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GOP Ignored Latino Vote

TimesLedger Newspapers

The re-election of President Barack Obama should serve as a wake-up call for the Republican Party, but it won’t.

Obama was vulnerable in a number of areas, like the national debt and high unemployment, but he defeated Mitt Romney.

That happened because the GOP failed to make inroads among Latino voters. According to exit polls, Romney won only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, down from John McCain’s 31 percent in 2008 and George W. Bush’s 44 percent in 2004.

Romney made almost no effort to appeal to Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing minority in Queens and the nation. Hispanic lawmakers in the borough said he lost the vote among their constituents because of his hard-line stance on immigration, which would have compelled undocumented workers to leave the country in a process Romney called “self-deportation.”

The GOP claimed to be the champion of small business, but according to census data the number of Hispanic-owned small businesses in the nation rose from 1.6 million in 2002 to 2.3 million in 2007, an increase of 43.7 percent. They are a force to be reckoned with, not ignored.

In a miscalculation, Romney’s campaign criticized Obama’s immigration policy, an issue of great importance to nearly all Latinos, without offering a compassionate alternative. In its effort to appeal to the white, upper-middle-class and Tea Party conservatives, his campaign appeared not to care that it was writing off the Latino vote.

In one of his debates with the president, Romney said America’s immigration policy should focus on attracting doctors and engineers. But Obama has been working on programs to make it easier for immigrants who entered this country illegally to become a part of society with on-the-books jobs, a college education and a path to citizenship.

Unlike Tea Party conservatives, Latino voters are not opposed to a big government with the capacity to provide educational aid, health care and other needs.

There are areas of the Republican platform that would appeal to Hispanics, like religion and family, but the language over illegal immigration alienated Latino voters.

The GOP must do damage assessment or resign itself to be a political minority.

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