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Can the GOP Woo the Latino Vote?

In 10 things the GOP can do to turn the tide with Latino voters, Samuel Rosado and Brittney Morrett list some steps Republicans could take to improve their position with Hispanic voters in the U.S., including making Puerto Rico the 51st state.

George W. Bush received 40% of the Hispanic vote for his presidential bid in 2004,  but Romney earned much less. “The Republican Party is in danger of becoming the ‘Win In Off Years Only Party’ unless we make a full-throated improvement with Hispanic voters,” quoted Glen Bolger as saying, “and we have to admit it is us, not them.” Business Insider reported that even some Hispanic voters who consider themselves conservative didn’t vote Republican in this year’s election.

Taking their discussion a step further about why the Republican Party didn’t do well with Hispanic voters, Rosado and Morrett offer some specific suggestions about how that could change.

The first half of their list emphasizes in different ways a single message: “Show up!” If  the only people heading into urban areas and Hispanic communities between now and 2016 are Democrats, they say, those last-minute campaign stops by Republicans won’t be convincing.

Next, Rosado and Morrett would like to see some direct communication. Spanish-language ads on TV aren’t enough, they say. The GOP needs to show up on the media that Latino voters actually listen to and watch, and using Spanish is a must. We saw the effect of Rick Santorum’s casual “English Only” remarks during the Republican primary in Puerto Rico; Republican candidates should be mindful of this bad example.

Rosado and Morrett don’t think the GOP needs to change positions, even on what might have been one of the touchiest topics: immigration. They do want to see a change in rhetoric. Not all Hispanics have personal connections with immigration issues (and plenty of non-Hispanics do have those personal connections), but the rhetoric used can easily create a false impression of intolerance and even racism.

Finally, Rosado and Morrett urge a renewed effort on Puerto Rican statehood. “Take the initiative on Puerto Rico,” they say. “The GOP has the opportunity to be champion and advocate for what is a growing Hispanic demographic. The right to self-delineate has been supported for Puerto Rico in the GOP platform for years.” The analysts also note that prominent Hispanic Democrats in the House of Representatives are hostile towards statehood, making the ground especially fertile for Repbublican support.

Mitt Romney was the candidate who most vocally supported Puerto Rican statehood. Governor Fortuno actively campaigned for the Republican ticket in Florida.  Both Luis Fortuno and his wife, Luce Vela Fortuno, were featured speakers at the Republican convention.  The Republican Party could be on its way already.


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