Among Hispanic Republicans, many are small-business owners who don't want to see their taxes rise. Others are naturalized citizens who've made it up the economic ladder by working two or three jobs. They aren't interested in big government. A far smaller proportion of Hispanics than other Americans work in the government sector -- fewer than 10 percent, compared with 15 percent of whites and more than 20 percent of blacks.
In several key battleground states, Hispanics make up more than 10 percent of eligible voters -- 13.5 percent in Nevada, 12.6 percent in Colorado, 38.4 percent in New Mexico and 14.5 percent in Florida. And in other states that are either reliably Democratic or reliably Republican, the percentage of Hispanic voters is growing rapidly, too. Some 25 percent of eligible voters in Texas are Latinos, as are 24 percent of California voters and 18 percent of those in Arizona.
But Democrats should take little solace in these numbers. Hispanics have been an afterthought for most Democratic politicians -- and certainly have been so for President Obama since he won the election. Hispanics may not flock to Republicans next year, but the problem for the Democrats is that Hispanics won't show up at all. And without Hispanics, neither President Obama nor congressional Democrats can hope to win. Ironically, Latinos may hold the key to the GOP's future electoral success even though the majority of them still don't vote Republican.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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