It has become a common talking point that former Republican Nevada Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle damaged her race against Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid because of her stance against illegal immigration. Many in the media will point to her campaign ads as proof that she was too much of a firebrand on the issue as opposed to other Republican candidates across the country; however, the numbers just do not show that to be the case. Critics can say what they want but the only thing that likely drove Latinos in Nevada to the polls en masse were union busses.
According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, nationally this election cycle, Republicans received 34% of the Latino vote. Democrats held a two to one advantage in this respect. This information is generally nothing new from 2008. Ms. Angle received 30% of the Latino vote in Nevada this year. While this is indeed four percent below the national average for GOP’ers, Nevada’s Republican Governor-elect Brian Sandoval won his state-wide race with about 33% of Nevada’s Hispanic vote. It should be noted that Mr. Sandoval is not only of Hispanic heritage himself but also did not campaign as heavily on the illegal immigration issue as Ms. Angle did either.
In fact, Republican Senator John McCain, co-author of the 2005 failed immigration reform bill, fared hardly better than Angle did with Latinos nationwide and worse in Nevada in his 2008 run for the presidency and garnering less of the Hispanic vote in Nevada than Angle did this year. Pew Hispanic Research Center states:
Republicans.3 In the 2008 presidential election, Latinos supported Democrat Barack Obama by a margin of more than two-to-one over Republican John McCain — 67% vs. 31% according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of the national exit poll.
California Republican candidates for office Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman also saw similar numbers in the low 30’s as far as Latino support went. Pew continues:
With the exception of Florida, in states where exit polling data are available, Democratic candidates won the Latino vote, usually by wide margins. In California’s Senate race, Democrat Barbara Boxer won 65% of the Latino vote while Republican Carly Fiorina won 28%. In California’s gubernatorial race, Democrat Jerry Brown won 64% of California’s Latino vote while Republican Meg Whitman won 30%. In Nevada, Latinos supported Democrat Harry Reid over Republican Sharron Angle by a greater than two-to-one margin — 68% vs. 30%. Latino voters in Arizona, Nevada and Texas similarly supported Democratic candidates over Republican candidates in Senate and gubernatorial races
Only in Florida, did Hispanics support major state-wide Republican candidates over Democratic opponents. Republican Senator-elect Marco Rubio picked up 55% of the Hispanic vote, while Florida’s Republican Governor-elect Rick Scott carried 50%, and his Democratic opponent Alex Sink received 48% of the Latino vote. Florida Republicans owe their Hispanic support mainly to the Cuban community.
Additionally, according to recent exit polling data done on behalf of FAIR by the Polling Company, the majority of Nevada voters support an Arizona style immigration law:
Exit polling of Nevada voters in Tuesday’s election finds that more than two-thirds (67 percent) of them rated immigration as an “important” or “very important” factor in determining their votes for Governor and U.S. Senator. By a 60 percent to 33 percent margin, Nevada voters would like to see their state implement immigration enforcement measures similar to those enacted in Arizona. The poll of 500 voters was conducted by The Polling Company Inc. on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The poll reveals the depth of concern about the impact of illegal immigration on the state. Fully 45 percent ofNevada voters said they “strongly support” implementation of state-based policies designed to discourage illegal immigration. Illegal immigration has become a critical issue for the state, as unemployment has risen to 14.5 percent and Nevada taxpayers now pay an estimated $1.19 billion a year to subsidize basic services to illegal aliens and their families.
Given these numbers in states where the Hispanic community has a considerable presence, is it truly fair to say that Angle’s stance on illegal immigration uniquely positioned her to to lose? She lost to Senator Reid by 5 percent and to say the majority of that gap was a result of where Angle stood on immigration is a little too presumptuous.