Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio both with Cuban-American heritage. So will that pay dividends with Latino voters? Historian Miguel Levario says a Latino name alone is not enough to secure the diverse Hispanic vote.
“Over 60 percent of the population is of Mexican decent,” Levario said. “The next highest is going to be Puerto Ricans and they’re just about 9.7 percent so you can see there’s a bit of a gap there. Then Cubans are the third with, I think 3.1. Very small percent of the Latino population is of Puerto Rican and Cuban decent. Then the rest are Central American and so forth.”
When it comes to going to the polls the issues Hispanic voters are most concerned about are as diverse as the group itself.
“The problem is that, especially talking about political parties namely the republican and democratic parties, is that they want to create a monolithic Latino population. Meaning that they all look at issues the same, they all vote the same way and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Levario explained. “I think that the biggest issue for both parties is that they believe that there are certain constant issues that resonate with all Latino groups and that could not be further from the truth.”
Levario says Hispanic voters are constantly pigeon-holed into the immigration issue. In fact healthcare and education play as important and even bigger role. Republican party reps agree, there’s more to the these voters than just a Hispanic name and immigration.
“It’s a changing demographic, it’s a growing demographic,” Carl Tepper chair of the Lubbock Republican Party said. “I think the Hispanics have more depth than just a name. I think they’re interested in their businesses. I think they’re interested in their jobs just like any other american. I think it will help to see more Hispanics involved in the republican party.”
Latino candidate or not Tepper says the Republican party has some work to do in winning favor and gaining trust with this demographic.
“Nationally we definitely have some challenge. Nationally we’re looking at reintroducing ourselves to the Hispanic community. We’re looking at the Hispanic community as upwardly mobile,” Tepper explained.
The most recent Fox News poll places Senator Rubio at the head of the candidate pack with 13 percent of voter support. Senator Cruz in the middle in sixth place with eight percent.
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"We (Latino voters) are not a monolithic group" -Yanil Terón, executive director, Center for Latino Progress, Hartford