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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Sargent: Dems’ Edge with Latino Voters Formidable, But…

So “Is the overwhelming advantage that Democrats appear to be building among Latinos durable? Or could it prove far more ephemeral than it appears?” Greg Sargent addresses the question at The Plum Line and observes”

…Can Democrats count on the 2016 GOP presidential ticket re-running Mitt Romney’s historically bad performance among Latino voters? Or could a Jeb Bush (or, less likely in my view, Marco Rubio) general election candidacy whittle away at the Dem edge among those voters and reverse gains that had seemed to be hardening? Folks with long memories will recall that George W. Bush successfully pulled that reversal off in 2000. Couldn’t that happen again?…This is one of the big questions of 2016, and its answer could be key to the campaign’s outcome.”

Thanks, in part, to recent Repubican bungling and indecision, Sargent sees Democrats in good position to win a healthy majority of Latino voters in 2016.

The case for Dem optimism has been fortified by Donald Trump, who in recent days has been spraying inflammatory quotes about immigrants around like a garden sprinkler. It’s true that a number of GOP candidates have condemned his remarks. But as Michael Gerson details, Republicans still appear locked in a debate over the fundamental underlying question of whether their route to the White House lies in pumping up the white vote in the Rust Belt (a strategy perhaps foreshadowed by Scott Walker’s move to the right on immigration) or in broadening their appeal beyond their demographic comfort zone (a strategy that Jeb Bush has urged on the party).
An additional reason for Dem optimism: Some Republicans are reportedly skeptical that the party should bother focusing its energy on nominating a candidate who might appeal to Latinos, on the grounds that those voters agree with Democrats on many issues, so being pro-immigration reform (as Jeb is) won’t be enough anyway

Sargent cautions, however, that there is a possible GOP presidential campaign ticket which might take a big enough bite out of the Democrats’ edge — “a GOP ticket that includes Bush and Nevada governor Brian Sandoval as vice president.” Further, adds Sargent, “Sandoval won a third of the Latino vote in his 2010 race, despite striking a hard-ish line on immigration, from which he has since backed off. Sandoval is relatively young. A Bush-Sandoval ticket would be led by a man with a Mexican wife and Latino-American children, and backed up by a man of Mexican descent…”
Sargent quotes progressive political strategist Simon Rosenberg:

“While the Democratic advantage today is significant, what we don’t know is what happens with an historically Hispanic and Spanish friendly GOP ticket of, let’s say, Bush and Sandoval. One Bush already used a smart Hispanic strategy to get to the White House. Given that, Democrats should be anything but confident and complacent right now. They need to be doing more, now, to make it harder for any GOP ticket to dig out of the hole Trump and others have dug for the GOP.”

Always wise to prepare for any game-changers. For now, however, Sargent concludes, “So, yes, perhaps Republicans have moved so far to the right on immigration that the party can’t conceivably re-run the 2000 Bush immigration strategy, or perhaps even reconstituting that strategy wouldn’t be enough to reverse GOP losses among Latinos at this point.”

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