Here is a fact worth knowing and remembering: 50,000 Hispanics will reach the age of 18 every month for the next 20 years.
All demographics point to Hispanics comprising a larger share of the electorate in every future election cycle and they are voting overwhelmingly Democrat.
With this fact in mind, yesterday, in a piece about the bellwether Virginia gubernatorial race, I posed a question about whether Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe would win a larger percentage of Virginia’s Hispanic vote than President Obama did in 2012.
Here the question in its full context:
Hispanic growth is McAuliffe’s advantage. Virginia’s Hispanic population is 630,000, having increased by 92% since 2000. Of that number, 214,000 are registered to vote, and two-thirds identify as Democrats.
The McAuliffe campaign has worked nonstop to engage and mobilize this important voting bloc. Therefore, expect “Latinos con Terry” to help push McAuliffe, who has recently become a champion of immigration reform, across the finish line. In contrast, Cuccinelli has been a vocal opponent of immigration reform.
National lesson. In 2012, President Obama won 64% of Virginia’s Hispanic vote, compared with 71% nationally. Will McAuliffe top him? If so, it would be a clear signal that the growing Hispanic vote is becoming a lost GOP voter bloc similar to African-Americans. The GOP will cease to be a national party if Hispanics become loyal Democrats by margins as wide as 60% or 70%.
Now today, according to Virginia exit poll data, we learn that Terry McAuliffe did in fact top President Obama’s 2012 Hispanic vote percentage by two points. McAuliffe won 66% compared to Obama’s 64%.
Additionally, 58% of Virginia’s Hispanic voters told exit pollsters that immigration was either “most important or one of their most important” voting issues, while 25% said immigration was “somewhat important.” This adds up to a whopping 83% of Virginia’s Hispanic voters who hold this issue dear.
So what are the takeaways here?
Unless the Republican Party can find ways to properly address immigration issues, GOP candidates at every level will find that winning elections in swing states and districts is about to become more challenging as Hispanic voters are increasingly mobilized as they were in Virginia. (Even in an off-year election.)
Furthermore, as noted above, the Republican Party will eventually fade as a national party if Hispanic voters continue to vote in 60% to 70% blocks.
Virginia, along with Florida and Ohio, has become an important swing state and there are many lessons to be learned from the McAuliffe/Cuccinelli race. Chief among those lessons was how McAuliffe was able to top Obama’s Hispanic vote percentage, while Ken Cuccinelli, with his anti-immigration stance won only 29% of this demographic.
Sadly, Cuccinelli performed even worse among Hispanics than Mitt Romney’s 33% in 2012 and John McCain’s 34% in 2008.
It is known among political consultants that a Republican presidential candidate must win at least 40% of the national Hispanic vote in order to win the White House. President George W. Bush won 44% in 2004 but it has been downhill ever since.
To put a new twist on an old movie line, “Washington, we have a problem.”