Not All Hope Is Lost: Latinos & California Republicans

Bob Moore and Marty Wilson
Bob Moore is the President of Moore Information, Inc. Marty Wilson is a Partner with Wilson-Miller Communications, Inc.

The growth of the Latino vote in California should compel the
state’s Republican candidates to learn more about this growing demographic
whose share of the statewide vote has consistently grown.  In the case of the 2010 election, Latino
voters cast 1.7 million votes statewide, an increase of 300,000 votes from the
2008 presidential election. 

To better understand this growing constituency we completed a
survey of 400 likely California Latino voters this week to gain a clearer
picture of their attitudes on key issues and toward the Republican Party.  The survey was conducted by Moore
Information, Inc. with an assist by Marty Wilson and its purpose was to begin
the process of understanding both the challenges as well as the opportunities
for future Republican candidates in gaining a greater share of the Latino

First, let’s get to the challenges that face the Republican Party
and its candidates with California Latinos by looking at the data:

  • Latino voters are widely negative
    about the Republican Party (26 percent favorable/47 percent unfavorable/27
    percent no opinion) and widely positive about the Democrat Party (62/22/17).
  • The GOP is not going to win many
    Latino voters by stressing conservatism; only 22 percent suggest that
    Republicans should, "stick to core values and nominate true Conservatives."
  • While approximately a third of Latino voters say they will never
    vote for a Republican, a third also
    suggest they would consider GOP candidates if "Republicans move toward the
    center and nominate candidates who are less Conservative."

The most obvious issue to discuss first when
it comes to this important voter segment is immigration. And it should come as
no surprise that this issue is the Republican elephant in the living room:

  • The Arizona immigration law is
    widely unpopular; only 25 percent approve, while 71 percent disapprove of the
  • A pathway to citizenship for those who have entered the country
    illegally is the most important element of immigration reform for Latino voters.
    A pathway is favored by 67 percent and opposed by 23 percent.
    However, securing the border and stopping illegal immigration are higher
    priorities. A candidate who says, "secure the border first, stop illegal
    immigration, then find a way to address the status of people already here
    illegally" gets a favorable reaction from 73 percent.

Are things as bad as the Los Angeles Times pollster said after some similar findings, "I
don’t know how any Republican thinks they can win in California?" Is it
hopeless to think California Republicans can capture a larger share of the
Latino vote?

The simple answer to that is no, but there is
also work to be done to convince California Latinos that the Republican Party
and its candidates can effectively represent them. Contrary to the Times’ prophecy, we believe Republicans
can win again in California based on key issues:

  • More than seven-in-ten voters
    will consider a candidate who says, "secure the border first, stop illegal
    immigration, then find a way to address the status of people already here
    illegally" (73 percent favorable reaction).
  • More than six-in-ten Latino
    voters are likely to consider voting for a GOP candidate who would "ensure all
    children had a chance at a first rate education" (69 percent), who they agreed
    with on improving the economy and creating jobs (65 percent) and with whom they
    agree on protecting America from terrorists (63 percent).
  • Latino voters are more pro-life
    on abortion (45 percent say they are pro-choice, 45 percent pro-life) than
    voters are statewide (56 percent of voters
    statewide say they are pro-choice and 36 percent pro-life).
  • Philosophically, a third are self
    described "Conservatives," a third are Moderate and a quarter are Liberal.
    Their ideological makeup is significantly more Conservative than that of Democratic
  • Finally, Latino voters are more
    likely to be regular church attendees than the statewide voting population – 43
    percent of Latino voters attend church once a week or more often, compared to
    just 32 percent among the California electorate as a whole.

The 2010 election results for Republicans were, to be charitable,
disappointing.  We know from CNN exit
poll data that the two top Republicans on the ballot, Meg Whitman and Carly
Fiorina, received approximately 30 percent of the Latino votes cast – not
nearly enough to win.  Clearly,
Republican candidates must do better and must set their sights on earning at
least 40 percent of these votes, if they are to have a reasonable expectation
of gaining statewide office. Based on this very preliminary data we believe
over time, this is an achievable goal but it will take a sustained and focused
communications effort based on issues such as education and job creation.  Further, this work can’t wait until a few
weeks before the next election – the work must begin today.  

To read more about this survey, click here.


About the Authors

Bob Moore is the President of
Moore Information, Inc., a nationally recognized GOP
pollster. In California, Moore Information has polled in eight statewide US
Senate and Gubernatorial campaigns, eight statewide ballot measure campaigns,
20 campaigns for Congress and more than 100 campaigns for state senate and

Marty Wilson, a Partner with
Wilson-Miller Communications, Inc., has occupied center stage in California’s
political landscape for more than 35 years. Most recently he was the campaign
manager and lead strategist for Carly Fiorina’s campaign for the United States
Senate. His statewide campaign work also includes serving as a senior
strategist to former Governors Schwarzenegger and Wilson as well as work on
numerous statewide ballot measures.

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