See if you can follow this logic: If Latinos don’t vote for Republicans, it’s because Republicans are doing something wrong. But if Latinos don’t vote for Democrats, it’s because there is something wrong with … Latinos.
That assessment seems overly generous to Democrats, doesn’t it? I mean, when do they get to be wrong? Unless, perhaps, you think Democrats can do no wrong?
That seemed to be the message behind a recent installment of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. I was invited on the show to discuss, with guest host Chuck Todd, the surge in the U.S. Latino population and what it could mean for Election 2012. Also invited to participate was Associated Press reporter Liz Sidoti.
Anyone who watches NBC News knows that Todd, the network’s chief White House correspondent, is a pro who knows his material. Best of all, he’s smart enough not to go out on a limb and venture an opinion on a subject matter with which he’s not familiar. Sidoti, come to find out, not so much.
First let’s look at the numbers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are now 50.5 million Latinos in the United States. They account for 16.3 percent of the population. The Latino population grew 43 percent from 2000-2010, and it accounts for more than half of the growth of the entire U.S. population in that decade. There are eight states that are home to a million or more Latinos: California, Texas, New York, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, and New Jersey. California, the nation’s most populous state, is home to 14 million Latinos. But the largest increases in Latino population are actually found in states that are not typically considered heavily Latino, such as Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, and North Carolina.
And the country will only become more Latino as time goes on to the point where, demographers predict, Latinos will account for as much as 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2050.
Todd, Sidoti, and I were all in agreement that this Latino tidal wave spells bad news for Republicans in 2012 and beyond. The GOP’s anti-Latino immigration screed has proven to be, for much of this population, a better repellent than bug spray.