Romney and the Vote: Latinos, Women and Endorsements
Romney is having trouble: all recent data indicates that he’s winning old white men, but nobody else likes him. This is particularly true amongst women and Latinos. Although Gingrich is still delusionally sticking it out, the rest of the world has moved on, and the Republican party is uniting behind Mitt Romney. At least the rank and file of the Republican party is: the leadership is still treating the Mormonater like a leper.
Everyone in the GOP establishment is either giving weak endorsements, outright distancing themselves and/or planning their run for 2016. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have been pretty lukewarm, avoiding the VP position while many around them hint that they would have preferred them as the nominee… or Mitch McConnel, Paul Ryan, or a long list of other prominent Republicans. Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert from Texas said everyone should be excited for Romney, because he’s been on everyone’s side of the issue at some point.
The endorsement problems don’t end there: Romney reached deep into the Republican establishment and pulled George H. Bush out, grabbing the endorsement of an old man who has nothing to lose politically. His acceptance of Trump’s endorsement would have been less awkward if he was accepting the endorsement of the chimp that Reagan was in Bedtime for Bonzo with. He’s also accepted the endorsements of Kris Kobach and Jan Brewer, however, these are poison to the Latino vote. This is because SB 1070, the law which Romney called a model for the nation, is a blatant racial profiling law allowing police to check the immigration status of anyone who looks undocumented. If you’ve ever been to Arizona, you know that this means anyone who looks Mexican, which is about 1/2 the people there. Kris Kobach helped to author SB1070 and Jan Brewer signed into law in Arizona.
SB1070 is going before the Supreme Court next week, and was one of the reasons Arizona won Bill Maher’s coveted “most fucked up state” award. Dolores Huerta, one of the most popular figures within Latino culture and a woman whose photo is likely to be kept in a place of honor in a Mexican household, denounced the law by megaphone outside of the last Republican debate in Arizona. This law, just as much as deportations, has become a rallying cry for Latinos and immigrants across the country and is something Obama is mopping the floor with Romney on.
Obama is winning key demographics by large margins according to a recent Wall Street Journal survey: Obama’s at 69% with Latinos and 53% with women vs. 22% and 41% for Mitt, not to mention 90% vs 4% with African Americans, 44% vs 34% with independents and even 60% vs. 34% for the 18-34 demographic. Mitt now finds himself in the unenviable position of having to fight his way out of a corner that he has so thoroughly painted himself into over the last few months.
Although all those numbers hurt, women vote more than men, and Latinos are a large demographic in many of the swing states. For example, Latinos alone have turned the recently red state of Arizona into a purple state, Florida is leaning toward Obama with Latinos and African Americans breaking strong for him and North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico all have Latino populations which could single-handedly decide which way the state breaks, especially if they vote as strongly for Obama as they are poised to.
It seems as though Romney’s plan to deal with his problem with women and Latinos revolve around 2 people, Anne Romney and Marco Rubio. He’s been leaning on his wife heavily, who seems to be far more likeable than he is. When they’re on stage together, she’s certainly far more lifelike, perhaps even charismatic in front of rabid crowds and cameras (which is truly a feat). Since she was attacked by Rosen with the “never worked a day in her life” comment, she’s had a bit more of the sympathetic spotlight. She takes the high road and doesn’t fling mud, choosing not to toss fuel on the fake “war on women” from her husband so far.
Marco Rubio, meanwhile, is behind closed doors on immigration issues, working on his own version of the DREAM Act that will somehow allow Romney to back up from his promised veto. There are a lot of lobbyists and organizers who are waiting with baited breath, anxious to see what will come and if it will offer real relief beyond what is necessary to pander. There are also a lot of organizers waiting with baited venom, anxious to attack anything that comes out, but not being able to until there’s something to attack.
Rubio has a rare opportunity: enough of the “average Americans” are still at least semi-paying attention to politics in the wake of a sugar rush primary to make a statement. This statement could redeem the Republicans in Latino eyes, and turn a 47% lead around. Republicans could come out with a DREAM Act of their own and promise fewer deportations for their bottom line. If this happens, all bets are off.
Rubio’s bill could also, however, be a cynical ploy after an intentional, controlled press leak to keep everyone holding their breath while they should be tearing into Romney. One can only hope there would be consequences for jerking the immigrant’s rights community around like this. The most readily visible casualties would be the Latinos who still have faith that Republicans will help their undocumented friends and family, and the Latino independents who were not completely turned off by the primaries and are still conservative enough to listen to what Republicans have to say.
The Latino vote has been courted aggressively from both ends as of late: Mitt Romney has been holding hands with Marco Rubio, while the Obama campaign has launched Latinos for Obama, featuring synchronized house parties with phone calls from George Lopez. The reality for Romney is that, while Obama still looks bad on the deportation issue, the primary has forced him too far to the right: his promised veto of the DREAM Act and “self-deportation” strategy are things which Latinos cringe at hearing; the offense has become nigh visceral.
If Obama can somehow tone down the deportations, perhaps even in a unilateral way with deferred prosecutions or other ways that the President can uniquely help, he could say that he is throwing his own weight around to help Latinos. With this, I think he could counter anything that Romney could offer. On the other hand, if Romney can reverse his stance on the DREAM Act and “self-deportations” after having a life raft thrown to him by Rubio and using anything he’s given to pivot madly, he may actually come out with near-Bush numbers.
While the Latino demographic is part of a narrative that says Democrats are better for minorities and hence Latinos, this is still a fairly weak narrative and Latinos are still forming their own identity as a giant voter bloc; they’re still just deciding upon which of their values they will vote for as a community. Right now, the only things written in stone for Latino voters is that they want the DREAM Act and fewer deportations.