Latino immigrants are neither Democrats nor Republicans, analysis says
Brian Latimer and Jacquellena Carrero
(07/12/2013) - Rep. Steve King may have recently claimed that two-thirds of new citizens would vote Democrat, but a new analysis says this is not the case.
The analysis by Latino Decisions showed that three-quarters of eligible Latino citizens do not side with either party. Using raw, empirical data from the 2006 National Latino Survey, researchers found that 72 percent of undocumented Latino immigrants are largely non-partisan.
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“We pulled up data and isolated more that 5,000 Latinos in the immigrant population that were Legal Permanent Residents or on the way to citizenship,” says Adrian Pantoja, a Senior Analyst with Latino Decisions and professor of Politics at Pitzer College in California. “Within this data, we found that 71 percent of the population just haven’t picked a party.”
According to Pantoja, the strongest predictor of party affiliation for any voter is through the socialization effect of their parents. Unlike second and third generation citizens, immigrants are clean slates who have yet to form political opinions.
“While parental socialization may be absent, political socialization forces are pervasive once immigrants settle in the United States,” Pantoja writes in his analysis.
The new analysis was released as the immigration debate in Washington comes to a head. Republicans have struggled with their appeal to Latino voters. President Obama received a whopping 70 percent of the Latino vote in the 2012 presidential election. A recent report by the College Republican National Committee found that Republicans had failed young Latino voters, who think the party “couldn’t care less about them.” .
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“We constantly heard rhetoric surrounding the idea that one of the major reasons why House Republicans are reluctant to pass comprehensive immigration reform is out of disbelief that once they do so, Republicans will have a much more difficult time winning elections,” Pantoja says. “There are rumors that all LPRs and undocumented Latinos, if they become full citizens, will all swing left, but that is simply not true.”
Pantoja says an anti-immigrant message, or the perception of it, also turns off white, non-Hispanic voters. He and his colleagues took data specific to California and found that white voters are also a major reason why the state turned blue. The message and inactivity of the conservative Republicans hurts potential recruits among non-Hispanic whites.
Comprehensive immigration reform currently faces an uphill battle in the House, where the Senate-passed bill has not been received warmly. House Republicans favor a piecemeal approach unlike the sweeping comprehensive legislation from the Senate. Conservatives also oppose the pathway to citizenship and are calling for increased border security first.
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“People want to see the old, inclusive Republican Party,” he says. “It is in their best interest to pass comprehensive immigration reform because the longer they delay it, the longer immigrants stay in this precarious situation.”