How the GOP Lost the Latino Vote: A Short History

A new FOX News poll throws into relief the effect anti-immigrant rhetoric has had on Latinos' views of the Republican Party and its presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. But this trend wasn't always inevitable, and not only because Latinos have recently been frustrated by Obama’s tough deportation policies or by his failure to fulfill his promise on immigration reform. In fact, it wasn't long ago that a prominent Republican politician recognized the importance of the Latino vote and tried to change the calculus of this traditionally Democratic constituent: George W. Bush.

FOX News Latino Poll 3/20/12, click to view full findingsWhile acknowledging that Hispanics had generally voted for Democrats, political elites within the GOP have long believed that Latinos, recent immigrants in particular, were socially conservative, and thus could be brought into the Republican Party provided that the party supported immigration reform and avoided the anti-immigrant rhetoric that had hurt the party so badly in California during the 1990s.