On Tuesday, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that fully half of Hispanics do not believe that it makes a difference who wins the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections. And those who care, the poll showed, heavily favored Republicans – twice as many Hispanics, in fact, thought it would be a positive if Republicans took over the Senate (30 percent) as if Democrats took over the Senate (15 percent). That’s because Hispanics think the economy stinks – 76 percent said they were negative about the economy. Overall, according to the poll, Hispanics favor Democrats over Republicans by a 44 percent to 27 percent margin.
Naturally, the Republican Party will take exactly the wrong message from this poll. Speaker of the House John Boehner said in September that immigration reform would be high on the list of priorities after the election. Party insiders are saying the same thing. The notion: if Republicans can show Hispanics that they care about immigration reform by passing a comprehensive bill, Obama will either sign it or he won’t; if he signs it, Republicans will be given the credit, and if he doesn’t, he will look as though he doesn’t care about Hispanics.
Boehner and company intuit that if Republicans can win a plurality of the Hispanic vote in 2014, and they then foist amnesty on the American people, they’ll be set to truly grab a large share of the Hispanic vote come 2016. This is also the logic of those pushing for a Jeb Bush presidential run – they posit that Jeb’s Hispanic wife and generally pro-amnesty position will make inroads in the Hispanic vote.
But that’s nonsense. Should Republicans push a comprehensive immigration reform bill after the 2014 elections, Obama will either sign it or he won’t; if he signs it, he will be given the credit for brokering a deal with intransigent Republicans thanks to the media, and if he doesn’t, Republicans will be blamed for not caving enough on immigration.
Here is the real takeaway message from the poll: conservative Hispanics, the Hispanics most likely to show up in midterms – we’ll call them Midterm Hispanics, for shorthand — do not believe in amnesty. The Hispanics most likely to show up in a presidential election – Presidential Hispanics — tend Democrat overall, not just for amnesty reasons. Hispanic Americans, in other words, vote just like other Americans do, although their percentages are skewed more Democrat overall.
Should Republicans misinterpret the polls here, they will end up legalizing a huge number of Hispanic immigrants who are Presidential Hispanics, not Midterm Hispanics. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, overall, six out of ten new immigrant households with children are on a welfare program, as opposed to 37 percent of native-born Americans. According to a 2012 Pew Hispanic poll, new Hispanic immigrants favor bigger government with more services by a whopping 81 percent to 12 percent margin. A full 51 percent of all Hispanics identify themselves by country of origin. 58 percent of foreign-born Hispanic immigrants say they are “very different from a typical American.” Overall, Hispanics say they are slightly more likely than other Americans to identify as liberal, whether foreign or native-born.
Which means that the best electoral strategy for Republicans would not be to move toward legalization of millions more Hispanics who are not conservative, but to identify those Hispanics who are either conservative or open to conservatism. In other words, start thinking like Republicans – treating Hispanics as individuals rather than members of a homogenous group – rather than Democrats. The immigration issue is obviously important to many Hispanics, just as it is important to many Americans. But winning vast swaths of Hispanic voters to conservatism isn’t simply an amnesty proposal away.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.