For instance, contrary to much of what you've heard in the press, the Latino vote in the United States has been growing less Democratic over the last 30 years, according to Sean Trende, the senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics.com. Moreover, illegal immigration is nowhere near as important an issue for Latinos (as opposed to Latino activists) as the press makes it seem. In 2008, less than half (46 percent) of Latino voters who voted Democratic told exist pollsters that the issue was either "very" or "extremely" important to them. And nearly a third of Latinos who considered illegal immigration "very" or "extremely" important voted Republican.
Trende argues that most of the Democratic advantage among Latinos can be explained by income. Poor people tend to vote Democratic. There are a lot of poor Latinos in the U.S. Still, if you control for income, the Latino voter becomes less distinct from the average voter.
In short, Latinos lean decidedly Democratic, but they are decidedly persuadable as well. And young politicians like Cruz -- and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, also of Cuban descent -- have a better shot at persuading them.
White Republican politicians tend to be terrified of racial and ethnic activists and the journalists who empower them. This results in many GOP pols sounding condescending, pandering or dull when they try to reach out to minorities.
Young, energetic, whip-smart and philosophically coherent politicians like Cruz and Rubio can confidently appeal to Latinos without sounding condescending and without caving to liberal assumptions about how to win over Latinos. They're also harder to demonize.
I mean, just imagine if Romney had mused about the nation's dearth of Hispanic panhandlers.