Ever since Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney lost the Latino vote by 44 percent to President Barack Obama last year, the Republican Party has launched new efforts to reach out to Latino voters.

The GOP’s latest effort came on Monday when the Republican National Committee announced it hired Hispanic state and field directors in seven states: California, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

The new staff members will be in charge of developing a grassroots infrastructure and coming up with ways to engage with Latino voters at community events in these seven states. At the same time, they will be in charge of strengthening the GOP’s ties with Hispanic Republicans.

Additionally, the RNC plans to work alongside state parties to ensure there’s “a year-round presence in Latino neighborhoods” in an attempt to improve the Republican Party’s Latino outreach efforts. The RNC also plans to make similar investments in 11 other states by the end of the year.

“We are building a ground game that will allow us to compete for every voter and will outlast any one cycle or campaign,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “I’m certain with these early and unprecedented investments we can achieve Republican victories up and down the ballot now and for years to come.”

A few Latinos identify with the Republican Party

The new Latino outreach efforts come at a time when the Republican Party is struggling to attract Latino voters, which make up 10 percent of all voters nationwide.

A poll released in September by the Public Religion Research Institute reveals that Latinos are three times more likely to side with the Democratic Party than with the Republican Party.

The poll shows 50 percent of Latinos identify with the Democratic Party, compared to 15 percent who identify with the Republican Party. And 24 percent of Latinos say they are independents.

The Republican Party isn’t looking too good either when it comes to party perception among Latino voters. The poll shows 43 percent of Latinos say the phrase “cares about people like you” better describes the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, 12 percent say the phrase better describes the Republican Party.

But the GOP hasn’t always struggled to appeal to Latino voters. In 2004, then-President George W. Bush won re-election with 44 percent of the Latino vote. Since then, Republican presidential candidates have seen a decline in the level of support they receive from Latino voters.

In the last presidential election, Romney picked up 27 percent of the Latino vote while Obama won 71 percent, according to an analysis of exit polls by the Pew Hispanic Center. Political analysts say Romney’s stance on immigration and idea of “self-deportation” are among the factors that alienated many Latino voters.

Republican Party: Latino outreach is key

In March, the RNC released a 97-page report analyzing what led Latino voters to overwhelmingly side with Democrats rather than with Republicans during the 2012 presidential election.

It found that many Latinos used phrases such as “scary,” narrow minded” and “out of touch” to describe Republicans. Some also described the GOP as a “stuffy old man.”

The report also listed steps Republicans can take to make inroads with Latinos, the nation’s fastest-growing demographic that’s slated to make up 29 percent of the United States’ population by 2050. One of those steps is spending “substantial time” in Latino communities in order to demonstrate that Republicans do care about Latino voters.

“If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence,” the RNC stated in the report. “It doesn’t matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”

In an open letter published last month on the National Review, Priebus reiterated the need for Republicans to reach out to Latino voters.

“If you’re not engaging with the Hispanic community, you better get to work,” he wrote in the letter, adding that Latinos “deserve candidates and a party that will fight for their vote.”

Originally published on VOXXI as Republican Party ramps up Latino outreach efforts

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • "Self-Deportation"

    "Immigrant: Deport thyself." Not exactly the kind of message you want to send when you're courting Latino voters. Unsurprisingly, Romney backed away from the phrase shortly after taking it for a test spin in the GOP primary, but it reappeared during the presidential debates. Romney won just 27 percent of the Latino vote, the lowest figure since Bob Dole's campaign in 1996.

  • East Haven Mayor 'Might Have Tacos' To Reach Out To Latino Community

    Mayor of the Connecticut town of East Haven, Joseph Maturo Jr. <a href="http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/let_them_eat_tacos_mayors_regrettable_response_to_police_abuse_of_latinos.phphttp://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/let_them_eat_tacos_mayors_regrettable_response_to_police_abuse_of_latinos.php">said he "might have tacos"</a> when asked what he'd do for the Latino community after four police officers were arrested on charges of racial profiling. The majority of the Latino community in the town of <a href="http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/taco_mayor_on_new_appointee_is_he_not_dark_enough_for_you.php">New Haven is Ecuadoran</a>, not Mexican, according to Talking Points Memo.

