The Republican Party has failed to heed the lessons of its 2012 election postmortem report and is at risk of losing the 2016 presidential election if potential candidates and elected officials continue to pursue policies that alienate Hispanic voters, says a Democrat pollster
"Well, in both tone and policy, possible Republican presidential candidates for 2016 either have not read the report or have chosen to ignore it.
"And unlike financial warnings, in which past performance does not necessarily predict future results, if Republican presidential candidates continue to embrace [Iowa GOP Rep.] Steve King instead of Martin Luther King, past performance will be very predictive of future results with Hispanic voters," writes Jeff Horwitt, vice president at Hart Research Associates, which is part of the Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling team.
Horwitt suggests that the tone on the issue of immigration at the recent Iowa Freedom Summit, which was hosted by Rep. King, will continue to alienate Hispanic voters, a majority of whom support President Barack Obama's decision to use his executive authority to grant amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants.
He cites in particular the findings from a January Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll
in which a clear majority (73 percent) of Hispanics supported Obama's executive action on immigration.
Those results echo the findings of a November 2014 national poll of Latino voters that found 89 percent back Obama's executive action, while 80 percent of Latino voters said they opposed efforts by congressional Republicans to prevent funding from being used to implement executive action. The poll was conducted by Latino Decisions
shortly after Obama announced his plans to use executive authority.
With the exception of House Speaker John Boehner, the silence about the "anti-immigrant" tone at King's event by those potential Republican presidential candidates in attendance "does not speak well" for GOP prospects in 2016, Horwitt says.
Echoing Horwitt is CNN contributor Ruben Navarrette
, who wrote recently that "Republicans don't have to turn themselves inside out, but they need to deal with immigration with more honesty, nuance and common sense" if they do not want to alienate Hispanic voters.
He suggests party members "adopt a zero tolerance policy the next time a Republican official says something racist or nativist" and choose to engage, rather than ignore, Hispanic voters because, Navarrette argues, "despite what the polls say — not all Hispanics support Obama's executive action because they oppose illegal immigration as much as other Americans."
In fact, views on immigration and Obama's executive action vary depending on the wording of particular polls
, says The Washington Post's research analyst Scott Clement.
"The divergent results [between a CBS News and a Washington Post poll] confirm that specifics matter quite a lot in public opinion on immigration, with opinion nuanced in ways that can benefit or hurt both Obama and Republicans. Americans' general reaction to allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country is negative, but support rises to a majority when the situation is temporary, dependent on working or involves other requirements.
"Tactics of both sides appear palatable as well; Obama's use of executive action has not been broadly rejected, but neither are Republicans' ideas about defunding department budgets to block it," he said.
The 2014 midterm elections indicate Republicans can attract Hispanic voters with the right message.
Democrats won the Latino vote by a margin of 62 percent to 36 percent nationally, but that represented a decline from the 68 percent they gained in 2012, reported the Pew Research Center
In some states Republican candidates won more than 40 percent of the Latino vote, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of National Election Pool exit poll data, and seemed to have benefited by focusing on economic issues and other "pocketbook" concerns.
"It's not a massive phenomenon, but Latinos identified less with the Democratic Party and a growing share identified with Republicans," Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic Research at the Pew Research Center, told The Washington Post
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