Hispanic support for President Obama declined considerably during the past year. In December 2012, his approval rating with Hispanics stood at 75 percent. Now, it is down to 52 percent.
Proponents of amnesty-style immigration reform are have seized on this degree of buyers’ remorse as a reason for Republicans to support their agenda. They say the poll numbers show that Republicans can make inroads with Hispanic voters, but only if they get behind amnesty-style reform.
But why has Obama’s support among Hispanics fallen? Chris Cillizza cites (1) the president’s failure to enact immigration reform and (2) “poor implementation” of Obamacare. I believe that these are, in fact, the two main drivers.
It follows that if Republicans assist Obama in enacting immigration reform that Hispanics like, Obama’s popularity among Hispanics will increase. After all, one of the two main reasons for his declining popularity will no longer apply. Indeed, Obama and his Party will receive decades’ worth of credit for legalizing millions of Hispanics.
Will Republicans receive credit where it counts — in the voting booth for many years to come? Of course, not. How many Blacks ever gave such credit to Everett Dirksen and his Party for enabling landmark civil rights legislation to pass?
The other driver of Obama’s declining popularity among Hispanics is what Cillizza calls the poor implementation of Obamacare. Conservative Republicans should take no solace from this phenomenon.
Hispanics loved Obama when he significantly expanded Medicaid, offered subsidized health care to millions of others, and devised, in effect, a government takeover of the health insurance industry. It was only when Obamacare was exposed as doing a poor job of handing out free medical care, and not even legislating for nearly as much of it as many people expected, that Hispanic voters reacted badly.
Even so, Obama retains an approval rate among Hispanics of more than 50 percent. Any group that approves of Obama, even marginally, after all that he has happened is not fertile ground for conservatives.
This doesn’t mean that Republicans cannot make inroads with Hispanics. If they persuade this group that they can provide them with benefits like free health care more efficiently than Democrats, Republicans might well improve their share of the Hispanic vote. Everyone likes a bidding war for their approval.
Unfortunately, a conservative Republican Party stands no chance of winning such a bidding war, and thus little chance of making inroads with Hispanic voters, regardless of where it stands on immigration reform. Those who believe otherwise cannot legitimately point to the decline in Obama’s approval rate among Hispanics as good evidence in support of their belief.