With the presidential election looming slightly more than a year away, a stark contrast exists between Democratic and Republican strategies to reach Latino voters, a difference that is clearly apparent in opinions held by the Hispanic electorate.
The most recent Impremedia/Latino Decisions poll shows that while President Obama’s popularity is on the rise thanks to his jobs proposal and the administration’s policy changes regarding deportations, Republican hopefuls seem to be virtually unknown by a large sector of the Latino electorate.
This doesn’t come as a surprise, given that Latinos do not play a significant role in the selection of the Republican presidential nominee. And, it is difficult to image that this is going to change any time soon given the current tone within the Republican debate.
Playing to the conservative base, now far more extreme with the Tea Party’s influence, candidates have promoted positions such as those on immigration, that are distant from, and even antagonistic to, the interests expressed by Latino voters in the opinion polls.
This extremism within the Republican Party’s internal debates will make it difficult for the eventual presidential nominee to re-invent him or herself in a manner that would attract independent let alone Latino voters in the general election.
At the same time, the overall outlook for President Obama is much more positive. Support from Latino voters is increasing according to the poll, an improvement in relation to prior polls, and it reflects the White House’s efforts on initiatives that are viewed positively by the Latino community.
At this moment, the 2012 presidential strategies of the two parties couldn’t be more different. Latinos don’t even exist in the Republican primaries except in terms of the threat of the undocumented whereas for the Democrats, Latinos are a key piece on the road to re-election.
This contrast will be a huge challenge for the next Republican presidential nominee to overcome. It is a difference that will not be easily erased.