By Joe Guzzardi
June 7, 2013
For six months leading up to the 2012 presidential election, the media bombarded readers with breathless stories about the so called crucial Hispanic vote. And ever since President Obama was re-elected, those same reporters have insisted that since Latinos delivered the White House to the incumbent, they should be rewarded with a bighearted amnesty bill. The legislation the Senate will take up in June is more than generous: 11 million illegal immigrants would be legalized and 33 million more immigrants would, over the next decade, be given legal work authorization.
The pre and post-election hype was based on estimates and exit polling, two unreliable sources. But now that Census Bureau data about the actual voting is available, it turns out that the Hispanic vote wasn’t crucial and instead of being a growing and thus more influential percentage of the total electorate, it actually declined.
One November 7 Washington Post story—representative of many—wrote that national exit polls showed that 10 percent of the electorate was Hispanic which compared favorably with 9 percent in 2008 and 8 percent in 2004. The authors concluded that Republican hostility toward illegal immigrants drove Hispanics in significant numbers to the polling booths to reject Mitt Romney.
The problem with such stories is that the cold, hard facts have proved them wrong. Every year the Current Population Survey (CPS) division of the Census Bureau collects actual data and publishes a massive, irrefutable analysis. The report found that in 2012, overall turnout decreased from 2008 and 2004, most notably reflected in large decreases in youth voting for all races and also Hispanics.
The CPS revealed that the actual Hispanic vote share in 2004 was not 8 but 6 percent; in 2008 not 9 but 7.4 percent and in 2012, not 10 but 8.4 percent. More sobering news: among eligible Hispanic voters, the total that didn’t bother to vote soared to 12.1 from 9.8 million.
The only demographic sectors that showed up in larger numbers were blacks between the ages of 45-64 and 65 or older. To emphasize: decreases in Hispanic voting. And to extrapolate, Obama is back in the White House because of the black vote and the dramatic disinterest white voters showed in Romney.
In the three presidential elections since 2004, the white share has dwindled from 67.2 to 64.1 percent. On the other hand, for the first time in history, the black voter rate outpaced whites.
Most of the CPS information has not and will not appear in major news outlets because it contradicts the widely held misinformation about Hispanic voting clout. In many columns I wrote during the summer months, I repeated that the swing vote would be disenfranchised whites and other native-born Americans. And, as I predicted, 93 percent of all voters were U.S.-born.
The cruel irony is that one major reason that the Senate will debate amnesty this month is because congressional Republicans are falling all over themselves to placate Hispanics. But the CPS shows that Hispanics, at least to this point, have diminishing interest in the political process. The Gang of Eight bill is costly, American job destroying legislation and was written under the the false assumption that Hispanics are the key to electoral success. S. 744 should be defeated and Congress should instead re-evaluate its priorities to focus on restoring the American middle class.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]