Pollster to GOP base: Republicans must aggressively reach out to Hispanics

Speaking on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday, Republican pollster Whit Ayres warned his party’s conservative base that it must push candidates and campaigns to “reach out aggressively” to Hispanic voters.   “Don’t you think that a group of incredibly hard working, family oriented, church-going, entrepreneurial, spirited people might be a good place to look for some more allies?” he asked those in attendance. “I think we should.” Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the previous six presidential races, noted Ayres, and in 2012 Mitt Romney won less than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote nationwide. Those numbers underscore the urgency of the party’s current demographic plight, he argued. “If you look at Americans who are alive today—age five or younger—only half of them are white and a quarter of them are Hispanic,” he said. But adolescent Hispanics are not the only ones that are growing at a breakneck pace, teenaged Hispanics are also becoming a large chunk of eligible voters. “Every single month for the next 20 years, 50,000 Hispanic youngsters will turn 18 years old and become eligible to vote,” said Ayres, who urged CPAC attendees to take a cue from Democrats. In 1988, the Democratic Party was in a similar spot. After losing five of the last six popular votes for president, the party appeared lost. “To get it back together, along came Bill Clinton who ushered in a new period of Democratic dominance of the White House,” said Ayres, who noted that GOP fortunes could quickly change if the party found the right candidate for 2016. The man some Republicans think could be the party’s savior three years from now—Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)—addressed the crowd at CPAC just about an hour after Ayres and several others spoke on immigration reform. But in his 15 minute speech Rubio didn’t once mention immigration reform, only serving to underscore just how divided the party’s conservative base is on the issue. “It’s the message, it’s the messenger and it’s the tone,” Ayres said of the GOP’s current woes. “Some people like to delude themselves into thinking the message is fine—we just need to communicate it better. If that’s the case, you don’t lose five of six popular votes in presidential elections. We got a problem with all three and we’re in the process of fixing it.”

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