Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus gavels the Republican National Convention open in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus gavels the Republican National Convention open in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Opinion: GOP prays for a Latino Catholic miracle

The GOP is praying the Republican National Convention will sway Catholic voters, and among those Latino Catholics.  But their prayers might be in vain.
The recent announcement by the organizers of the 2012 GOP convention that Cardinal Tim Dollan, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will deliver the closing prayer is proof that the GOP is intended on capitalizing on the powerful Catholic vote, and by extension lure Latinos into supporting Romney.  Yet, one wonders, if this move will pay dividends.
At face value, one could assume the GOP is in fact scoring big points with every religious voter; however, a recent poll conducted by Telemundo, NBC and the Wall Street Journal shows that Latinos prefer the president over Romney at a rate of 63 percent v. 28 percent.  In addition, a May 2012 poll also conducted by the same companies added a special ingredient to this puzzle: 58 percent  of those consulted said that Obama‘s “evolution” towards marriage equality did not alter their support for the president.
The Romney campaign should take note of this as it has been said, too, that the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate was due in part to his Catholic faith and to counterbalance Romney’s Mormon faith, which still causes discomfort among some voters.  In addition, for Romney, Ryan’s legislative record is not exactly a gift that will help deliver many Latino votes, as he has been vehemently opposed to any immigration reform and has voted against the DREAM Act.
A poll conducted by Latino Decisions in June 2012 further seems to validate this point, and shows Latinos are much more concerned with issues other than the religious content of the party’s platform and the spiritual belief of a candidate.  In this survey of 2,000 Latinos residing in five battleground states (AZ, CO, FL, NV, VA) respondents rated immigration, the economy and the job market as their top three concerns, followed at a distance by healthcare and education policy; religion and issues cherished by social conservatives seem to be largely absent when weighing in the merits of a candidate.
It is starting to be quite obvious that the Romney campaign may have already forgone Latinos as a winnable voting bloc as this community is focused more on immigration and economic matters, two areas in which, despite Obama’s challenges and mixed record, Republicans in general, and Mitt Romney in particular, have failed to make a connection.
Maybe it’s the party’s history and track record with Latinos; may be, too, it’s those words said during the primaries by all candidates running for the nomination, including Romney, that today are coming back to haunt them.
Whatever the causes of this distance between the GOP and Latinos are, there is a lesson to be learned, not just for the GOP but for all candidates seeking elective office: words matter and they become reality.  May be GOP has some more praying to do.

Opinion: GOP prays for a Latino Catholic miracle  hernan molina 2012 headshot politics NBC Latino News

Hernan Molina is a political analyst based in Southern California. He appears regularly in MundoFox 22 Los Angeles as guest political analyst and commentator, and other television and radio shows in So Cal and National television networks. He has written extensively about politics and health-related policy matters. He is the former host of Time Warner Cable’s Local Edition under the CNN Headline News channel. More recently, Mr. Molina has hosted LA COMMUNITY, a weekly community affairs TV show in Los Angeles, which focused on current affairs impacting the Latino community of LA.

Follow Molina on Twitter @Hernan_Molina  or visit his blog @: http://clavesdelapolitica.blogspot.com/

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