Ted Cruz's Helpful Sophistry on the Latino Vote

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 30 2012 9:32 AM

Ted Cruz's Helpful Sophistry on the Latino Vote

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 29: Senate Republican Candidate, Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz speaks at the 'Patriots for Romney-Ryan Reception' on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC, which is scheduled to conclude August 30. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Incoming Sen. Ted Cruz, a Cuban-American Republican, dazzled the American Principles Project last night with a campaign-style speech about conservative revival. (I say "campaign-style" because some of the lines that impressed reporters -- "it took Jimmy Carter to give us Ronald Reagan" -- have been in Cruz speeches since at least 2010, when these lines made more sense.) Elise Foley found the right lede:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

"You want to know why Barack Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote? Tone on immigration contributed, but I think far more important was '47 percent,'" Cruz said.. "everyone, if you put a camera in their face all day long, will say something poorly" -- it was that Republicans were unable to show that the party doesn't think those Americans want to improve their economic standing.

Sounds great! Like Bobby Jindal, like everyone else who chucked Mitt Romney out of a moving car this month, Cruz is saying that the Republican agenda is perfectly fine and popular, but Romney himself lost people by talking about the "47 percent." The problem, as it pertains to Hispanic votes, is that it isn't true. On August 22, two weeks before the "47 percent" tape was leaked by Mother Jones, the NBC/Univision poll checked how Romney was doing with Hispanics. Terribly!

Hispanics, the largest-growing segment of the U.S. population over the past decade, said they preferred Obama over Romney in the presidential race, 63 to 28 percent.
That margin has been relatively consistent since May when the poll started sampling additional Latino interviews. It’s also, though, far below the stated Romney campaign goal of winning 38 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Romney's eventual share of the Hispanic vote was just one point lower than that -- 27 percent. The recipe for his failure was immigration and economic policy, not any later gaffes.

But it's important for Cruz to say this. The new Congress will include two Hispanic Republican senators, both Cuban. Marco Rubio is running around arguing that the GOP can only be saved with immigration reform. Cruz is telling them not to worry. So far, when either man speaks, the first reaction is "gee, how right he is -- he should run for president!" Which isn't very clarifying.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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