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Republicans’ Hispanic problem — in 2 charts

at 07:55 AM ET, 05/24/2012

New data from an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll that show President Obama leading former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney by 34 points among Hispanics set off a new round of speculation about whether Republicans can win in November if they can’t narrow that margin.

And rightfully so. But focusing just on 2012 actually underestimates the depth of the political problem for Republicans when it comes to the Hispanic community.

In short: Republicans’ Hispanic problem didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be able to fix it overnight either. That means that regardless of what happens in 2012, Republicans need to find ways to begin growing their support among Hispanics, or they run the risk of struggling to build majority national coalitions in 2016, 2020 and beyond.

The following two charts illustrate Republicans’ long-term Hispanic problem. Let’s break each of them down.

The first chart details how the Hispanic vote has split between the two parties in the last 10 presidential contests. On average, the Democratic presidential nominee has received 64.1 percent of the Hispanic vote, while the Republican nominee has taken just 31.8 percent.

Take out the 2004 result — where President George W. Bush won 44 percent in an exit polling finding that is heavily disputed by many Latino groups — and the Democratic presidential nominee averaged 65.3 percent among Latinos, while the GOP standard-bearer won just 30.4 percent of their votes.

Here’s the full readout on how Hispanics have voted for president since 1972:

The second chart details the growth of the Hispanic vote as a proportion of the overall electorate. While it remains true that Hispanics are neither registered to vote nor turn out to vote in anything close to commensurate with their size in the overall U.S. population, Latinos’ percentage of the entire electorate has increased in each of the past four elections and is now more than four times as high as it was in 1992.

Here’s the chart detailing the rising percentage of Latinos as a portion of the overall electorate:

Combine the two charts and you see the trouble for the GOP. Not only has the party demonstrated little to no ability to win anything even close to a majority of Hispanic voters in any presidential election dating back almost 40 years, but Latinos are also comprising an ever-larger slice of the electorate — with a considerable jump between 1992 (2 percent) and 2008 (9 percent).

Given that reality, simply putting a Hispanic Republican — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, perhaps? — on the national ticket this fall shouldn’t be considered a panacea (or anything close to it) for all that ails Republicans when it comes to Hispanic voters.

But, if Republicans don’t start somewhere — and fast — they could be relegated to permanent minority status (or close to it) in 2016 and beyond. The short-term politics of the Hispanic vote are bad for Republicans. The long-term politics are downright disastrous.

Biden’s numbers drop: Vice President Biden is becoming less popular, according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll showed Biden’s favorable rating dropping to 42 percent and his unfavorable rating climbing to 45 percent. In the last poll, conducted in March 2011, Biden was still in positive territory, at 46 percent positive and 41 percent negative.

The numbers have to be slightly concerning for the Obama campaign, which has made a practice of dispatching Biden to more blue collar areas where the president has struggled (read: Southeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania). These numbers suggest Biden may not be much of an asset there.

DGA drops $1 million more into Wisconsin: The Democratic Governors Association is spending another $1 million with less than two weeks to go in the recall election of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).

The money is going to the third party group Greater Wisconsin, which is running ads in the Badger State on behalf of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D).

The DGA has now spent about $3 million in Wisconsin — about half the investment made by the Republican Governors Association. Such a disparity is not uncommon, with the RGA regularly outraising the DGA two-to-one.

The recall is set for June 5, and Walker looks to have the edge for now. But a Democratic-sponsored poll this week showed him up just 3 percent.

Fixbits:

Romney releases another ad on the “Day One” theme.

Obama’s campaign teases an attack on Romney’s “corporations are people” remark.

A new poll in Arizona from Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling shows Romney up 7 percent.

Obama marks Gay Pride Month with a web video featuring “Glee’s” Jane Lynch.

Former Romney adviser Richard Grenell says gay conservatives need to assert themselves.

A new poll in the Massachusetts Senate race shows Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) leading by 1 percent. It also finds that most people say the controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s (D) Native American heritage doesn’t affect their vote.

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida shows Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) is a big favorite in the primary and is virtually tied with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in the general election.

Ohio GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel is giving back $105,000 in donations from a company whose employee giving practices have sparked a federal investigation.

The scene of Senate candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg’s (R-Mont.) boating accident is being used on a boat safety poster.

Former senator George Allen’s (R-Va.) tea party primary opponent is up with a radio ad.

A new poll shows the primary between Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) is a tie ballgame.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has now spent $9.2 million of his own money on his Texas GOP Senate primary, while Ted Cruz has spent nearly half a million dolllars.

Another new poll of the race for Senate candidate Rep. Martin Heinrich’s (D-N.M.) seat shows the race is between state Sen. Eric Griego and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, with former Albuquerque mayor Marty Chavez slipping.

They were debating Social Security in an Arizona special election debate on Wednesday.

Must-reads:

Gingrich’s private ventures are going bankrupt” — Marcus Stern, Reuters

On gay marriage, Obama’s critics and supporters alike think he may shift again” — Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post

The Death of the Hunch” — Sasha Issenberg, Slate

Rob Portman said to be on short list for Romney vice president” — Michael Leahy, Washington Post

 
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