Republicans are keenly aware that they must begin to peel away Latino voters from Democrats, who gave President Obama 71% of their vote in 2012. But there’s a huge problem for those 2016 efforts, rarely discussed and largely forgotten.
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive favorite for the Democratic nomination, beat Obama 2-to-1 among Latino voters in the 2008 primary. It wasn’t just name recognition, either. The Clintons have a robust network of Latino leaders and activists, and long history with outreach that dates back to 1970s in Texas.
This is not to say Clinton’s path is totally clear — her 2008 campaign was not without stumbles, and she faced difficult questions last year from activists on immigration. If Jeb Bush were the Republican nominee, some argue, he might actually compete for a significant share of Latino support, something activists aren’t totally closed to. But there is no other candidate both as likely to win a party nomination and who will be starting with the established, enduring Latino support, as Clinton.