Man Without Qualities

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Trending Away: The Most Misunderstood "Minority"

Mickey Kaus has been especially good at pointing out the long running Democratic delusion that the growing Hispanic population of the United States will tilt its politics towards Democrats. [This post is just an example. Mickey's been calling the Democrats and their media sycophants out on this particular delusion with enough regularity to make a claim to "owning" the topic.]

Some obvious reality checks one can garner anecdotally from just walking and driving around Los Angeles, and talking to people with whom one does business and otherwise has contact:

Hispanics are heavily small business owners and home owners. They seem generally socially conservative. It is hard to detect a intense sense of alienation from the mainstream. Hispanics clearly don't vote as a bloc. Many obvioulsy view class and national distinctions as counting for much more than the media gives credit (Mexico is not Guatemala is not Salvador is not Chile is not Peru - is not Spain!) Indeed, even the concept of "Hispanic" seems increasingly preposterous.

But such Democratic analysts insist on seeing Hispanics as somehow analogous to African Americans. (And this even as the distinctions within that group become more apparent. "The Islands" as distinguished from "The South," for example.]

And Hispanic constituencies do not move in a vacuum. In California, for example, the spectacle that a too-long Democratic legislature has made of the budget seems to have changed a lot of minds - including a lot of minds west of La Brea here in Los Angeles. Those effects can be at least as strong as any long term population shift towards supposedly Democratic-leaning Hispanics, especially since Hispanics become statistically less Democratic-leaning the longer they are in this country.

Some new polling data provides some more objective support for the anecdotal impressions. For example:

Hispanics and Latinos have also been an important constituency for the Democrats in many parts of the country. But there has been a somewhat larger partisan shift away from the Democratic party among Hispanics than among the public at large.

During the late 1990s, Democrats outnumbered Republicans among Hispanics by a margin of more than two-to-one (41% to 19%). In the aftermath of 9/11, Democrats still lead, but by a smaller margin (36% to 22%). Republican gains have been greatest among Protestant Hispanics -­ especially those who consider themselves evangelical Christians.

With respect to California, there is this:

[T]he GOP has made some inroads, including a slight but statistically significant change in California. A 41% to 31% Democratic party identification advantage has narrowed to a mere 38% to 33% advantage since 9/11. This was based predominantly on surveys conducted before the gubernatorial recall process was underway.

Florida is another state in which Hispanics are an increasingly important constituency. Of course, many Florida Hispanics are Cuban Americans - a group that makes any concept of a "generic Hispanic voter" seem especially ridiculous. Democrats looking to Florida as a serious battleground state next year may want to consider this:

[I]n several key battleground states in other regions - notably Florida - Republicans have made gains. With its conservative Cuban-American population, the Sunshine State's Hispanic population is among the more politically diverse in the country, though Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 12 points during the late 1990s. Today, Republicans have a slight advantage over Democrats, 32% to 30%.

NEXT UP: Is anyone doing serious work on Asian Americans and other supposedly "solidly" Democratic groups and states? Like all those people of (often highly mixed) Japanese and Chinese descent in Hawaii - a state now sporting, I believe, it's first Jewish female Republican Governor?

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