for President Bush.