(WASHINGTON) — It’s become clear to Republicans that the party is falling flat with the Latino community. What’s still murky is how to reverse that trend.
A right-leaning Latino advocacy group has teamed up with conservative pollsters to figure out where to turn next.
The Hispanic Leadership Network and Resurgent Republic are focusing their efforts on surveying Hispanic voters who cast ballots in Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Thus far, they say the results indicate that Latino voters don’t think Republicans respect the Hispanic community, and that the perception that Latinos naturally align with the Republican Party is misguided.
The Republican “brand needs substantial resuscitation” among Latino voters, former Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) said Wednesday during a news conference.
This shouldn’t be news to Republicans, despite the gains President George W. Bush made during his 2000 and 2004 campaigns.
“We need to recognize that Hispanics have been voting for Democrats for years,” added conservative political consultant Whit Ayres, who analyzed the survey results.
He pointed out that, discounting the 1992 and 1996 elections that were three-way races including Ross Perot, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney performed worse among Hispanic voters than any Republican candidate since 1976, following the Watergate scandal.
The Hispanics surveyed side with Democrats on issues across the board, from abortion to the economy. In all four states, more think the government should do more rather than less. More also support gay marriage or civil unions than not, and more are pro-choice than pro-life in all but New Mexico.
Democrats won even in terms of which party Latinos think is better equipped to help small businesses grow.
“Now come on,” Ayres said. “We are the party of small businesses right? But we haven’t quite made that sale in the Hispanic community.”
George W. Bush garnered about 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, while Republican candidate John McCain pulled in only 31 percent in 2008. Romney’s share of the Latino vote dropped to 27 percent this year.
The survey showed plainly that not only did the Obama camp do a better job of reaching out to Latino voters, it also struck a better tone.
Ayres and Coleman agree that the Republican Party does not have to change tack on a slew of issues to gain Latino support.
According to Coleman, for the Republican Party, “it’s the larger question of empathy.”
The survey results came the same week as census data that estimated whites will no longer make up a majority of Americans by the year 2043.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN