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The Fantasy That Will Not Die

Josh Kraushaar repeats an odd claim I have seen a few times recently:

Pair Perry on the presidential ticket with an up-and-coming Hispanic running mate such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida or New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, and the Hispanic vote is squarely in play.

No, it isn’t. It’s true that Obama’s approval rating among Hispanics has declined considerably, but it doesn’t follow from that there is going to be a huge movement of Hispanic voters to the Republican column. Assuming for the moment that Rubio or Martinez would accept the offer, both of them were just elected last year. Other than their names, what is it about either of them would make them appealing to Hispanic voters? There is usually too much made of the importance of a politician’s position on immigration for winning over Hispanic voters, but that is because this ignores all the other reasons why Hispanic voters are more likely to support Democratic candidates. It’s not as if Republican opposition to mass immigration is the only thing preventing these voters from backing Republican presidential candidates.

Pro-immigration views are certainly no guarantee of Hispanic support, as McCain and his 31% show, and Martinez and even Rubio are correctly seen as being well to the right of most Hispanic voters nationally. More to the point, Perry has not been all that successful in winning support from Hispanics in Texas, so it doesn’t make sense why he would do any better in a presidential election. According to this report, exit polling from last year significantly overstated Perry’s support:

But Segura says that Perry’s performance with Latinos in Texas is overstated due to poor exit polling methodology. According to his research, Perry’s support among Latinos the 2010 election was closer to 23 percent.

“I think he actually under-performs with Hispanics in Texas,” he said. “There’s a huge skew in the exit poll data … The 38 percent for Perry is nonsense.”

Perry would not be particularly competitive with Obama among Hispanics, and it’s not clear why putting Rubio or Martinez on the ticket would change that. During the primary and general election campaigns, Martinez made a point of denouncing her opponents for supporting amnesty. Rubio has tended to be more of a “centrist” on immigration, but he is a party-line Republican in almost every other respect, which is why so many Republicans like him. Putting Rubio or Martinez on the presidential ticket would be another good example of the bad habit many Republicans have of wanting to promote their rising political leaders too quickly before they have had a chance to do very much.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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