Growing Hispanic Population Could Force GOP Into New Era

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The GOP stands at the cusp of a changing nation, one where demographic shifts will have a significant effect on the Republican party’s future, its survival, and potential adaptions. Immigration reform is a weighty topic in Congress for 2014, but despite being a common goal on both sides of the aisle, just because there’s a will doesn’t mean there will be a way. However, the Republican party is facing a unique challenge. Many of it’s long-held states are seeing a considerable rise in Hispanic population — and a voting population, at that — which puts the historically less than well-loved GOP under new pressures to appeal to both its conservative base, and the growing population of new voters.

According to the United States Census Bureau’s report from data collected in 2010, 40 percent of the total population within the U.S. is foreign born, and 53 percent of those 40 percent originate from Latin America. In 2010, Mexico accounted for 11.7 million of those residents born on foreign soil. When considered by state, Texas, Florida, California, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii are all populated by 15 percent or more foreign born residents, four of the seven of those are Republic states, and those are only the top seven.

When it comes to party tilt, the numbers are pretty clear. According to a Gallup poll published in February of 2013, Hispanics tend to lean highly Democratic, with 51 percent of Hispanics identifying as Democrat or Democratic leaning, 20 percent as independent, and 24 percent as Republican or Republican leaning. Furthermore, according to Gallup’s examination of the study by age groups, young and old among “U.S. Racial/Ethnic Groups” were found to have very similar political views, meaning that the preferences are likely to remain static — assuming nothing major changes.

An August poll examined the Hispanic population’s party preference based on whether or not the individual was second generation immigrant, first generation, or had both parents born within the United States. Regardless of the generational gap, those polled fell with majorities in the Democratic category, ranging from 57 to 64 percent, from first generation to third.

Finally, looking at Texas as an example, it’s clear that once again, Hispanics in the state tilt strongly to the left, with 46 percent Democratic and 27 percent Republican — though it does point out that this 19 percentage point gap is considerably less than the average 30 percentage point gap seen in the rest of the U.S., and that white residents are considerably more Republican than other states.

Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion over whether or not Texas’ changing population could aid the Democratic party in Congressional and Gubernatorial elections, but Gallup reports that based on the increasing gap between Republican leaning Texan Hispanics and the statistics from the rest of the 49 states, the GOP may be making headway. In 2014, its the highest it has been in six years. One other item in favor of the GOP is the voter registration rates in the Hispanic population of Texas, with only 19 percent registered compared to 64 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

Conversely, a study conducted by Michael McDonald, head of the United States Elections Project, for the Washington Post┬ásuggests that the greatest risks are logically in swing states rather than in cemented states. McDonald’s research found that, “The share of the eligible voting populations that is Latino will rise by two percentage points from 2012-2016 in three critical presidential swing states,” according to the Post, by two percentage points in three states and one percentage point in three states. “Swing states are by their very definition contested,” said Whit Ayres, GOP Pollster, to the┬áPost.

“Many of them have been won in close races by only a percentage point or two. Changing the demographics of the state by two percentage points puts a finger on the scale in each of the swing states for the party that’s doing well among Hispanics. This underscores the critical importance for Republican candidates to do better among non-white Americans, particularly among Hispanics, if Republicans ever hope to elect another president,” said Ayres.

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