Politics and Public Opinion

The GOP shouldn’t count on tapping latent Latino conservatism

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

In the flood of instant analysis of the GOP’s ethnic plight following the election, it has been argued that the GOP should be able get a lot higher percentage of the Latino vote. Latinos would be natural converts to a more welcoming Republican Party, because they have strong families, a great work ethic, are more religious than most Americans, and are conservative on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

Shall we look at the numbers?

I’ll start with the General Social Survey (GSS), the most widely used database for monitoring social trends. All the results that follow are based on the biennial GSS surveys conducted from 2000 to 2010.

Latinos aren’t married more than everyone else. Among Latinos ages 30–49, 52 percent are married. Everyone else: 54 percent.

Latinos aren’t more religious than everyone else. Among Latinos, 29 percent attend worship services regularly (nearly once a week or more). Everyone else: 31 percent. Among Latinos, 18 percent not only attend regularly but also say they have a strong affiliation with their religion. Everyone else: 24 percent.

Latinos aren’t more opposed to gay marriage than everyone else. Among Latinos, 44 percent disagree or strongly disagree with the statement that “homosexuals should have the right do marry.” Everyone else: 50 percent.

Latinos are a little more opposed to abortion than everyone else, but not by a landslide. Among Latinos, 12 percent are opposed to abortion under all circumstances. Everyone else: 9 percent.  Among Latinos, 21 percent are opposed to all abortion unless the mother’s health is seriously endangered. Everyone else: 14 percent.

Latinos aren’t more conservative than everyone else. Among Latinos, 14 percent describe themselves as “conservative” or “extremely conservative.” Everyone else: 20 percent.

What about the Latino work ethic? For indicators on that, I turn from the GSS to the Current Population Survey (CPS). I restrict the results to the surveys from 2000–2008, before the financial meltdown—that is, we’re looking at work behavior in years in the normal range of unemployment.

Latino men are only fractionally more likely to be in the labor force than everyone else, and those with jobs work slightly fewer hours. Among Latino men ages 30–49, 92 percent were in the labor force. All other men ages 30–49:  91 percent. Among men ages 30–49 who had jobs, Latinos worked an average of 42 hours in the preceding week. All other men ages 30–49: 44 hours.

Latino women are substantially less likely to be in the labor force than everyone else.  Among Latino women ages 30–49, 68 percent were in the labor force. All other women ages 30–49:  78 percent. Among those with jobs, hours-worked in the preceding week were virtually identical: 37.3 for Latino women, 37.5 for everyone else.

I can understand why people think Latinos are natural conservatives. Just about every Latino with whom I come in contact is hard-working and competent. I don’t get into discussions with them about their families and religion, but they sure look like go-getting, family-values Americans to me. But note the caveat: “with whom I come in contact.” There’s a huge selection artifact embedded in that caveat—I always come in contact with Latinos because they are on a work crew that’s doing something at my house or office, or at my neighbors’ houses. That’s the way that almost all Anglos in the political chattering class come in contact with Latinos. Of course they look like model Americans.

The data I used for the numbers above come from the most trustworthy, carefully conducted surveys available. They paint a portrait that gives no reason to think that Republicans have an untapped pool of social conservatives to help them win elections.

35 thoughts on “The GOP shouldn’t count on tapping latent Latino conservatism

  1. It is a signature of the “fellows” who are members of this organization is that they can simply list the characteristics of certain ethnic groups, no doubt provided by the same reliable folks who predicted a Romney landslide, and tell you how they will vote.

    Ever think of giving people SOME credit for thinking for themselves? I know that AEI people can’t, but there are some folks out there who do it all the time.

  2. As long as there are GOP representatives like Jan Brewer keeping hispanics OUT or rules that exist in VA, AL, etc….the “sharing our values” is a MOOT point between Latinos and GOP-ers

    • Hispanics don’t vote Democratic because of Jan Brewer (who actually won an election). They vote for the Democrats for a long list of other reasons. The include poverty, welfare dependency, majority illegitimacy (53%), family instability, educational failure, declining incomes (relative to white families), high crime rates, irredentism, linguistic isolation, etc.

      See also “Why Hispanics are Natural Democrats and what the GOP can do about it” (http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-hispanics-are-natural-democrats-and_12.html) for a lot more details on this subject

      • Hispanics don’t vote Democratic because of Jan Brewer (who actually won an election). They vote for the Democrats for a long list of other reasons. The include poverty, welfare dependency, majority illegitimacy (53%), family instability, educational failure, declining incomes (relative to white families), high crime rates, irredentism, linguistic isolation, etc.

