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Another Myth Begins to Die

[ 53 ] October 19, 2012 |

The idea that Latinos are like a ripe mango ready for Republicans to pick (no doubt they would hire people to pick those mangoes–Republicans don’t pick fruit) as soon as the party stopped being the open party of white supremacy was always a stereotype. The argument is that these Latinos are socially conservative Catholics who agree with Republicans on social issues. Well some do, some don’t. But that’s too much complexity for most people. The reality is that Latinos are changing like the rest of the country on social issues like gay marriage:

For the first time since the Pew Hispanic Center began asking the question in its National Survey of Latinos, more Hispanics favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally than oppose same-sex marriage, by 52 percent to 34 percent. As recently as 2006, those figures were reversed, with 56 percent of Latinos opposing same-sex marriage while 31 percent supported it.

Despite increased activism against same-sex marriage by some U.S. Roman Catholic bishops this election season, Latino Catholics are more supportive of same-sex marriage than Latino evangelical Protestants, the Pew survey found, by 54 percent compared with 25 percent. Latinos who are religiously unaffiliated favor same-sex marriage by 71 percent.

Comments (53)

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  1. MAJeff says:

    The religious aspect seems to mirror the rest of the population: Catholics ignore the bishops.

    I wonder what the breakdown would be for national origin, Mexicans v. Puerto Ricans v. Cubans, etc.

    • DrDick says:

      True. Most Catholics (80% IIRC) use birth control and many are pro-choice.

      • …and they are increasingly accepting of gay rights. Part of this, I think, comes from great openness. It is one thing to demonize and condemn people you don’t know– it’s much harder when it is your own kid. Another part, probably, has to do with the Church’s hypocrisy in the clerical abuse scandal.

    • NonyNony says:

      Honestly it’s like some folks don’t understand how social change happens.

      A few centuries ago Catholics thought slavery was an essential institution for society. That is not the case today. A few centuries ago Catholics thought democracy was an affront to the natural order – today there are members of the hierarchy who still believe that but you won’t find many American Catholics who think we should be going back to enlightened monarchy (or at least they won’t talk about it in public) and the Church hierarchy has come around to at least a grumbling acceptance of the fact that this new fangled democracy isn’t going to go away.

      Change happens. And it happens in a bottom-up fashion. We know this because if it didn’t ossified hierarchies like the Catholic Church would never change.

      • anonymous says:

        How does the changing of parishioners’ minds imply that the hierarchy of the RCC, which is indeed ossified, has changed? Ordinary U.S. and European Catholics are far ahead of them on birth control, GLBT rights, the rights of children not to be sexually abused, and even abortion. The hierarchy has strong ties to Opus Dei, who don’t seem all that fond of this newfangled “democracy” thing.

  2. DocAmazing says:

    Latino Catholics are more supportive of same-sex marriage than Latino evangelical Protestants, the Pew survey found… Latinos who are religiously unaffiliated favor same-sex marriage by 71 percent.

    I suspect that if you removed the modifier “Latino” you would find the statistics very similar.

    • KadeKo says:

      Speaking of “remove the adjective Latino“, I’m curious if on this issue the results break down by age similar to other voter groups.

      (Yeah, I can’t “crosstab” polls or any good geeky stuff like that.)

  3. DrDick says:

    There is also the fact that Latinos also tend to vote for their economic interests, which are largely in direct opposition to Republican policies. The notion that any demographically based voting bloc is a single issue constituency, or completely homogeneous, is absurd.

    • Josh G. says:

      Exactly. Voting based on “social issues” (i.e. hatred of abortion, gays, etc.) seems to be limited to the elderly white demographic. Latinos and African-Americans don’t do this, and as far as I can tell, most younger whites don’t either.

      • DrDick says:

        Even among white working class social conservatives, they tend to vote Republican only because the Democrats have largely abandoned labor issues (they did not suddenly become more conservative in the mid-70s).

        • Malaclypse says:

          Well, that plus busing.

          • Josh G. says:

            I didn’t live through that period, but most of what I read indicates that busing was conducted in a highly problematic fashion. Boston was perhaps the worst, with a plan (expressly designed to be punitive to the recalcitrant locals) which bused students between the toughest Irish Catholic neighborhood and the worst black ghetto. Once Milliken v. Bradley exempted the suburbs from busing, there was never any hope that it could accomplish anything other than to elevate racial tensions.

            There was enough racism in the 1970s that any plan to eliminate racial gaps in education would have led to backlash among whites. But the manner in which it was actually carried out made that backlash far worse, and far more politically damaging to Great Society liberalism, than it might have bee otherwise.

            Reading histories of the 1970s (Nixonland, How We Got Here, Mad As Hell) it’s difficult not to want to slap some of the 1970s liberals and Democrats. I want to tell them “Don’t you know how good you have it compared to what your successors will have to deal with? Take what you can while you still have a chance!” It’s amazing the opportunities they squandered and how oblivious they were to fading public support. It makes it easier to understand (though not excuse) the obsession with modern Democrats at compromising and staying towards the center. The problem is that the country has moved so far in a reactionary direction over the past 30 years that today’s “compromise” is to the right of what Nixon would have considered sound policy.

