The fact is Hispanics are conservative on cultural issues, entrepreneurial on economics, and intensely patriotic. ~Fred Barnes
Which is why New Mexico has been predominantly Republican at the state and local level for 75 years, right? Oh, wait, it’s been solidly Democratic for all that time. How could that be? It isn’t that New Mexican Hispanics are necessarily all that different from the description Barnes gives here (though it seems as if someone should point out what a grossly simplistic stereotype of an entire ethnicity this is), but that there is no necessary or obvious connection between these things and supporting the Republican Party. First of all, being “conservative on cultural issues” is determined to a very great extent on what your own cultural identity is, and if you take pride in a distinct culture aside from, or alongside, a generic Anglo-American one you might very well be a cultural conservative and have entirely different attitudes towards a party that theoretically represents a different cultural conservatism. “English only” and English as the official national language are usually thought of as culturally conservative positions of sorts, but they will not be greeted with much enthusiasm from many Hispanic voters.
Leaving that problem aside, the logical connection is still very shaky. Most Hispanics in this country are at least nominally Catholic, which would mean theoretically that they are “natural” supporters of the major (at least officially) pro-life, culturally conservative party, except that there is actually no necessary connection between being culturally conservative in private, family and community life and embracing a culturally conservative political agenda. You can argue all you like that such people should support such an agenda, but they may find it unsuitable or undesirable to do so. The GOP has been fighting to get a majority of the American Catholic vote for decades, and has enjoyed sporadic success–part of this is the result of GOP economic and social service policies that many Catholics find unappealing and undesirable, and part of this is the result of the diverse kinds of American Catholics out there.
I am frequently reminded at my local Orthodox church that adherence to a traditional, liturgical, hierarchical, socially conservative church by no means leads you to support the GOP (and not just because the GOP’s practical support for social conservatism and traditional morality is all but nil). At my church, you can usually spot the converts by their political conservatism and right-leaning party affiliations. It is actually normal that more liturgical and catholic confessions would include people of widely varying political views, so there is no guarantee that belonging to a church that officially professes moral or social doctrines that are more consistent with cultural conservatism means that you are going to support a political expression of that conservatism. The pro-immigration GOP view takes for granted that most immigrants are pious, hard-working family-centered people and that this makes them “natural” GOP voters. Even assuming the first is true in most cases, the second does not follow at all. There are three possible explanations for why it does not follow: either the voters do not see the GOP as being actually dedicated to protecting life, family, community and the like, or they are not basing their voting preferences on such things or they find any natural sympathy with a socially conservative agenda offset and overwhelmed by their negative reaction to economic, welfare or foreign policy positions held by the GOP.
Someone who is personally entrepreneurial may not be at all interested in supporting the party of the moneyed interest. He may be even very keen on the free market, which does not necessarily push him towards the party that glorifies state capitalism. Being entrepreneurial and aspirational does not mean that you will necessarily agree with, say, reducing tax rates on wealthier people. (Take a different kind of example to see this point: I expect few would call the folks in Silicon Valley lacking in entrepreneurship of a kind, but many of them are on the left politically.)
Finally, it is not at all obvious these days that “intense patriotism” would or should inspire someone to pull the lever for the party that led the way into Iraq. Barnes’ description could be completely accurate, and it still would not make these voters into “natural” supporters of the GOP. In the end, the reality is that they are not “natural” GOP voters because most do not, in fact, vote for the GOP. “Natural” constituents do not need to be bribed and cajoled to support a party, but will do so because they see this or that party already advancing their interests and “values.” Say whatever you like about irrational voters (and I could say quite a lot), a majority of actual Hispanic voters do not perceive their self-interest being served by having GOP pols in positions of authority. Of all the pathetic arguments for bad immigration policy, the argument that the GOP must pursue a pro-immigration line in order to win the votes of people who will never vote for the party is the worst and most unfounded.