Given the rocky start that one presidential hopeful in Texas had yesterday, making a dud of a tequila joke before a room full of Latinos, the timing for an insider's guide to the Latino vote couldn't be better.
The Hill's Congress Blog published the guide today, written by National Council of La Raza president Janet Murguía. And while it doesn't go so far as to advise against tasteless jokes, it covers the basics: Take Latino voters and their concerns seriously, especially immigration; engage them and don't take them for granted; don't demonize them, because they'll vote against you. An excerpt:
Don’t write off the Latino vote. Candidates who believe that Hispanics are part of any party’s base are under a grave misapprehension. While it is true that most Hispanics are registered Democrats, history also shows that most are frequent ticket-splitters. Both President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush received more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in their reelection campaigns.
Some analysts note that a Republican needs to receive 40 percent of the Latino vote to win the presidency. In fact, for many candidates in 2010, failing to engage the Latino voter cost them the election. So those who appeal to Latino voters early stand a better chance of ending strong.
While accounting for only 6.9 percent of all voters, Latinos made up a larger share of the electorate last year than in any previous midterm election. Recent polls have ranked immigration as a top policy issue among these voters.