It’s Not Just The Shutdown: The Other Way The GOP Is Killing Itself

CREDIT: Ben Margot/ AP

Laurent Taillefer, Andrea Begay

CREDIT: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The Republican Party is busy alienating the entire country with their irresponsible shutdown of the government. But let’s not forget the extra-specially fine job the GOP has been doing this year alienating one group in particular: Hispanics. If they keep this up, the data suggests the whole country may end up looking like California.

New data from the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2013 Hispanic Values Survey makes clear just how thorough-going this alienation has been. As the survey report notes:

Shortly after George W. Bush won reelection in 2004….nearly half (47%) of Hispanics reported having a favorable view of the Republican Party. Roughly as many Hispanics (48%) said they had an unfavorable view of the GOP that year. Since 2004, negative views of the GOP have increased dramatically. In 2008, nearly 4-in-10 (39%) Hispanics reported having a favorable view of the GOP. Today, only about 1-in-4 (24%) Hispanics say they view the Republican Party favorably, while nearly two-thirds (65%) have an unfavorable view of the GOP….Views of the Democratic Party have been fairly stable during the same time period. In 2004, about 6-in-10 (61%) said they viewed the Democratic Party favorably, identical to the percentage of Hispanics who view the party favorably today.

In the survey, only 29% of Hispanics report that they feel closer to the Republican Party today than they did in recent years, while 63% of Hispanics say recent years have brought them closer to the Democratic Party. And in the upcoming Congressional election, Latinos favor Democrats over Republicans by 34 points (56-22).

Of course, immigration issues loom large in explaining the increasing alienation of Latinos from the GOP. In the survey, 67 percent say illegal immigrants should be dealt with by allowing “them a way to become citizens provided they mean certain requirements” and 80 percent say immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children should be allowed “to gain legal resident status if they join the military or go to college.” Hispanics are well aware that Republicans have torpedoed both of these policy changes.

But it’s not just immigration. In pretty much every other conceivable way, the priorities of today’s Republican party are ostentatiously opposed to those of most Latinos. Over three-quarters (77 percent) of Latinos say we should increase the tax rate on those earning over $250,000 a year. 73 percent support increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.00 an hour. 72 percent say the government should do more to reduce the gap between rich and poor. 72 percent also say our country’s economic system unfairly favors the wealthy. Finally, 58 percent think the best way to promote economic growth is to spend more on education and infrastructure and finance it through taxing the wealthy, compared to just 33 percent who think lowering taxes and cutting spending is the way to go.

Given the conjunction of the immigration issue and these other economic priorities, it’s difficult to see where the alienation of Hispanics from the Republican party stops. And if it doesn’t stop we do have a model for where this could lead politically: California. There was a time not so long ago when California was a reliably Republican state — Republicans carried it in six straight Presidential elections, 1968-1988. Now of course, California is the quintessential blue state. Republicans hardly bother to contest it.

In an interesting post on the Latino Decisions blog, Matt Barreto and Ricardo Rarmirez draw the connections between GOP alienation of Latinos in California (most famously through the anti-immigrant Prop 187 championed by GOP governor Pete Wilson) and the realignment of the state toward the Democrats. In the two charts below, they show the how closely the surge of Latino support for Democrats, as well as the growing share of the Latino vote, has tracked the rise in statewide support for the Democrats.

california and hisp
ca hisp 2

As Barreto and Ramirez sum it up:

What California Republicans did in 1994-1998 effectively doomed their chances in any future state elections. Today other states such as Arizona, Texas, or even Virginia and North Carolina face their own immigration politics and a fast growing Latino electorate. Already the lessons of California appear to be well lived in neighboring Nevada where Sharron Angle’s anti-immigrant bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010 resulted in a similar outcome to California’s. The question is whether or not the Republican Party in other critical states, or nationally, wants to remain politically viable.

That is indeed the question. They have shown little interest in a course correction so far—and now they’re busy shutting down the government — but perhaps the threat of “California-ization” will bring them to their senses.