Why the “Dixie Rising” Means More Clout for Latino GOPers in 2016

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By Alex Gonzalez

southernprimaryillo_1160x629Many states in the South, including Texas and Florida, are looking into creating a Mega Tuesday election after the first day in March, what POLITICO dubbed “Dixie Rising.” But Florida and Texas may opt out and wait after March 15th to have greater influence in the GOP primary of 2016.

Under the new rules adopted by the Republican National Committee (RNC), Chairman Reince Priebus plans to move up the GOP convention to June 2016 avoid a brokered nomination and bring order and fairness to the way the GOP selects its nominee early in 2016.

The new RNC rules say that states holding primaries and caucuses before March 16th must award their delegates proportionally — rather than winner-take-all — which theoretically prevents a candidate with momentum from clinching the nomination too quickly and without sufficient scrutiny. States voting after March 15, will award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis, meaning candidates will likely pay more attention to those states.

States in the “Deep South” already dubbing March 1st the as Southeastern Conference primary or “SEC primary.” For now, five states — Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas — are pushing the regional primary concept for March 1st. Florida and Texas might join, but others believe those two large states might wait a couple of weeks instead. If that happens, Both Texas and Florida may create a new regional winner-take-all powerhouse where the three biggest states with the most GOP delegates—Texas, Florida and maybe California.

All those there states have the largest Hispanic voting bloc, even among Latino Republicans. Thus, a winner-take-all primary will encourage candidate to craft a message that will include issues salient to Latino voters in those three  states with 377 delegates, or about 40 % of the total delegates needed to win the nomination.

In the 2012 GOP primary, Mitt Romney won the Texas primary with 69% of the vote but was awarded only 89 delegates of the 155 GOP state delegates.

                                                         Total 1,449,477


In Texas, Romney won 89 delegates of the threshold of 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination, But 64 delegates went to other candidates. Conversely, in Florida, state that has winner-take-all system, Romney won 47 percent of the vote, but receive 100% of the delegates–50.

Florida and Texas combined, are much bigger states than all the “Deep South” states with a lot more delegates at stake, but each is very expensive to advertise in. More importantly, “both are home to favorite sons who could scare others from competing against them: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio hail from Florida, while Ted Cruz and Rick Perry are from Texas.”

Thus, if  Texas was to have its primary between March 16th and March 30th with a winner-take-all system, Texas could become one the most important states in the primary. And Texas also has also a large Hispanic self-identify conservative voting bloc that respond well to candidates that court them –as it has been the case with Gov. Perry, W. Bush who got about 40 percent, and most recently Greg Abbott who got 44 percent of the Latino vote.

A winner-take-all primary in Texas and Florida means that Republican Latino voters in both states will have their mutual interests heard and coalesce behind one or two Republican candidates they deemed responsive since these two states have a more active Latino voting bloc within the GOP, and in both state governors Perry and Jeb Bush have close ties to Latinos.

As a result, a winner-take-all primary is beneficial for Latinos because candidates will likely pay more attention to them to build up a winning coalition. Even with a 20 percent Latino share of the total turnout in a 20i6 GOP primary in Texas, or Florida, candidates will be forced to directly court Latino voters who could easily sway the 51 percent to either candidates.

In Texas for example–presuming that Gov. Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz enter the presidential race of 2016–Gov. Perry will have an opportunity talk about his successful record in the state on high school graduation among Hispanics, his support for Higher Education polices such as the Top Ten Percent, Bachelor Degrees for $10,000 and the new UT research campus in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), and his support for the so-called Texas Dream Act. All these are issues that Latinos, especial parents, know about.

Poll after poll  consistently have showed that Education, Jobs, Health care, and immigration are among the most pressing issues for Latinos. Thus, for Rick Perry it will be chance to promote his policy achievements while Ted Cruz have nothing to show in policy formulation of those issues other than his opposition to Deferred Action for minors (DACA)  and the Senate Immigration Bill S.744.

Jeb Bush is also a well-known name among Latinos voter in Texas due to his staunch commitment to education and immigration reform. The Bush name will also resonate with Latino voters that still remember President George W. Bush. Despite the strong dislike by tea partiers for W. Bush, among Latinos in Texas, the name Bush still is synonymous of good “compassionate conservatism, or “positive conservatism” that attracts Latino to the GOP, especially in Texas where Latinos tend to be more conservative than in other states.

Florida’s students had been performing near the bottom on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) when Bush took office, but by 2007 they had made remarkable gains in both reading and math; this was particularly true of Hispanic students – 

Jeb Bush can also help win Florida, state that Republicans have lost in the last two presidential elections. Likewise, in Florida, a purple state and the third largest with 50 primary GOP delegates in the South, Jeb Bush is poised to have a lot support from businesses and Hispanic voters since he was a very popular Republican governor who increased the state elementary school rating in math and reading, cut taxes, and improved trade relations between Florida and Latin America. Jeb Bush can also help win Florida, state that Republican have lost in the last two presidential elections.

Thus, these new RNC rules, will in fact, avoid a long GOP political battle like the one in 2012 that hurt the GOP when many Republican candidates tried to “out- conservative” each other to win GOP primary. And this has been the goal of the RNC for a long time, avoid long and bloody primaries so the eventual GOP nominee can have more time to tout a center-right big tent agenda to voters.

Therefore, new Dixie Raising strategy in the Deep South will mean that a small bloc of voters in big-delegates state like Texas can have more clout in the selection of the candidate in in similar fashion like in the allocation of College Electoral Votes that elect the president. I will also mean that Latino voters could have greater clout in the selection of the Republican presidential  nominee.

This will also serve cancel out more of the radical tea-party delegate votes that, under the new rule, will still go to a Republican candidate that wins 51 percent of the vote.

California also has a winner-take-all system, which mean its 172 delegates will go to a center-right Republican. Thus, any center right Republican under the winner-take-all system could win three states with large Hispanic population -California, Texas, and Florida – will get 377 delegates. about 40 percent of the total 1,114 to win the nomination.


MeAlex Gonzalez  is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote! comments to vote@latinosreadytovote.com





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