While highlighting Chris Christie’s impressive performance with Latinos in a new national poll earlier in the week, The RUN largely side-stepped the reasoning behind it.
Since the posting, we’ve received feedback to help explain the numbers that show Latinos viewing the New Jersey governor more favorable than Cuban Marco Rubio. Here are three of the most compelling explanations from three separate — and yes, anonymous — sources.
Theory 1: Christie’s appeal with Latinos nationally is propelled by his standing in the Garden State.
Backgrounder from a GOPer aligned with Christie:
Christie does really well with Latinos in NJ, and this shows that successful governing style is noticed nationally. Most public polls show him near or above 50 on the ballot and higher on job approval. He even received the endorsement of the Latino Alliance of NJ, a coalition of Hispanic advocacy groups, church leaders, etc., and they had never endorsed a Republican before. The campaign has already aired hundreds of thousands of dollars of Spanish-language ads. Also, geographically, he represents many Hispanics in NJ and gets a ton of exposure in NY. Mostly though, it reflects his ability to appeal to the center in a way many other Republicans don’t.
The Latino Alliance of New Jersey backed Christie in February, citing his leadership on an “aggressive school reform agenda.” This praise would undoubtedly be wielded by Christie in a national campaign to exhibit his broad-based, cross-cutting demographic appeal.
Theory 2: Latinos are more naturally inclined to moderates and liberals
Christie does better with Latinos for the same reason he does better with Democrats and moderates: Because his politics better suits them than Rubio, the original tea party patriot.
From a neutral political observer and lobbyist:
It’s a pretty liberal bloc overall. I will avoid the ranting about the stupidity of GOP consultants babbling about getting 30 to 40 percent of an 8 percent bloc as the key to future viability. Especially as anyone with a lick of sense knows . . . there’s no way to win a bidding war with the Dems as they will always offer more. Hell, the revelation is that 41 percent no difference for Q35.
This source smartly points to Question 35 in the Latino Decisions survey, which may bear the most frightening result for Republicans: A plurality say the whole immigration push won’t matter a bit towards their feelings about the GOP. See it:
35. Some Republicans have said they need to do a better job reaching out to Latino voters and specifically do a better job at talking about immigration issues. If the Republican Party supports immigration reform that provides legal residence to those who are currently undocumented, but says they will not allow undocumented immigrants to ever apply for U.S. citizenship, would that make you feel more favorable towards the Republican Party, less favorable, or not change the way you feel?
Much more favorable . . . 9
Somewhat more favorable . . . 7
Somewhat less favorable . . . 12
Much less favorable . . . 23
Have no effect/would not change . . . 41
Don’t know . . . 7
Theory 3: Rubio’s Cuban, meaning virtually nothing to the rest of Latinos
From a Democratic operative who has done substantial work with Latino voters:
The thought that Rubio would ever be the GOP answer to Hispanics has always been laughable and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of Hispanics. They’re not monolithic. He’s Cuban. That means nothing to Mexican-Americans in the southwest. Hell, it doesn’t even mean anything to Puerto Ricans in Orlando or even Cubans in Tampa (which have ALWAYS behaved differently politically than South Florida Cubans). If anything, a lot of non-Cuban Hispanics in Florida view Miami Cubans with skepticism. And younger Miami Cubans are more open politically than their parents. My point is that the national punditry has always over-simplified this. Other than South Florida Cubans of a certain generation, Hispanic voters are (I think) most likely to vote for a white Democrat who is good on their issues than a Hispanic Republican who’s not. And Christie comes across as less of an ideologue as Rubio, so it makes total sense that Hispanics would be less hostile to him.