While Latino immigrants tend to prefer the Democratic Party over the GOP, a new study from the Pew Research Center finds that their children are even more likely to identify with Democrats. In the face of immigration reform talks and the shrinking of the GOP’s white voter base, several experts we spoke to indicate that this trend clearly illustrates the beginning of the end for the Republican Party.
The report includes information about Asian immigrants, as well.
Although 63% of Latino immigrants lean Democrat, for their children this figure is 71%, with just 19% preferring the Republicans. This is despite the fact that just 36% of second-generation Latinos consider themselves “very liberal” or “liberal,” compared to 27% of their parents. As a matter of fact, only 28% of second-generation Latinos consider themselves conservative.
“These results are a ringing endorsement of ‘liberalism’ from the children of immigrants. Immigration has bolstered that political philosophy,” said Susan Gonzalez Baker, Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington.
“[The report] reveals a negligible affiliation with the Republican Party among Latino second-generation adults, and a significant tendency to self-identify as ‘liberal.’”
While results from the report may be partly attributed to the fact that young people tend to be more liberal than their parents, this report also flies in the face of the idea that Latinos are inherently Republican because of their “conservative” values. The report also highlighted support for big government in both first and second generation Latinos, as well as support for gay rights and and access to abortion.
“This finding contradicts the oft repeated phrase that Latinos are Republicans in waiting because of their supposed ‘traditional values,’” said Jody Agius Vallejo, sociology professor at the University of Southern California. “Latinos are presently not attracted to the Republican party and there is no reason to think that Latinos will become Republicans just because a few Republicans support immigration reform. Latinos also understand that Republicans are pandering, or Hispandering, to them.”
Agius Vallejo suggested that the assimilation experience of Latinos is not unlike that of other immigrant groups in the U.S., in the sense that each generation surpasses the socioeconomic status of the previous generation. But the big difference for Latinos is that they are being specifically targeted by legislation that is mostly emanating from the Republican Party.
“Many immigrants and their descendants face severely discriminatory policies, such as Arizona’s SB1070 and Alabama’s HB 56, and disparaging political rhetoric that reinforce their ethnic identities and social difference in every day life,” she told Politic365.
These policies are essentially guiding the GOP to its own destruction, she said.
“The GOP’s base is shrinking as the white population shrinks, and the Latino population is expected to double to 30% of the population by 2040 — and in this same year whites will no longer comprise a majority of the population,” she said. “Republicans are scared and unless they change their often discriminatory rhetoric and policies targeting minorities, especially Latinos, it is possible that the party’s numbers will continue to decline.”
But just because Republicans seem to be playing a losing game, it doesn’t mean that Democrats should not be redoubling their efforts to cater to a demographic that already seems to be in their corner.
“The Democratic Party cannot count on the Latino vote yet. The worry is not that they’ll vote Republican — the worry should be that they’ll just stay home,” Gonzalez Baker said. “It’s up to the Democratic Party to get Latino voters fired up both with appealing candidates and with a diverse set of social and economic policies.”