Latinos voted and Republicans got the message. The GOP can no longer ignore their inability to connect with Hispanic voters, with seventy-three percent voting for President Obama, providing a significant boost to his reelection.
Hispanics now make up 10 percent of the electorate, which means the GOP must find ways to bridge the gap to remain viable. Laura Rotolo of the Massachusetts ACLU thinks the results of the election will force changes in Republican attitudes and messaging.
“The idea that hate politics and division politics are going to rule the day is no longer available to them,” says Rotolo. “I don’t think we’re ever going to move people like Joe Arpaio or Jan Brewer, but people who can be moved, you’re going to see them moving towards the center.”
Conservative radio commentator Jesus Marquez also believes the GOP must focus on crafting a more nuanced message for Latino voters, one that resonates on a personal as well as intellectual level.
“There’s a difference in the way the Latinos receive the message. For example, it’s been proven right now the number one issue among Latinos is no longer immigration reform, but the economy,” says Marquez. “However, immigration reform is very sentimental to Latinos, because most Latinos know or have somebody that’s here illegally, so it’s very emotional to them, although it’s not the number one issue.”
Political strategist Andres Ramirez says the reason for Obama’s success with Latino voters is a combination of things, “Definitely the ground game and mobilization.”
But he also believes that messaging is key, adding that the Republican’s extremely harsh rhetoric on immigration reform has “tainted the entire GOP brand.”
“Even if Mitt Romney tried to moderate his stance in the general election, the primary rhetoric and the rhetoric in general has been so toxic and so divisive for several years, coming out of Republican leaders,” says Ramirez. “They have so much work to do to make up for all that damage.”