Ira Mehlman

Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Charlie Rangel are all very concerned. They are all losing sleep about the potential demise of the Republican Party if an illegal alien amnesty bill is not approved by the House.

Republicans, of course, have good reason to be concerned about the party’s lack of appeal with Hispanic voters. About 70 percent of Hispanics vote Democratic. However, this is not a new phenomenon. Hispanics are traditionally a Democratic constituency. What has changed in recent years is the size of the Hispanic electorate, which has turned the gap between 70 percent and 30 percent into a chasm.

The Republicans’ failure to attract large numbers of Hispanic votes has little to do with the party’s stance on immigration, and everything to do with economics. Hispanics, as a group, are significantly poorer than the population generally. In 2009, median U.S. household income was $60,088 compared with just $39,730 for Hispanic households. Low-income voters – people who pay little, if anything, in federal taxes and who are more likely to depend on government programs and services – tend to vote for Democrats.

They also tend not to have amnesty for illegal aliens at the top of their political wish-lists. Exit polling, last November, found that the economy was the most pressing issue for 59 percent of Hispanic voters. A mere 6 percent of Hispanics said that immigration policy was a determining factor in deciding who to vote for.

Not surprisingly, folks like Schumer, Pelosi and Rangel are more than happy to have the Republicans chase after the 6 percent while ignoring the 59 percent. What is surprising is that many key Republicans – John McCain, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, and Karl Rove, to name a few – seem to think that pandering on immigration is the party’s path to political salvation.

Ira Mehlman

Ira Mehlman is the Media Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.