Mitt Romney’s strategy to convince Latinos that “it’s the economy stupid” has failed, and with that, his bid for the Presidency will likely fail, too.
Latino Decisions released the latest data from their tracking poll yesterday, confirming the continued problem within the Republican Party to convince Latinos that GOP policies can help them towards a path of economic prosperity. After weeks of intensive campaigning, the percentage of Latinos who trust Romney and the GOP with the future of the economy has sunk from thirty percent to eighteen percent, while the number who trust the President has risen from fifty-nine percent to seventy-three percent.
Likewise, Romney’s effectiveness in convincing the rest of the country has been equally anemic, hardly moving the needle at all against the President. Indeed, much of Romney’s gains on this issue has been attributable to those most likely to buy into his “white voter” appeal, less educated white males. Gee, I wonder how you do that trick?
By almost any metric, the GOP has failed to reach out to Latinos despite some policies that could resonate among Latinos, such as in education, small business, and homeownership. While collective bargaining is the focus of the Democrats, school choice is a priority for many Latino parents. Regulations are often created at the expense of fostering the creation and growth of small businesses that many Latinos look to for the American Dream, yet the Republican message is of e-verify, strict labor restrictions, and trade protections that minimize competition. While banks were bailed out, relatively little was done to bail out homeowners who fell victim to predatory lending practices, a major source of wealth depletion among Latinos over the last four years, yet the message from the GOP is largely silent on this.
Instead, the GOP’s focus as it pertains to Latinos is in using them to mobilize white voters. Vague half-hearted attempts to reach out to Latinos is less outreach and more dog and pony show to give the more impressionable voters the image that Romney’s policies aren’t overtly hostile. The constant mantra about our “food stamp president” is an appeal to those same impressionable working class people who are struggling to make ends meet, yet are convinced that the country’s social safety net is more safety hammock for lazy black folks or poor criminal immigrants.
That’s the message. That’s the strategy, and its no wonder it has fallen on deaf ears among Latinos, yet has improved Romney’s standing among uneducated white males. This is where the GOP is convinced that the Democrats are a threat and this is why its so important to them that they win.
The other week, a Republican lawmaker who is “pro-life” was taped trying to convince his mistress to have an abortion. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a doctor, was elected in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave of candidates. This was reported by the media largely as yet another example of Republican moral hypocrisy, but the truth is the GOP lawmaker was being perfectly consistent with his own ideology if you forget that the abortion issue is actually about unborn babies, but about power. Its uncanny to see so many white males disproportionately on the anti-choice side, but if you look at the abortion issue as a power issue, then it makes perfect sense.
To the Republican lawmaker who pressured his mistress to have an abortion cared not about the unborn, but about his own power to define life. Punishing women with obstacles to safe procedures is about maintaining control.
This is the nature of politics, and Latinos understand that the GOP message is less about liberty and more about control. Liberty for me, but not for thee. No thanks.
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.