  • Rep. Steve King Compares Immigrants To Dogs, Insists It's A Compliment

    Iowa Republican Steve King ruffled feathers when he compared immigrants to dogs. In subsequent interviews, King not only stood behind the comments -- <a href="http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/06/14/rep-steve-king-defends-comparison-between-immigrants-and-dogs/">he insisted he meant them as a compliment</a>: "In my house, we have raised really good, high-quality Labrador Pointers, we’ve received the pick of the litter from all over the planet. You pick the vigor, the most perky. It was the utilization of the pick of the litter. What is the pick – the alert, the frisky, that’s the one you want. If someone is insulted by that, I don’t know that they belong in this country."

  • Mitt Romney Wishes He Were Latino, Because It's Easier To Win The Presidency That Way

    "My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico ... and had he been born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino." -- Mitt Romney Mitt Romney was apparently unaware that most Mexican immigrants face greater obstacles on their path to the presidency than white children born to wealthy parents with political connections.

  • Bill O'Reilly Says Latinos Want Things, Stuff

    Upset about Obama's electoral victory, Bill O'Reilly lamented the country's demographic shift, saying "the white establishment is now the minority." (In fact, it's not. <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/05/how-white-will-the-electorate-be.html">Whites still make up a solid majority of the electorate</a>.) Latinos, O'Reilly says, want "things" and "stuff." Cristina Costantini <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/analysis-bill-oreilly-wrong/story?id=17702328#.UOHpn4njnoo">dissects the argument at ABC/Univision</a>.

  • Romney Says Obama Won Because He Dolled Out "Gifts" To The Latino Community

    Unsatisfied with the hole he dug himself when he said 47 percent of the country was government-dependent and not worth reaching out to, Romney doubled down after the election saying Obama had won because he offered the Latino community "gifts" in the form of health care and other government subsidies. Most analysts familiar with Latino politics agree that Romney alienated Hispanic voters during the GOP primary, when he embraced extremist positions on immigration. The insensitive comments prompted criticism from conservatives including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. "When you're in a hole, you stop digging," <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/18/news/la-pn-republicans-abandoning-romney-gifts-20121118">said Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham</a>. "He keeps digging."

  • Ann Coulter Lashes Out At Latinos Without Checking Her Facts

    Rightwing columnist Ann Coulter lashed out at Latinos in a mean-spirited, inaccurate column painting Hispanics as dependent on government. We <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/07/ann-coulter-attacks-latinos-conservatives-hispanic-voters_n_2253721.html">fact-checked her statements here</a>.

  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio Says Latinos "Love Him" As Latino Journalists Berates Him On TV

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, famous for the zealous crackdowns on illegal immigration that have led to investigations by the Justice Department and a civil lawsuit, says that he's "never had any problems with a Latino" and that Hispanics "love" him. (The Latinos imprisoned in Arpaio's Tent City might disagree.)

  • Adam Carolla Goes On Rambling Anti-Mexican Rant

    In a rambling diatribe that overuses the word "culture," Comedian Adam Carolla railed against the California school system because it's "full of Mexicans" who he says don't like to study. An educated person might take a closer look. Mexico has the second-highest education attainment levels in Latin America behind Chile, <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/18682699">The Economist reports, citing an annual survey commissioned by the OECD</a>. Immigrant students, however, face particular obstacles, ranging from language barriers to poverty. "As a result," <a href="http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisainfocus/pisa%20in%20focus%20n%C2%B022%20(eng)--Final%20bis.pdf">the authors of an OECD education study write</a>, "immigrant students often have to overcome multiple barriers at once in order to succeed at school: a language barrier, their own immigrant status, a disadvantaged background – and the fact that many of their classmates are struggling to surmount these same obstacles to success at school." <a href="http://www.latinorebels.com/2012/12/01/adam-carollas-mind-boggling-anti-mexican-rant-explicit/">H/T: Latino Rebels.</a>