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GOP Bid For Hispanic Vote 'Quixotic,' Study Says

By August Gribbin

August 23, 2001
Copyright © 2001 THE WASHINGTON TIMES. All Rights Reserved.

     The Republican Party is pursuing a lost cause in attempting to woo Hispanic voters, and the continuing Hispanic immigration will increasingly boost Democratic ranks as the traditional Republican voting base shrinks, says a Center for Immigration Studies report. Top Stories

     "Across all nationality groups except Cubans," Democrats have a 20 percentage point advantage "in nearly all states," according to last week's report by James Gimpel and Karen Kaufmann, University of Maryland political scientists who specialize in immigration policies.

     Among Cuban-Americans, "the once-large GOP lead has dwindled to just 6 percentage points."

     The assertions are based on recent polls and an analysis of party affiliation. The authors say party identification is "one of the most reliable guides for vote choice." The study examined the party preference of Hispanics "according to vote intention, registration, and citizenship status."

     The authors noted that, although competing for the Hispanic bloc vote against the odds might appear "quixotic," party leaders had little choice because, even lacking "serious gains," some of the Hispanic vote is better than none.

     Sharon J. Castillo, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, insists the party is making gains.

     "Latest polls and surveys show that the more Hispanics learn about President Bush's policies, the more they agree with them," he said. "Eighty-nine percent of Hispanic parents approve of the president's education policies, 62 percent agree with privatizing Social Security, and 60 percent support the president's tax cut. We see a pattern. The more Hispanics know about the GOP, the more they like it."

     What's more, the study's conclusions contradict White House claims. Just weeks ago, Karl Rove, the president's chief political strategist, told The Washington Times that Hispanics are embracing President Bush and his policies. He said Mr. Bush's policy initiatives, high-level appointments and foreign visits were winning over Hispanics, and he pointed to a Gallup poll that found Mr. Bush had a 59 percent approval rating among Hispanics.

     Hispanics currently constitute the nation's largest minority group, and as the proportion of white, non-Hispanic residents is dwindling, the Hispanic population is increasing at 2 percent or more per year. It's a rate unmatched even at the peak of the baby-boom expansion after World War II.

     President Bush now broadcasts his weekly radio messages in Spanish, and repeatedly speaks before Latino groups. More importantly, the president is seeking a guest-worker program for foreign laborers, arguing for the right of Mexican truckers to roam America's highways and favoring some form of amnesty for illegal immigrants.

     Such issues don't resonate among Hispanics, Mr. Gimpel and Miss Kaufmann argue. Rather, Hispanics support a wide array of social programs. Or as Steven A. Camarota, research director of the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies, puts it:

     "The things that animate Hispanic voters tend to be policies that assist low-income people minimum wage, tax credits, government benefits. They want affirmative action. And to a large extent, GOP attempts to communicate with Hispanics must go through a hostile Hispanic elite of Democratic media and politicians."

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