Friday, March 5, 2010

Do Republicans have a Hispanic problem? (Part II)

"Could ballot position explain these weird election results?"

That's a question that was asked by Rorschach of Red Ink: Texas in the comments to this post examining the Republicans' Hispanic problem.

There are no direct correlations that I could find on the current ballot (same size, same voting district, etc.) to test this theory but I did find a couple of examples where a candidate with a Hispanic surname was placed first on the ballot against an opponent with a more traditionally Anglo surname. The results were as follows:

Harris County Commissioner Pct. 2:
Dorothy Olmos 37.24%
Jack Mormon 62.76%

In addition to this two-person race, there were several multi-candidate races where a Caucasian-named candidate ran considerably higher than a candidate with a Hispanic or Latino surname:
State Rep. - Dist. 127
Susan Curling: 20.01%
Martin Basuldua: 12.77%
Dan Huberty: 48.74%
Addie Wiseman: 18.48%

District Judge - 180th judicial district
Danny Dexter 46.50%
Emily Munoz 17.26%
Mark Brown 36.24%

Family District Judge - 308th district
Rick Ramos 18.52%
Alice J. O'Neill 29.38%
James Lombardino 41.09%
William Frazier 11.02%

Family District Judge - 311th district
Donna Detamore 18.21%
Lorraine Cervantes 7.70%
Denise Pratt 51.19%
Anthony Magdelano 9.14%
Joel A. Grandstaff 13.76%
None of what I reproduced here is definitive proof that Republicans are a group of racist old white folks who are in desperation mode as they watch their culture fade away. Without taking a look at all of the candidates in all of the races there's just no way to know. In most of the races above, name ID (rather than racial ID) is enough to tilt the election, never mind an endorsement by Link Letter or The Texas Conservative Review.

Then there's one more theory, in the case of the local race for Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector, that makes sense. This time submitted by Kevin Whited:
I think a lot of voters who identify with that latter group took a look at the way Vazquez was anointed, and decided this race on the merits of the candidates.
The Vasquez campaign was not without its warts, and neither was the Carillo campaign. Both candidates were flawed, Vasquez more so than Carillo. It very well could be that the voters made an informed decision based on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

That being said, in Harris County, I could not find one example of a candidate with a name that suggested they could be a minority (Hispanic, Asian, etc.) beating a traditionally Caucasian named candidate. Guzman defeated Vela, Orlando Sanchez ran unopposed (although his under vote was actually quite low comparatively.) so there's no smoking gun there.

One election does not a trend make, and don't let breathless InterLeft bloggers with race issues of their own convince you otherwise. I said in the earlier post that yes, I DO believe Republicans have a Hispanic problem. I never outlined what I thought the problem was however.

It's as simple as this: Republicans need to do a better job recruiting more quality minority (including Hispanic) candidates to stand for office in their primaries. Only then can they shake off the appearance of racism, or root it out if it actually does exist in meaningful numbers within the party.

Call this election an "incomplete" in terms of its ability to answer the questions above. Right now the Republican problem is the appearance of racism within the rank and file of the party. As well all know, in politics, appearance is 90% of the battle. If you're a Republican supporter you had better work to turn that trend around soon, before your structural advantage in Texas withers away to nothing.


  1. I'm still thinking about this one, so I'm going to bug you some more. Maybe I can understand it some day.

    Can you elaborate on this:

    It's as simple as this: Republicans need to do a better job recruiting more quality minority (including Hispanic) candidates to stand for office in their primaries.

    Vasquez may not have run a stellar campaign, he might have ticked a few people off about the lawsuit settlement and/or the appointment, and he certainly was criticized on his living arrangements but as far as qualifications go, I think it would be hard to find someone more qualified.

    And the down ballot minority candidates were outstanding. Just from your list above, Emily Munoz is experienced, articulate and a hard campaigner. Rick Ramos is not only qualified, he has a story that should put him in a legislative seat, which I told him he should do. Lorraine and Anthony in the 311th race, both well qualified for the job at hand.

    So, I guess I'm not understanding your point on qualifications. I've started to write about this a dozen times and each time hold back.

    There is a problem, I'm starting to think it is more a a cultural thing that leftys will call inherent racism but to me it is more like, if all other things are equal in my mind, I'll choose my neighbor over a person that lives across town. Or something like that.

    Sorry for the ramble, still trying to understand this one.

  2. "And the down ballot minority candidates were outstanding."

    I've no doubt they were....but I didn't hear (much) about them, and I pay a considerable amount of attention to politics. Imagine just how confused the average voter must be?

    My point is not that the candidates in question were unqualified, but that those qualifications are not being championed.

    Look at it this way:

    The Democrats were floundering in the Gov's race UNTIl Bill White decided to jump over, mainly because the Democrats agreed to clear the road. If the GOP has a problem garnering minority support then why not 'clear the road' for them?

    Get voters used to the idea of quality Republican candidates instead of the usual gang of suspects that we've seen now propping each other up for the last 20 years.

    Then there's this: Beyond qualifications there's the little matter of electability. As you said, Vasquez was qualified, but not electable. And if it was suspected that he might not be electable then why appoint him to a position in the first place?

  3. Ah, machine politics. The thing that we all say we don't want but need. The machine has been controlled by a group that I swear would rather lose than share power.

    Interestingly, there were two races in which there was a clear lack of qualifications from the "machine" pick vs. others in the race. In both of them, voters somehow got it right or at least forced a runoff. Danny Dexter will be in a runoff with the clearly more qualified Marc Brown. And Rachel Palmer lost to the clearly more qualified Don Smyth.

    You're correct - sorry to use this as a sounding board.

  4. Eh...all politics is based on some machine at some level. What are the parties but great vote-generating organizational structures?

    Ideally the machine should ensure that good candidates, who support the values of the voters, are on the ticket. If they don't (which could be the case with today's HCRP) then you have a disconnect that reveals itself in funny ways.

  5. I don't know about Leo's being unelectable, but since he didn't get elected... maybe so. However, he was put in on the heels of a hugely popular predecessor over (what I remember was) fairly little disagreement. Memory could fail, but I think this was nothing like the Bacarisse/Emmett deal when Eckels resigned.

    Gosh, this one messes with my head too, as I try to understand it.


Comment Policy:Any comment containing profanity or presonal attacks will be disallowed. Repeated violations will get you marked as SPAM. Real name is preferred, fake names will be carefully considered before being allowed. If your on-line moniker is so widely known as to be a clear identifier, that's OK too. If your comment doesn't appear, give it some time. I do have a day job.

Sports Section