Much has been made of the Hispanic vote in the 2016 election. It makes sense in certain states where the Hispanic vote can make a difference in a close election and awarding of that state’s electoral votes. However, it must be realized that the Republican candidate need not “win” the Hispanic vote outright nationally or even in particular states. An improvement over 2008 or 2012 could make the difference.
With that being said, it would behoove the GOP to heed certain polls that have come out and which have remained fairly constant in their findings over the recent past. Despite the emphasis placed on immigration, that topic is not the top concern of Hispanics. And let us be certain here: when speaking of the Hispanic population, the only segment that counts is that which can cast a ballot in 2016. It is those Hispanics to whom the GOP must address their message.
It is quite surprising what some of these polls indicate. Despite the alleged hostility towards Hispanics, two-thirds of those polled said they were not the victims of discrimination during the previous five years. They were also more optimistic than most as 72% surveyed believed they would be better off financially than their parents. They said their top life priority was to be successful in their career (85%), having children (70%), being married (56%), or having a religious lifestyle (56%). These are conservative/Republican ideals. Nowhere is there a belief that the government owes them anything. In fact, 84% of those surveyed said that hard work and dedication, not government hand-outs, would create success. Regarding religion, 87% report they attend church services at least sometimes with 37% reporting weekly attendance.
On social issues, while the general population fluctuates on the issue of abortion, 56% of Hispanics disapprove of abortion. Conversely, although many “approve” of gay marriage, that tendency is certainly less than in the general population. And despite their age, a good majority of Hispanics (58%) frown on illegitimacy. Clearly on the social issues, Hispanics tend to be more conservative and their thinking is more in line with the GOP than the Democrats.
As for what Hispanics view as the most important issues facing them personally, we find that immigration reform has fallen consistently no higher than fourth on their list of priorities. Their top concerns are their economic station in life, education, with jobs or national security figuring higher than immigration. In short, Hispanic concerns and priorities largely mirror those of the general population. They do not sit around the table talking about immigration reform, anchor babies, amnesty and the like. They are more likely to be talking about bills, school and day-to-day living.
It is groups like La Raza, Univision or Telemundo “reporters,” and a compliant Democratic Party that portrays immigration reform as a top concern of the legal, voting Hispanic community in the United States. It is the same dynamic which frames the alleged war on women which revolves around one’s opinion on abortion. To the Left, the issue of abortion defines women; to the Left, immigration reform defines Hispanics. This is a tried and true tactic of the Left to reduce some demographic group down to a single issue. And just as if you polled women, the issue of abortion would likely not fall at the top of their list of priorities.
The immigration system is broken and needs reform, but first we need for the laws that do exist to be enforced. Hispanics, like any other group, will feel some connection to their group and circle the wagons and react against a perceived threat, no matter how real or justified the threat. But, if the GOP wants to make inroads with the legal, voter-eligible Hispanic community, they would do well to place less emphasis on immigration reform and greater emphasis on economic policies that will affect all Americans positively- including Hispanics- and especially education. One of these polls asked respondents what the top hindrance was for Hispanics in doing good at school. There was no finger-pointing at a racist society or English language shortcomings: it was lack of parental involvement. In short, it was a shortfall based on personal responsibility. Isn’t that a breath of fresh air in today’s world of hyphenated Americans and victimization?