Received a link to this interesting study of Latino voting patterns in my mailbox the other day. Here are the highlights:
* The Latino vote for GOP Senate candidates was similar to prior years, at about one-third; gubernatorial candidates fared better, at close to one-half.
* But Latinos who voted in 2002 had higher income and education levels than the Latino electorate as a whole. Turnout of lower and middle income Latinos was much lower in 2002 than in 2000.
* Latino voters who identify themselves as "independents" are, in fact, likely to vote Democratic. The fact that many of these independents stayed home in 2002 helped Republicans.
* There is no "Latino" voting bloc, as such — after controlling for party identification, income, and education, there is no difference between Latino voting and the voting pattern of non-Hispanic whites in either the Senate or gubernatorial races of 2002. This is not true of African Americans, who are a distinctive voting bloc even after controlling for education, income, and party identification.
What about the Florida and Texas governorships? Didn’t Hispanic Democrats surge into Republican ranks in these two states? Not according to the FOX News polls. In Texas, almost no Latinos who had supported Gore in 2000 cast votes for GOP Senate candidate John Cronyn. And in the governors’ races, about 8 percent of Latinos who had supported Al Gore cast votes for Rick Perry and Jeb Bush — a respectable improvement, but no evidence of a surge. In Florida, Jeb Bush polled much worse among Latinos in 2002 (57 percent) than he had in his narrow loss to Lawton Chiles in 1994 (71 percent). If I learned first grade mathematics correctly, these figures are headed in the wrong direction — surprising given that 2002 found the President’s brother a well-entrenched incumbent whereas 1994 found him a relative neophyte. Moreover, the Latino Democrats who voted for Perry and Bush look very much like Republicans, and most of them voted Republican in the 2000 election — so there is meager evidence of Latino political movement between 2000 and 2002. The consultants who consider themselves so adept at manipulating voters’ allegiances are living in a dream world. The evidence strongly supports the conventional view of political science — that partisan commitments and policy preferences are highly stable, and campaign messages matter much less than political consultants would have gullible politicians believe (Green, Palmquist, and Schickler 2002).