        See also “Why Hispanics are Natural Democrats and what the GOP can do about it” (http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-hispanics-are-natural-democrats-and_12.html) for a lot more details on this subject”

        What a disgraceful comment. No wonder you people are a dying breed.

          • The level of gross insult you just leveled at an entire race hardly qualifies as “facts, logic, and data.”

          • There are two insults: one, that you believe so many Hispanics fall into such dysmal social metrics and the second, that these metrics automatically qualify them to vote Democraric, which is nonsense.

            If you look at the Red States, some of the stupidest, most uneducated, impoverished, obese, religiously brainwashed morons in America vote Republican.

            Your comments are racist, in that by ascribing such qualifications to Hispanics makes them Democratic voters by default, you condemn your own “logic.”

            Charles Murray is a well known racial theoretician. Let the GOP drink up his “studies” like mother’s milk, straight into oblivion.

          • “There are two insults: one, that you believe so many Hispanics fall into such dysmal social metrics and the second, that these metrics automatically qualify them to vote Democraric, which is nonsense.”

            The first part of this is easy. The socioeconomic metrics of the Hispanic community are known to anyone who has looked up the data. It’s all from the Census, the NAEP, the BLS, etc. For a totally typical example, see http://bit.ly/XC6IxH. The data shows that 57% of Hispanic households with general are using at least one welfare program. The comparable number for whites is 32%.

            The linkage between socioeconomic status and voting is certainly more complex. However, it’s no secret that highly welfare dependent communities tend to support the Democrats. Of course, individuals with post-graduate educations also lean Democratic. Obviously America has vastly more welfare recipients than Ph.D.s.

            As for red and blue states, you should actually look up the data. Poor people in red states vote Democratic, just like everywhere else. See “Rich State, Poor State, Red State, Blue State: What’s the Matter with Connecticut?∗” and “Republicans may be many things, but we are not moochers” (http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2012/11/republicans-may-be-many-things-but-we_14.html)

            Your references to obesity would be funny if they weren’t so sad. Whites have the lowest levels of obesity and tend to vote Republican. Blacks are at the opposite end. The same holds by income. High income people are thinner and vote Republican (on average). Poor people tend to be obese and vote Democratic.

            The same rules apply to education. Better educated people vote Republican (except at the very top). Uneducated people tend to vote Democratic.

          • Uhh, I get into the weeds on these articles you posted. No doubt they were hand picked to satisfy your political leanings. But I think there are a few things here that are just plain wrong

            I’ll revisit this stuff later.

          • “The data shows that 57% of Hispanic households with general are using at least one welfare program. ”

            Should read as

            “The data shows that 57% of Hispanic households with children are using at least one welfare program. “

          • MP,

            “And what percentage of White families are using “at least one welfare program?””

            You can read my prior posts or follow this link

            http://bit.ly/TgqcDj

            Note that the white-Hispanic welfare gap more or less matches the delta in voting preferences.

          • One of the best lessons I ever learned from a brilliant professor: “Correlation does not imply causation.” Hopefully you can see the relationship between that statement and your claims.

          • Peter Schaeffer,

            Would it be worse if it turned out that Max Planck, who’s mentality is probably representative of that of the other side, was, in fact, sincere in his claims.

      • The problem is that the GOP is losing the part of the hispanic community that should naturally be supporting it. I think that this is because the GOP does not seem to really have too many ‘conservative’ principles or moral positions that it stands on. They want more war, a bigger government, and to look into people’s bedrooms. Sorry but that does not sell in the hispanic community any more than it sold with white independent voters.

  3. Few serious people think Latinos will become a solidly conservative voting block, but it’s not unrealistic to expect Hispanics to vote 40%-45% Republican in most elections if the GOP changes its tone and policy with respect to immigration. That would be up from the mid to high 20% range. The GOP doesn’t have to “win” the Latino vote, it only has to win 15%-20% more in some states to win those states or at least be competitive.

    • “Few serious people think Latinos will become a solidly conservative voting block, but it’s not unrealistic to expect Hispanics to vote 40%-45% Republican in most elections if the GOP changes its tone and policy with respect to immigration.”

