Can the GOP win without a single Latino vote?
The New York Times thinks so. What’s more, it implies that’s why the GOP doesn’t care about immigration reform.
Nate Cohn of the New York Times wrote an analysis of the upcoming elections, which appeared online Oct. 21. In it he says, “Republicans would probably hold the House — and still have a real chance to retake the Senate — if they lost every single Hispanic voter in the country” and therefore, he argues, they have been able to block immigration reform and contest the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Cohn premises this on the urban-rural/suburban divide that has long shaped U.S. electoral analysis: “(G)iven the Republicans’ current strength across rural areas and in conservative suburbs, the loss of every Hispanic voter would not be enough to cost them the 17 seats that would flip House control” in the upcoming elections.
If the picture Cohn paints reflects Republican thinking on immigration reform, it points to an outdated paradigm of the Latino population: Every big “minority” group, according to University of Minnesota demographer Will Craig, is now majority suburban.
Nor are the rural areas that were traditional Republican strongholds homogenous any longer — the rural South and Midwest have seen huge Latino increases in farming communities.
The days of the urban/suburban divide in terms of Latino population are over.
In mostly suburban Chester County (Pa.), Latinos are now the largest minority numerically, and the minority population as a whole — 18.9 percent in 2013 — has increased as the white, non-Latino population has declined. In mostly rural Lancaster County (Pa.), 53 percent of the population growth since the census of 2010, has been Latino.
The fastest growing counties nationwide by Latino population growth, according to a Pew study of 2013, are Stewart, Telfair and Paulding counties in Georgia; Beadle County in South Dakota; Adams County in Mississippi; Trempealau County in Wisconsin; Sevier County in Tennessee, Frederick County in Virginia; Macon County in North Carolina, and Luzerne County in Pennsylvania. Not a single true urban hub among them.
Moreover, Latinos aren’t the only demographic whose family, friends and colleagues are adversely impacted by current law, and they are hardly alone in holding politicians accountable for the immigration impasse. Asian Americans — like Latinos — have been an integral part of the reform effort and have a stake in changing the broken immigration system. More than half of the respondents of a 2013 study by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund said immigration reform would affect their own families.
Some 66,000 American Latinos — rural, suburban, urban — turn 18 every month, according to Voto Latino.
No matter the outcome of these elections, if the GOP really does believe they can win without a single Latino vote, they are just deferring their losses.