Hispanics Could Deliver Congress To Democrats in 2014

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New analysis by Latino Decisions shows Hispanics in 44 battleground congressional districts held by Republicans are poised to make a difference next November. The study comes on the heels of a June 6th vote in which every house Republican voted to defund President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Democrats need to pick up 17 seats to have a different outcome in Congress, and this study reveals that the long talked about demographic shift is finally becoming imminent.

The study grouped the districts into “3 tiers” based on the likelihood that Hispanics could influence the outcome. The first tier includes Texas' 14th congressional district currently held by Randy Weber. In 2012, Obama lost the suburban Houston district to Mitt Romney 60/40 but Weber only beat his challenger by 8.9%, the Latino Voting Age population is 19.2%. A recent Gallup poll shows that 60% of Hispanics side with the Democrats' immigration policy. Republicans even ignore their own research when it conflicts with the prejudices of their primary voters. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs refused to reissue a 2006 state immigration study that found that deporting Texas' 1.4 million undocumented immigrants would have a $17.7 billion negative impact on the state's economy.

Some Republicans have acknowledged their electoral plight if the growing population of Hispanics view their party as hostile, yet for years Republicans have tried to woo Hispanics through the prism of conservative Christianity while adding barriers to immigration, voting, and access to healthcare. The tactic doesn't seem to be working as a poll in June by Latino Decisions found that only 8% of Hispanics have a “very favorable” view of Republicans, with 25% as “somewhat favorable”. Despite these numbers and Hispanics' overwhelming support for immigration reform, those in the rightwing “conservative” media continue to attack Republicans who lend any support for the idea.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, now running for Governor, loves to tout his wife's half-hispanic roots but spent the last several years suing the federal government for the right to implement the state's discriminatory redistricting maps, restrictive voting requirements and to deny citizens the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

To further illustrate the depth of Irony, a former Republican state representative who is also Hispanic was recently “treated like a drug dealer” on an otherwise routine traffic stop. The former Rep. was wearing his Greg Abbott for Governor t-shirt and was on his way to meet with Senator John Cornyn (to talk immigration?) when Immigration and Customs Enforcement began to question him before his car was impounded. During past legislative debates around sanctuary cities and voter ID Republican Hispanic representatives have claimed they have never received any discrimination when asked how such laws might affect those in the Hispanic community.

The former state rep. was asked about the “extremely disrespectful” treatment and told the Texas Tribune, “They assumed I was guilty, and they expected me to prove that I was innocent.” Unfortunately, that's how all too many Hispanics feel in Texas, and who can blame them when listening to the current national debate on immigration?

About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

3 Comments

  1. Sure Hope you are right
    I hope you are right about the 14th Congressional District.  

    But I doubt it.  I doubt you can count on demographic changes to trump lack of effective organization and campaign know how in the Democrat Party in this District.  It is still early, but I see no reason to doubt what I am saying.  

    Is anybody listening out there?  

  2. Can we stop with wishing for demographic miracles?
    First, younger Hispanics are more likely than elders or grand-elders to be evangelical Protestants. So, that part of the GOP appeal isn't all wet.

    Second, nationally, younger Hispanics are increasingly identifying as “independent” rather than D, or R. Don't count those unhatched chickens.

    That's just two of many reasons to put a bit of cold water on stuff like this. I have more here: http://socraticgadfly.blogspot

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