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GOP may have a chance to reach Hispanic voters in 2012

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

A recent article in Politico takes note of the positive impact that Hispanic voters had in offsetting the Democratic Party's already devastating losses on Tuesday. Despite little progress in the former Democratic majority's efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform within the past two years, Hispanics still showed up at the polls to safeguard such strongholds like the Senate and to keep California within the party's jurisdiction on all levels.

Will the Hispanic vote, however, continue to be as monolithic as it has been in the past or are there indications that seem to say otherwise?

Politico observes that 2012 certainly brings with it the possibility that Hispanics won't be that loyal bloc that Democrats are hoping for in propelling President Obama to a second term in office. While the cries of passionate Hispanics have threatened in the past to make Democrats pay at the ballot box for not listening to their immigration concerns, many have shown no real intent of abandoning the party at election time.

At the same time, there is a hint of possibility that the immigration issue will give rise to an independent mindset among Hispanics, breaking the confines of enthusiasm toward Democrats to bring about change. While Democrats have been able to introduce a slew of immigration measures like the DREAM Act and the Reuniting Families Act, the party has been unable to muster the necessary support.  Most notably, President Obama hasn't really taken the lead on aggressively pushing for legislation.

The GOP has demonstrated that they are not the anti-Latino party that some on the left accuse them of being. GOP Latino candidates won key offices on Tuesday, most notably Susana Martinez as Governor of New Mexico, Brian Sandoval as Nevada's first Latino Governor and Marco Rubio as the next Senator from Florida.  Their position on Arizona's immigration law seems to determine where each of these candidates polls with their fellow Hispanics.

Along with their recent victories, the key messages on immigration projected by these candidates may be key in winning over Hispanic voters to the Republican Party in the future.  Gov. Martinez, for example, has no intention of enforcing an Arizona-like immigration law in her state.  Gov. Sandoval has polled well with Hispanics so long as he's been careful on how he portrays his stance on Arizona's immigration law.  While Sen. Rubio has emphasized that America needs to enforce its immigration laws, the message he projected in one of his most compelling campaign ads is that America is the land of opportunity for those who wish to live the American dream.

Don't surprised if these and others play a role in transforming the Hispanic landscape for 2012. Out of the three Hispanic candidates who won on the GOP side, Rubio has run the most effective campaign. His positive message of getting immigrants to realize their potential for success in America should be a message that the GOP should take to heart if they want to have any chance with Hispanics in the future. 

Message is key.

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