Will Christie win New Jersey's Latino vote on Tuesday?

The Christie camp appears to be doubling-down on the notion that the GOP will nominate someone seen as the most electable candidate in 2016, rather than one that can win over the base. But Christie’s strong showing in New Jersey among Hispanics may not be enough to convince Republican bigwigs that he can do the same thing nationwide. For one thing, the Hispanic population in New Jersey, while large and diverse, is not representative of the population in the rest of the country. Only Florida boosts more Cuban-American voters, a constituency that has traditionally voted Republican (One of New Jersey’s U.S. Senators, Robert Menendez, is Cuban-American.) In 2009, Christie eked out a slight win against incumbent governor Jon Corzine and still garnered 32 percent of the Hispanic vote. For him to show broad appeal to Latinos nationwide he may have to do better than the 40 percent he is currently polling among Latinos against weak Democratic opposition.

The Christie campaign’s current showing among Latinos is impressive given that it has been a campaign that that is not without some hiccups. Christie has been criticized by some Hispanic groups for choosing as his running mate Kim Guardano, a former sheriff of Monmouth County. In her previous job, Guardano was one of the few New Jersey officials to implement a controversial federal program that permitted local police to check the immigration status of those they stop. And earlier this month, the Latino Action Network, a New Jersey civil rights group, filed a legal complaint against the administration accusing it of failing to provide equal access to information to Spanish speakers affected by Hurricane Sandy. According to the group, the website RenewJerseyStronger.org provided Spanish speakers with incorrect hours of operation and deadlines, and the appeals process for those denied grants was only in English.

The Christie campaign credits his showing among Latinos not just to his outreach but to his pushing for a number of policies appealing to that community, including more charter schools and education reform. Still, the campaign has made a point of reaching out to Latinos, spending over $1 million on Spanish-language TV ad buys and advertising heavily on Spanish radio and through direct mail.