The Corner

Politics & Policy

Senator Cornyn and Hispanic Voters

Matt Lewis argues that Republicans shouldn’t write off Hispanic voters:

During the debate, Ted Cruz seized on the suggestion that the Hillary Clinton campaign was applauding the GOP’s harsh rhetoric about immigrants. “The Democrats are laughing,” Cruz said, “because if Republicans join Democrats as the party of amnesty, we will lose.” The suggestion, I suppose, is that Hispanics inexorably vote Democratic—a premise Cruz’s very existence seems to contradict.

It’s also worth noting that, as recently as last year, the other U.S. Senator from Texas, John Cornyn, won the Hispanic vote in a very diverse state by launching an aggressive outreach program.

I’m not sure that Senator Cruz was saying what Lewis takes him to be saying. I suspect he just meant that if Republicans refuse to stand with anti-amnesty conservative voters, many of them will stay home. He has made similar arguments about depressing the conservative vote before.

Anyway, I hadn’t heard that datum about Cornyn. Taking a quick look at the exit polls, though, I’m not convinced that the outreach program explains Cornyn’s showing among Hispanics as much as the weakness of his opponent does. Cornyn took 48 percent of Hispanics to his opponent’s 47 percent. He won whites 74-22 percent. So he did 26 points better among whites than Hispanics. Greg Abbott did 28 points better among whites in the gubernatorial election held the same day. Rick Perry did 31 points better among whites than among Hispanics in the 2010 election for governor. John McCain did 28 points better among whites than among Hispanics in 2008. (We don’t have data on Romney and Cruz in 2012, unfortunately.) Cornyn’s Hispanic support lagged white white support by roughly the usual margin for Republicans.

I’m all for Hispanic outreach. But it looks to me as though the story of the election is that Cornyn’s overall support was very high, and nothing all that special happened with the Hispanic vote specifically.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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