The Hispanic Republican Conference of the Texas House of Representatives endorsed Governor Rick Perry for President of the United States – before most anyone had even considered his running.
Didn’t anyone tell them they aren’t even supposed to be Republicans?
If Texas is any judge, it looks like this stereotype may be losing traction, and writing off Hispanics as a lost voting bloc is a mistake in any campaign. “Hispanics are Republicans,” Ronald Reagan once said, “they just don’t know it.”
Who stands to gain from this? Rick Perry.
The fact is, Hispanics do vote Republican – the number may even be increasing – and the Lone Star State is the perfect case study. Lionel Sosa, a nationally recognized media consultant out of San Antonio, said, “This is a new revolution that is happening in Texas.”
According to the 2010 census, Hispanics make up over a third of the state’s population, and growing. Republicans gained five Hispanic representatives in the 2010 elections, and they comprise a powerful force in the legislature. Similarly, the percentage of Hispanics voting Republican or intending to vote Republican has increased, growing from just 8% in 1978 to nearly 40% in 2010.
As the leader of what some might call a demographically oxymoronic state that votes overwhelmingly Republican but boasts a substantial minority population, Governor Perry has had to maintain a delicate balance. Some have criticized Perry for perceived inconsistencies on immigration reform (a hot-button issue, but certainly not the only topic of importance to Hispanics), and others point to his tepid reception at a prominent Latino convention last month.
But Perry has done a remarkable job of winning the Hispanic vote, taking a sizable 39% in 2010. “I support Governor Perry because of the traditional values he stands for,” says Geoffrey Tahuahua, a young Hispanic conservative who serves as State Chairman of the Texas Students for Rick Perry. “The values of the Republican Party are the same values that the Hispanic community holds near and dear to its heart, and I am proud to support him.” And with President Obama’s approval rating having dropped significantly among Hispanics, that number could grow in 2012, should Perry choose to run.
The fact is, Perry resonates with voters, regardless of race. If he can do nationally what he’s been doing in Texas, y’all had better get ready. This is shaping up to be one heck of a campaign season.