Republicans are losing elections in part because they are losing key demographic groups. Some of those groups, like Hispanics, are growing, making them impossible to ignore. 37 percent of the country is nonwhite. Hispanics comprise 16 percent of the population, accounting for half the population growth within the past decade. 51 percent of children born in California are Hispanic, and 46 percent of the population in New Mexico is Hispanic.
Republicans have had difficulty making inroads with Hispanics due to their position on illegal immigration. The left and its other half, the liberal media, have convinced many Hispanics that tough immigration laws are racist. While this is not true, Republicans have had little success convincing Hispanics otherwise. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to make “enforce the border” key parts of their stump speeches.
The problem with this approach is it needlessly reinforces the false stereotype that Republicans are racist. Why repeat something if it's not necessary and costs votes? Many politicians are pro-life, but they don't say “we must stop abortion” in every speech. Illegal immigration is one of those difficult issues that would be better handled gingerly.
On the other hand, Republican politicians like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who call for a path to citizenship with liberal Democrats, are equally irking voters needlessly. McCain waffles all over the place on illegal immigration; there is no need for him to irritate the GOP base by claiming at times to support a path to citizenship. It didn't work anyways, he received a smaller than usual share of the Hispanic vote as a Republican when he ran for president.
Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick have figured the GOP's immigration problem out better than almost anyone. In their new book, Immigration Wars, they explain how to get at the root problems behind our immigration policy, instead of demanding a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants or focusing only on border security. Former president George W. Bush, who toned down the rhetoric on illegal immigration, won 43 percent of the Hispanic vote when he ran for reelection in 2004.
Immigration is why Cuban-Americans are the one Hispanic group that votes Republican; they perceive Republicans as less hostile. Unlike Hispanics from Mexico, Central and South America who illegally enter the U.S., Cubans who escape from communist Cuba and flee to America are offered political amnesty.
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