Sacramento GOP political consultant Mike Madrid spoke about conservative and Republican outreach to the Latino community at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday. When it came to discussing the many groups which make up Latino voters, however, he played down the key differences between them — differences which can explain why Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz fail to connect with a large section of the Hispanic electorate.
Madrid emphasized that there are 677,431 registered Republicans who self-identify as Latino. This number is larger than the Republicans in New Hampshire (263,799), New Mexico (367,613), Nevada (488,608), and even Iowa (646,710). “Every 30 seconds, a Latino becomes eligible to vote in the United States,” he declared.
The GOP consultant emphasized that liberal policies in California have made life worse for Hispanics in that state. “California is the poorest state…and it’s expensive. But it’s also the wealthiest,” Madrid said. This economic inequality defines the Latino struggle in that state, and neither party is really addressing it.
He noted that most Latinos do not turn out to vote, for either party. The Democrats aren’t addressing their concerns, and the Republicans appear hostile. “Until the [Republican] party has an urban policy, we wo’t be able to reach out to black and Latino voters.” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan likely could not agree more.
But Madrid also made a few statements which show confusion about the huge section of Americans who identify as Latino. In particular, he played down the political division between different ethnic groups among Hispanics — divisions that matter to them, often personally.
I think it’s crap when Mexicans say they won’t vote for a Cuban.
High school student Tim Pierce, from Lake City, Fla., could not disagree more. He emphasized that “there’s a definitive divide there between those cultures.”
We have Cubans who are voting statistically Republican, and Mexicans and Puero Ricans who are voting statistically Democrat….The Cuban culture is very proud. They are very patriarchal, and that contrasts with Mexican and Puero Rican cultures.
You’ve heard Mexican people say they’d never vote for a Cuban. It’s very true. I have Puerto Rican friends who will never vote for a Cuban, because they’re so culturally different….A lot of white people don’t like Cubans. They’re very cliquey. Cubans really love other Cubans. They love to put their Cuban friends and comrades into positions of authority with them. A lot of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans say “we’re not voting for that Cuban guy because he’s just going to put all of his Cuban friends in.”
Pierce’s experience in Florida contrasts with Madrid’s experience in California, so a smart conservative can connect the dots. The Cuban population is largely based in Florida, while Mexicans are largely spread across the country. Madrid emphasized that “if you are thinking about different Latino groups — Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican — you are ahead of the curve” when it comes to Latino outreach. If so, that demonstrates how out-of-touch many conservatives are.
In order to make real connections with Hispanics, Republicans will have to understand the walls and bridges among these national groups. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio may be the first Latinos to win a state in the Republican primary, but they are still Cubans — and that matters.