Economy worried Hispanic voters, not immigration

The growing Hispanic population has greatly influenced the last two elections in the U.S. Many wonder why Arizona, a bleeding red state, continues to lean conservative when it is drowning in a sea of democratic blue created by California, New Mexico and Colorado.

In order to understand why Hispanics vote the way they do, it’s important to understand what influences them and their vote.

Peter Beinhart of The Daily Beast notes that Hispanics and Hispanics are traditionally Republican voters, due to their tendencies to run small businesses and embrace their traditionally conservative culture. If this is the case, why aren’t they overwhelmingly voting Republican?

Despite what either party thinks,  Hispanics don’t make immigration reform the deciding factor when shopping for presidential candidates or party platforms. While immigration reform is important, the Hispanic population feels the same pain and struggle that white Americans do when it comes to the state of the U.S. economy.

As Bill O’Reilly so gracefully declared on election night, “The white establishment is now the minority. And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them, and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. People feel that they are entitled to things.”

This jaded and overgeneralized view of Hispanics in America couldn’t be much further from the truth, but it is accurate. The white Anglo-Saxon group of Americans that reigned as majority for so long is becoming a minority with the growing population of other races.

Beinhart retorts by saying, “Hispanics do feel that the economic system is ‘stacked against them’ and they do ‘want stuff’ like health care, college-tuition assistance and other government benefits that might help them get ahead.” Additionally, according to a Pew Research study, nearly 60 percent of Hispanics rate the economy as their top issue, which is almost exactly the same as the general public at large.

This is what set President Barack Obama apart from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in last week’s presidential election. While immigration reform was not a major debate point throughout campaigns, Romney stuck with his proposal that Hispanics in America should “deport themselves,” hurting his campaign at a time when he needed the Hispanic vote.

The Hispanic populations in those states did not focus on the need for immigration reform — they focused on progress. They supported Obama’s economic plan and believed in his vision for America.

As America grows and diversifies, the policies of a seemingly outdated Republican Party seem fit to govern as the new America moves forward. Over the next four years, the GOP has quite a bit of work to do if it wants to gain a larger percentage of the minority population in America.

 

Reach the columnist at caleb.varoga@asu.edu or follow him at @calebvaroga.

 

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