Texas Republicans are looking to rebuild their voter base by appealing to Hispanics, who make up a significant portion of the population in that state. A Gallup Poll lately found that although 30 percent of Hispanics identify with the Democratic Party, only 19 percent swing to the political left in the Lone Star State. This 81 percent spread throughout the nation has the GOP gunning to impress a new wave of voters who have the possibly to increase the Republican majority in the House and even swing the Senate back to their control.
The Hispanic community has been imbedded in Texas since the state’s founding, considering it was once part of Mexico before its independence and then its union with the United States. Republican strategist Karl Rove, a native Texan, stated that modern-era Republicans have felt comfortable campaigning in the Hispanic community throughout the years. Rove also explains that campaign coordinators for the Republican Party can learn a thing or two from the new “Texas model” which could lead to a big political payoff.
Although the nuanced approach to voter loyalty has begun in the Hispanic community, Republicans have seen increasing amounts of support in Texas. Currently, every state-wide office is held by a member of the GOP and has been for over two decades. However, the Hispanic population is forecasted to increase by over 200 percent by 2050 with non-Hispanic whites only accounting for around half of the American populous. Thus, the traditionally white voter base of the Republican Party is diminishing day by day.
GOP consultant Whit Ayres stated that if Republicans fail to capture the attention of Hispanics and secure their vote, “we’re not going to be talking about how to get Florida back, we’re going to be talking about how not to lose Texas.”
Potential 2016 presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has warned that his former home state of Texas will be Democratic in the next decade. In a country that is becoming increasingly diverse, Republicans have not had the greatest track record looking to and reaching out to minority voters, Texas being one of them.
The failed 2012 presidential campaign of former governor Mitt Romney represents the fact that the GOP campaign strategy has some problems that need addressing. Romney captured only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote – much less than the 32 percent which was netted by John McCain in 2008.
According to NBC-Wall Street Journal polls, Hispanics view the Democratic Party more disparagingly than in the previous year. With this information, the GOP has the chance to dive in and seize the political opportunity. On the campaign trail, among the wind-swept grasslands of Texas, is Bush – not the 43rd president, but his nephew. George P. Bush is campaigning for land commissioner, an elected office seen as a potential springboard for a future political career in a higher office.
Bush stated that he is embracing the tactics which sent his uncle, former president George W. Bush, to the Governor’s Mansion in Dallas and then to the White House in 2000 and 2004. He explained that his uncle had “fully bilingual, bicultural surrogate speakers” who traveled to meet with and speak to the needs of Hispanic voters. Moreover, he said that engaging every voter in the community in key battleground states that had a Hispanic population made an impact on his successful campaigns. The former president also spoke about immigration with more sympathy and practicality than Romney did.
Since immigration is at the forefront of current political quarrels in Washington, it will undoubtedly be a major campaign issue for the 2016 presidential election. Karl Rove explained that the issue of immigration keeps Hispanics, who identify better with the GOP, from hearing the entire Republican message.
Nevertheless, both George P. Bush and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) do not believe that immigration will not be the underlying factor in the election and only a “gateway” issue. “They [Hispanics] will vote for whomever speaks most to their needs and their lives beyond just immigration,” Rubio said. He explained that the Hispanic community is worried about fundamental issues like getting their children to school, getting to work, paying their bills, and getting up the next morning to build a life here in America.
George P. Bush stated that Republicans want to keep the GOP stronghold of Texas they will have to spend more time in the community. In many key battleground states, campaigns have taken on an “eat and run” mentality. They spend a limited amount of time in an area just days before an election in an attempt to spread their political message. A grass roots paradigm shift is what is needed for Republicans to secure the Hispanic vote not only in the Texas but across the nation.
By Alex Lemieux