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Among the Evangélicos


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among-evang-licos_707679.html?nopager=1The Weekly Standard:

For Republicans reaching out to immigrant groups, a glimmer of hope: Protestant Hispanics are genuine swing voters.


Mar 25, 2013


Marietta, Ga.

The 2004 presidential election was the Republican party’s high-water mark with Hispanic voters. George W. Bush received between 40 and 44 percent of the Hispanic vote that year. Bush lost Hispanic Catholics to John Kerry, but he overwhelmingly won Hispanic evangelicals, 69 percent to Kerry’s 29 percent.


In 2008, the numbers changed dramatically. Barack Obama secured the votes of 74 percent of Hispanics, while John McCain won a paltry 22 percent, despite having been the GOP’s spokesman for comprehensive immigration reform. Sixty percent of Hispanic evangelicals supported Obama, and just 36 percent McCain. Four years later, Obama’s support among Hispanics dipped slightly, to 71 percent, but Mitt Romney received only 27 percent. An October 2012 Pew poll found that while 73 percent of Hispanic Catholics supported Obama, just 50 percent of Hispanic evangelicals did so, with 39 percent supporting Romney. Republicans have no reason to be happy about that small uptick, since their net loss with Hispanic evangelical voters over eight years was an abysmal 30 points.


The truth is that in 2004, Bush won the popular vote by a little more than 3 million votes, which is nearly equal to his 40 percent share of the 7.6 million Hispanics who voted in 2004. Bush’s popular vote victory, the only one by a Republican since 1988, was due in no small part to his support from Hispanic evangelicals (about 15 percent of all Hispanics). They are the quintessential swing-voter group. If Republicans hope to gain a foothold with Hispanic voters—and start winning presidential elections again—they might want to begin by visiting Iglesia Misionera, a Spanish-language evangelical church in metro Atlanta.




Since the GOP’s drubbing in the 2012 presidential contest, Republicans have wondered if a more conciliatory platform on immigration could help them recapture the Hispanic votes they lost after 2004. The hardline image the GOP has cultivated, wittingly or not, hasn’t helped move Hispanics into the Republican column. But even if Republicans acquiesce to some kind of comprehensive immigration reform, the party will still have to deal with the reality that its more libertarian elements are unappealing to evangelicals, the Hispanic group with the most natural affinity for the GOP.


That’s no reason for Republicans to despair. Somewhere in the party’s long tradition, there are principles and policies that can attract a group that values family, community, and the church. A party that can win Hispanic evangelicals might be one that can combine pro-family tax policies, pro-growth economic policies, traditionalism on social issues, and a realistic immigration policy. And a little salsa on top couldn’t hurt.

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