Conservatives fail to realize they have an important opening among Hispanics who don't vote, says Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute.
Standard conservative analysis of the GOP's Hispanic problem makes two flawed assumptions, he writes in The Wall Street Journal
"First, it is not true that an increasing Hispanic population means an increasing vote share for Democrats," he says. "Second, it is not true that a conservative message will fail to appeal to Hispanics."
"What do we know about the Hispanics who don't vote?" he adds. "Among other things, they are the ones most likely to call themselves 'political conservatives.'"
Brooks cites a 2010 report from the National Opinion Research Center indicating that Hispanics vote in far lower percentages than other ethnic voters. The report, he says, shows that non-voting Hispanics are 52 percent more likely than Hispanic voters to label themselves conservatives.
So the question becomes what is keeping these conservative Hispanics away from the polls?
"I believe it is the inability or unwillingness of most conservative politicians to address the issue of primary importance to all groups of Hispanic voters: care for the poor," says Brooks.
"The solution, then, is not to derail immigration reform or find some other way to slow down Hispanic political participation. The solution is to make a serious, conservative bid to help the poor and vulnerable."
That includes a commitment to the social safety net, reform of Social Security and Medicare, and education reform, he writes.
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