Earlier this week there was a piece over at Politico about Obama’s poll numbers with Hispanics.
Surprise: he’s not doing too well! His approval rating is in the 40’s! The extended recession had made Latinos more cynical!
None of this was news and despite the fact that a couple of other political news outlets ran with the Lake Research story on Latinos I refused to bite.
Shouldn’t diminishing excitement from Latino voters be the hottest story on the political presses a year out from what is likely going to be an incredibly tough election? No, it shouldn’t and last night’s Republican debate is the main reason why.
All polls are not created equal and polling about the president always has to be viewed in context. Meaning, it really doesn’t matter that much if his approval ratings amongst Latinos drops unless there is an equal shift in support in favor of the Republican Party – or, more specifically, a Republican candidate.
When you look at last night’s GOP debate on National Security no Democrat should be all that concerned about where the Latino vote will go. A significant portion of the debate was focused on immigration as a national security issue. That in and of itself is one of the reasons why the GOP continues to get the side-eye from Latinos.
Most Democrats and Independents consider immigration to be a domestic policy or an economics issues, and when Mexican immigrants coming into the U.S. is linked with the notion of threat, which is inherent when it’s mentioned in the context of national security, it brings forth a whole bunch of other racial and social bugaboos that make Latino voters nervous. Consider this: The Biggest story from last night’s debate was Newt suggesting that dragging every single illegal back to Mexico might not be the wisest thing for the party to do. Rick Perry got gutted for saying something similar a few months back, and tongues are wagging today as to whether Gingrich will face any blowback for his stance.
This is the inherent GOP problem with Latino voters. When there are serious political consequences for suggesting that splitting up families that have been living in America for 20 years is not a good idea, your primary constituency and your general election constituency clearly do not see eye to eye. So, bring on more bad polling for Obama, it may eventually cut into the turnout levels for him in crucial swing states but when it comes to actual Latinos going to the polls to support him, the GOP doesn’t seem to have much to offer just yet.
Dr. Jason Johnson, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson