Jonah Goldberg writes:
But going forward, the GOP needs to figure out a way to become more appealing to new constituencies, particularly younger voters and Latinos.
Boring white guys aren’t great for that project. But candidates like Ted Cruz are.
Mark Krikorian explains why this isn’t likely to work:
But I do think both make a mistake common to a lot of people on the right in imagining that Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio will appeal to a significant number of Hispanic voters who aren’t already Republicans. Don’t get me wrong — they’re great conservatives who will go far and, I hope, do our country a lot of good. But nearly two-thirds of “Hispanics” in the U.S. are of Mexican origin, another 9 percent Puerto Rican, and about 7 percent Central American — neither a white Cuban from Miami nor a white half-Cuban Southern Baptist from Texas is going to stand out to such voters as one of them.
Put another way, most Hispanics aren’t likely to identify with conservative Cuban Republicans, which makes the attempt to appeal to them on the basis of identity politics even less likely to succeed than usual. It is an attempt to practice identity politics without really understanding the identities involved. It’s pandering without going to the trouble of paying lip service to the issues that matter to most of these voters, which is just half-hearted pandering.
Goldberg is right when he says that no demographic voting bloc is monolithic, nor is the majority of that bloc bound to support the same policies indefinitely. This doesn’t mean that a majority of that bloc is likely to support the GOP unless they believe that the party represents and serves their interests. These voters may be persuadable, but that doesn’t mean that they are going to be persuaded by what the GOP has to offer. It’s possible that Cruz could communicate the Republican message more effectively to these voters than someone else could, but if the message itself is unappealing it doesn’t matter very much who delivers it.*
He is also right that immigration is not always the top issue for most Hispanic voters. I would point out that the people most likely to emphasize changing immigration policy as the best way to increase the Republican share of the Hispanic vote have always been Republican advocates for liberalizing immigration policy. These advocates have been trying to portray their preferred policy as politically advantageous, and their recommended approach has repeatedly failed. That doesn’t mean that the issues that sometimes trump immigration are necessarily winning ones for Republicans. In general, if there are other issues that take precedence they tend to be those where Republicans are traditionally weak (e.g., economic issues, health care, etc.).
As for younger voters, it is not enough for the GOP to nominate younger candidates if they are going to follow Rubio’s example and adopt a foreign policy that is still overwhelmingly opposed by younger voters. There are no guarantees that the gap among younger voters would close if the GOP weren’t so closely identified with disastrous foreign policy views, but it would be a start.
* Cruz is reportedly quite conservative on immigration, which is good news for conservatives, but it is not likely to satisfy the voters some are expecting him to win over.