By: Paul Bentz
A recent study by GROW Elect and Moore Information shared some very interesting insights into registered Latino voters in ten California congressional districts expected to be competitive in the 2014 mid-term elections. Take a look at their findings (pdf).
It was interesting that immigration was only a piece of the puzzle. While the information was more specific to California, there are some themes that Republicans in Arizona should take note of, not only in the ongoing efforts to appeal to Latino voters, but to appeal to younger and swing voters as well.
Jobs and the economy
In their survey, 35% of respondents listed jobs and the economy as their number one issue. This should be in the wheelhouse for Republicans, if they are able to hold on to the issue. During the last Presidential cycle, it was frustrating that Romney never truly articulated his plan for the economy or emphasized President Obama’s failures. Lo and behold, the one time Romney did focus on the topic (in the first debate), he gained some traction.
However, this was easily derailed by moving the conversation to a whole host of other topics. As we have said before, this speaks to the fact that Republicans need to be “for” something, not simply against whatever Democrats propose. Having an articulated plan for economic recovery would go a long way to appeal to Latino, younger and swing voters.
A party with a plan
In the GROW/Moore survey, it was disappointing that 21% of the respondents simply believe that Republicans are racist, but even more telling were the number of respondents who believe Republicans are out of touch. They found that 41% of the Latinos tested believed that the GOP didn’t understand the challenges of people of color and 38% believed that Republicans favored the rich. The “party of the rich” designation is much more troubling because it plays directly into the class warfare that the President engaged in throughout the last cycle.
Republicans cannot allow their opponents to continue to tag them with the label of “angry, rich, old, intolerant, white guy, without responding. Focusing on people like Senator Marco Rubio and others who have come from humble beginnings is not enough. All Republicans, even the older white men, need a plan; and that plan must include the theme of tolerance of differences. Since President Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory in 1980, we have been the party of the Big Tent.
We discussed this in our blog before referring to the messaging challenge surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement, “Similar to the ‘repeal and replace’ messaging on Obamacare, Republicans must offer solutions of their own instead of just voicing their opposition. Class warfare can be divisive and powerful, without a strategy, Republicans face being on the losing side of the argument.”
The Republican party of Teddy Roosevelt, the one that busted up economic monopolies and created competitive opportunities for the American economy to grow, needs a rebirth. The economic tailspin the country and world was put in by our banking industry has still not been fixed. “Too big to fail” has practically been institutionalized under the Obama administration with nary a peep of Republican opposition.
Speaking of education, the voters tested supported affordable college education and support for vocation education and job training. Again, these are things that Republicans are traditionally in favor of. However, instead of focusing on these issues, we see a protracted argument over Common Core and Agenda 21 conspiracy theories.
Governor Brewer has laid out a plan to fund performance education that includes paying for the education we want, not simply the system we have. It funds common core implementation, an improved data system, career and technical education pathways, and rewarding schools for both achievement and improvement. From Proposition 100 to her latest budget recommendations, Governor Brewer understands the need for Republicans to support education. It would be wise for others in the state to follow.
There are some core functions of government that need to be funded. Education is one of them. When Proposition 204 was defeated last cycle, it presented a perfect opportunity for Republicans to offer up something of their own. The Governor’s plan lays a path for Republicans in the future.
More than immigration
Nationally, there has been a lot of discussion about the future of the Republican Party and how the GOP needs to adapt to changes in technology, culture, and perception. Hip websites, memes, and modern communication strategies can only go so far, you still have to build a coalition of people who agree with you. In the end, the effort for Republicans to reach out to Latino voters is more than just their position on immigration issues. It’s about articulating more than just what you oppose; you need to give people an opportunity to agree.