Gallup report: GOP unlikely to gain much traction with Latinos

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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A new report by Gallup suggests that the GOP is unlikely to boost its support among Latinos to much more than 25 percent.

“It appears that young Hispanic adults will remain lopsidedly Democratic throughout their lives, [and] there is also no generational evidence at this point suggesting that they will become more Republican,” said the Monday report, which combines data from Gallup’s daily tracking polls of 26,264 Hispanics.

“Majorities or near-majorities across all age groups among Hispanic adults identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, including 50% of middle-aged Hispanics and 59% of older Hispanics,” said the report, which relied on data collected throughout 2012.

Hispanics boosted their share of the electorate to roughly 10 percent in 2012, with the white vote accounting  for roughly 70 percent of the 2012 electorate.

Since the November election, in which Gov. Mitt Romney scored only 27 percent of the Hispanic electorate, GOP leaders have sought to bolster the GOP’s Latino outreach.

Some GOP leaders, including Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American in Florida, say the GOP’s support can be boosted by an immigration-law rewrite that provides an conditional amnesty to Latinos who have illegally immigrated from Mexico, El Salvador and other countries south of Texas. (RELATED: Poll shows little gain for GOP from immigration reform)

But any effort to win more than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote will be difficult, partly because Romney’s Latino performance wasn’t far below the 31 percent won in 2008 by Sen. John McCain, or the 30 percent won in 1988 by President George H. Bush.

Bush supported the 1986 amnesty, and McCain was the most prominent advocate in 2006 for an conditional-amnesty law.

An April 2012 survey by Pew Research showed that 75 percent of Latinos want a “bigger government providing more services … while 19 percent say they would rather have a smaller government with fewer services.”

That big-government skew was solidified by the 2008 meltdown of the decade-long property bubble. Many Latinos lost jobs, housing and wealth, increasing their support in 2008 for the Democratic Party’s candidates.

The GOP’s high-point came in 2004, when President George W. Bush won 40 percent of the Latino vote.

That high score came amid a housing boom that provided construction work to many Latino citizens, residents and immigrants, and against a Democratic candidate who was widely seen as an out-of-touch Massachusetts millionaire.

But the 2012 data shows the GOP’s base among Latinos to be roughly 25 percent.

“When accounting for ‘leaners,’ — independents who [usually] prefer one party over the other — 51% of Hispanics identify or lean with the Democratic Party and 24% opt for the Republican Party,” said the report.

Opinion among Latino youth is similar, says the report.

“Half of young U.S. Hispanic adults (50%) identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while slightly less than a quarter (24%) identify as or lean Republican [and] another 22% are “pure” independents,” it said.

The report also said the Latino support for the Democrats is very broad, and is similar to African-Americans’ 79 percent support for Democratic candidates.

“Hispanic adults more closely resemble non-Hispanic blacks rather than non-Hispanic whites in terms of having a cohesive political identity that remains intact across all age groups.”

However, Gallup’s survey also noted that the GOP leads among white voters — both old and young — who comprise roughly 70 percent of the electorate.

“Middle-aged and older generations among whites strongly back the Republican Party … [among] white Americans, 52% of those aged 35 to 54 and 51% of those aged 55 and older identify as or lean Republican,” said the report.

The GOP also leads among younger white voters.

Forty-four percent are “identifying as or leaning Republican and 41% seeing themselves as Democrats or leaning Democratic,” said the report.

In 2008 and 2012, however, the turnout among GOP supporters was low, aiding President Barack Obama’s victories in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and other Midwest states.

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