      Sorry, but no Republican has ever gotten 45% of the Hispanic vote. Bush got 40% (the all time high), but with policies that devastated America at home, abroad, and on the border.

      Like it or not, but immigration doesn’t drive the Hispanic vote. Reagan passed the 1986 Amnesty and Hispanics promptly shifted to the Democratic party

      Of course, the Reagan Amnesty also greatly increased the pool of likely Democratic voters. 2012 is (in some respects) Reagan’s folly coming back to haunt the Republican party.

      Here is a simple way of understanding Amnesty and the Republican party.

      “Republicans don’t win by importing Democrats”

      Note that even in the Republican party got an additional 15%-20% of the Hispanic vote, Romney would have still lost in an electoral college landslide. Exactly one state would have changed hands (Florida).

  4. Sounds straightforward to me. Americans of Hispanic origin pretty much share the values of everyone else. But they largely vote for Democrats. Why? Perhaps because they see themselves in part as a minority group that is not always welcomed by some Republican leaders, thus threatened to a degree. Is inclusion of distinct minority groups (known as building a coalition) really that difficult a challenge for the Republican party?

  5. What you said may be true about them not being anymore conservative than the average population. So in a country split 50/50 we need to get them from voting against us 71/29.

    • andy,

      Over the last 40 years (1972-2012) the Republicans got 32.2% of the Hispanic two-party vote. The Democrats got 67.8%. 2012 was only modestly worse than average for Republicans.

      Open Borders is slowly killing the Republican party, not any sudden failure to attract Hispanic votes. Since Hispanics will remain firmly in the Democratic camp for decades to come, Amnesty is electoral suicide for Republicans. Back in 1986, sane people said that Reagan’s Amnesty (the IRCA) would come back to haunt the Republican party.

      They were right.

  6. Wow! I can not believe the level of ignorance, audacity, and arrogance of an AEI author to have the insensitive will to go ahead and write that the only Hispanics he has seen are those that fix the homes and offices of rich Anglos and their neighbors. You loose the Hispanic vote with articles like this. I feel insulted. My father is an executive director, my brother is an assistant manager at 25 and I am a business owner with a masters degree in political science. And there are millions like us including billionaires, doctors, lawyers, professors, authors, etc. I have plenty of research and academic materials to discredit this poll or this author’s poor evaluation of it but I don’t like wasting my time writing to someone so willingly insensitive and insulting. If AEI wishes to hear from me let me know. I voted for Romney and for McCain but I can understand why Hispanics vote democrat, especially after reading this.

    • Nobody should be insulted by facts. If you don’t like Murray’s argument, try to put together a rejoinder. You might want to consider that “data” is not the plural of “anecdote”.

    • I’m confused now. Murray is incorrectly reporting the data from the GSS, or the GSS data is wrong? If you have refutational data, you should share that. NORC has always had a very high reputation for its methodology. This particular study series goes back about 40 years.

  7. The GOP elite have bought this “Hispanics are socially conservative” nonsense, because their frame of reference for social conservatism is southern prole whites. They see some superficial similarities between the two groups, and assume that Hispanics are simply proles who speak Spanish.

  8. The Latin community can see that the GOP is not really conservative and that it clearly is not principled. And I am not sure that it is really conservative either.

  9. Dr. Murray,

    You caveat about your personal impressions of Hispanics being hard-working and religious is that it comes from those Hispanics whom you’ve come in contact with.

    Where, then, are those Hispanics who are like everyone else? I do not doubt your data; I just wonder what the geographic breakdown would be, and why.

  10. Hispanics are legally privileged by affirmative action and disparate impact discrimination lawsuits. It’s perfectly sensible for Hispanics to believe that Democratic politicians are even more committed to preserving these Latino privileges than Republican politicians are.

  11. Remember, Reagan, the most successful president of the post-WWII era passed a huge amnesty bill.

    Everyone predicted that now, the hispanics would vote Republican.

    What happened was a huge shift to the left.

    History does not rhyme in this case, it repeats itself. People haven’t read up on the facts. And Murray provides boatloads of them. No, these people are not conservative by social or economic issues save only on abortion.

    On economic issues they’re far to the left.

    The GOP will become like the GOP in California. Permanent minority.

    Of course, even so, from 20 years hence you will still see articles about the importance of getting the black vote, despite 95% of them voting democratic for all the reasons you know.

    If the Democratic party is the evil party then the Republican party must be the stupid party. It’s insane how these folks never, ever learn anything.

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