Latino voters as “Reagan Democrats?” You’re having a laugh

During yesterday’s CPAC panel on immigration reform, Alfonso Aguilar, the executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, claimed that “Latino voters are the Reagan Democrats of today.” Rev. Luis Cortés Jr.​ added, “I believe that the majority of them can actually be members of CPAC in the future.”

Aguilar’s claim is preposterous. Reagan Democrats wouldn’t have voted by more than 70 percent for a leftist president.

Cortes’ claim, pertaining as it does to the future, isn’t absurd. It’s possible that at some point in the future a majority of Latinos will favor whatever passes for conservatism at that juncture.

But it’s sobering to recall how long it took the wave of immigrants — Irish, Italian, Eastern European Catholics — who came to this country in the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century to begin favoring conservative candidates (I exclude Eastern European Jews because they still don’t). The “Reagan Democrats” did not emerge until the last twenty years of the 20th century.

Until then, they were just plain Democrats who served as foot soldiers in the radical leftward transformation of America.

Any conservative who favors amnesty and a path to citizenship is liable to make dubious claims about the innate conservatism of Latino immigrants. But conservatives who are paid to organize Latino voters, or consult about them, have a special, personal interest in wildly exaggerating this alleged phenomenon.

Latinos overwhelmingly vote for liberals in spite of the efforts of conservative Latino organizers and consultants. There are three possible explanations: ((1) Latino voters are inherently liberal, probably because of their economic status as a class, (2) Latino voters are not inherently liberal, but vote liberal because of the Republican position on immigration reform, and (3) the organizers and consultants are doing a poor job.

The third explanation implies that the organizers and consultants should be fired. The first explanation implies that fewer resources should be devoted to their efforts.

Thus, the second explanation prevails despite the lack of a correlation between Republican positions on immigration and Latino voting patterns.

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