Confirmed: A Latino VP would hugely help the GOP’s chances with Latino voters

posted at 1:20 pm on March 6, 2012 by Tina Korbe

If Michael Scherer is right and Latinos will pick the next president, then the eventual GOP nominee — whoever he might be — is in trouble. According to a Fox News Latino poll conducted under the direction of Latin Insights, President Barack Obama beats any of the GOP candidates among Latino voters by a margin of six-to-one:

The national poll of likely Latino voters indicated that 73 percent of them approved of Obama’s performance in office, with over half those questioned looking favorably upon his handling of the healthcare debate and the economy, at 66 percent and 58 percent respectively.

Released on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries in the race for the GOP nomination, the Fox News Latino poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 35 percent of Latino voter support, to Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s 13 percent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich‘s 12 percent, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s 9 percent.

But the poll shows that the overwhelming choice among likely Latino voters is President Obama. In head-to-head match-ups none of the GOP candidates would garner more than 14 percent of the Latino vote come November, the poll said. …

While the poll indicates that four of five Latinos who voted for Obama in 2008 would vote for him later this year, Latinos who voted for Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain four years ago are now divided between voting for Obama and the Republican candidates. Forty percent said that they favored Obama while 38 percent said they would vote for Romney. Obama also leads Santorum 38 percent to 34, and Gingrich 40 percent to 38.

It’s unclear exactly why Latino voters so favor Obama. Like all voters, Latinos cite jobs and the economy as the most important election issue to them — and, on that, Obama has failed Latinos no less than he has failed Americans at large. After the economy, Latinos cite education and health care as their top priorities. Perhaps that’s where Obama has won them over. The GOP candidates oppose the DREAM Act, for example, which has as much to do with education as with immigration. Immigration is the fourth-most important issue to Latino voters, and they’re not pleased with either the GOP candidates’ or Obama’s performance on that issue.

At this point, the GOP candidates can’t do much to tailor their platforms to Latino voters. In this particular cycle, a doctrinaire attitude against illegal immigration became requisite to convince the conservative base that the candidates would, in fact, govern as conservatives — and that meant decrying DREAM, any form of in-state tuition for the children of immigrants who entered the country illegally at all and free emergency room care to undocumented immigrants, among other policies.

The best the GOP nominee can do is hammer home just how disastrous Obama’s policies have been for the economy — and, er, pick a Latino running mate:

One area where Republicans could gain back ground among Latino voters is by the choice of Vice President. Almost one-third of Latino voters say that they would consider voting Republican if there were a Latino on the ticket.  …

Almost one-quarter of Latinos said they would be more willing to vote for a Republican if [Marco] Rubio was on the ticket, with this number rising to almost four-in-ten in Florida, a potential swing state.

About one-fifth of likely Latino voters would be more willing to vote for a Republican if [Susana] Martínez  got the VP nod.

But, then, to judge by the frequency with which Marco Rubio’s name is brought up as a great choice for the vice presidential slot, the GOP probably already knew that.

At this point, though, I’m with George Will: We need to make sure we secure Congress. That means we need Marco Rubio in the Senate and, for that matter, Allen West in the House. Surely we can find a VP candidate from among the ranks of GOP governors.

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