After its November defeat, the Republican National Committee commissioned an extensive survey to find out went wrong. Yesterday we learned the results: anemic support from Hispanics and young voters. These data were known with the exit polls hours after the election. Have the Republicans thrown away millions on this survey?
According to news reports the survey was accompanied by a report authored by current and past party leaders and makes only a single recommendation: immigration.
Yet the report provides no evidence that embracing immigration reform would increase the Republican vote among Hispanics. Nor does it make a specific recommendation as to what "reform" or set of reforms Republicans should support. In the current debate, the "Gang of Eight" in the Senate is reportedly ready to embrace a pathway to citizenship for all illegal immigrants in the country which would take as long as 13 years. Is that likely to please Hispanics who want citizenship? Or will the long delay repel them? And what of Republicans who favor legalization for those who have entered the country but with no chance for citizenship? Will that end up alienating the Hispanic electorate just as much as outright refusal to afford those who have defied immigration laws any reprieve whatsoever?
The National Committee is engaging in self-delusion and the sort of ethnic pandering its spokesman decry. Are Hispanics really so naive as to not detect they are being condescended to? If immigration reform means nothing more than moving people from "the shadows" to permanent non-citizenship, then doesn't that simply convey paternalism and insincerity?
And why should anyone expect this attempt to appease a huge, varied constituency be any more successful than the Republican Jewish Coalition, which spent millions on the campaign and produced a pathetic 30 percent of the Jewish vote? There are very good reasons why people vote the way they vote. Hispanics and Jews just don't like the Republican message for historical and pragmatic reasons. Mitt Romney's aggressive and transparent efforts to side with Israel notwithstanding, he won only a handful more Jewish votes than prior Republican candidates. Yet the National Committee is still persuaded they can do better next time with Hispanics using the same strategy. They have no indication this will work. If they believed it did, the National Committee would have come out for immediate citizenship for illegal immigrants.
It's time for a new National Committee dedicated to the last party platform which disdains such appeals.