            • FlipYrWhig says:

              It makes it easier to understand (though not excuse) the obsession with modern Democrats at compromising and staying towards the center.

              True, and there’s also something even simpler playing a role: Bill Clinton did that stuff and won twice, even as the South and the Sun Belt completed its swing to Republican control. So Democratic strategists have been counseling Clintonian tactics ever since. They do what wins. If liberalism won more, Democrats would own it more.

              • DrDick says:

                Centrism is better understood in terms of campaign contributions. The shift began in the mid-70s when Democratic strategists began advocating for a more “business friendly” stance to overcome the overwhelming Republican advantage in fundraising.

                • FlipYrWhig says:

                  Good point.

                • NonyNony says:

                  Yes, but if it didn’t work to win elections, then they’d stop doing it.

                  It’s one of those fancy-shmancy multivariable problems. It gets them more money and it seems to get them more votes too.

                  Whether those two variables are independent is left as an exercise to the reader. And if they aren’t independent, then you can’t fault the strategists and candidates for, as Don Rumsfeld might put it, working with the voters that they have rather than the voters that one might wish that they had…

            • Karen says:

              This. I am old enough to remember the busing fights — I’m 49 — and some of my friends were test subjects for this particular experiment. The school bureaucrats and, especially, the judges in their desegregation orders had a nasty habit of ignoring local input and busing students from middle class schools to decidedly not middle class neighborhoods where they became prey for the local thugs. This was not always sending white kids to the projects; in Boston many of the black kids were from better off families than those in the white schools. Most often, however, busing moved one set of poor kids far away so they could attend school with other poor kids who loathed the intruders.

              The better policy has always been to send a few poor kids to middle-class schools. Everyone’s scores go up that way, and the poor kids get access to the nicer facilities and better teachers.

              • JL says:

                Or to create cool innovative programs in poor inner-city schools that families from around the district will want to send kids to.

                I did that in the mid-90s, in late elementary school. I bused voluntarily to a specialized math/science program in a poor ghetto area, that was half neighborhood kids and half bused kids.

                I think I ended up a better person for going to a school outside my sheltered upper-middle-class life for a while. And my own neighborhood school was run by complacent upper-middle-class social climbers, and was a far more predatory environment than anything the poor areas dreamed up.

          • DrDick says:

            Desegregation was a big factor, but I am not sure if even that would have done the trick if the Dems had not basically thrown labor overboard to attract more business contributions.

            • brewmn says:

              Do explain how the Democrats abandoned labor. To me, it seems that the Republicans bouth support from the most high-profile unions, and, once in office, proceeded to eviscerate their spouses of convenience.

          • Well, that plus busing.

            Yeah, you think?

            It’s odd to see someone besides Manju writing racial politics out of the partisan realignment of the 70s.

            • DrDick says:

              Certainly not me. Remember, I actually attended segregated schools for the first few years. As I said in response to Mal, it was an important factor, but I am not sure it would have gained the traction it did if the Dems had not gone soft on labor.

              • I like this explanation much better than “…only because the Democrats have largely abandoned labor issues.”

                Not the sole causal factor; not even a causal factor. A lack of countervailing pressure against the causal factor.

                Sounds about right.

        • FlipYrWhig says:

          I guess there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing going on here, but I would guess that the causality was reversed: it was because of liberal attitudes towards race/gender/sexuality that those voters started to stray, and as a result a new breed of Democrats started to run as socially tolerant pro-business rather than socially regressive pro-labor. I don’t think Democrats just decided one day to abandon labor issues; Republicans just did a damn fine job getting laborers to worry more about law and order, race and gender than about, well, labor.

          • DrDick says:

            If you look at the timing, however, the real defection of the white working class takes place in the 80s, with Reagan, after the DLC precursors started advocating a more”business friendly” stance in the mid-70s. There was certainly some attrition from 1968 on, but it was only later that the floodgates opened.

            • I believe it was Ruy Tiexera who wrote that realignments have happened in two stages since the late 60s: there’s a de-alignment, in which the old majority party loses some support and the parties move into rough parity, and then the realignment in which the old minority party moves into the lead, a decade or more later. He writes about Nixon’s victories being the former, and Reagan’s being the latter. He also speculates that Clinton’s wins were the dealignment of the Reagan coalition, and that the “Coming Democratic Majority” is/will be the realignment. It’s an interesting framework.

              It’s notable to me that the labor movement today is very liberal on racial and immigration issues, much more so than the population at large. This was not always the case, right up until the realignment we’re talking about.

              This leads me to conclude that the white labor voters who became “Reagan Democrats” were, in the aggregate, the more racist segments of the labor movement, while those who remained Democrats were the less racist.

  4. njorl says:

    Yes, but I have it on good authority that Latino support for Mitt Romney exceeds 0%.

  5. witless chum says:

    The fact that Latinos have been pushed to vote for the more gay rights-friendly party for the last decade is probably a bit of a driver here, no? Hasn’t social science mostly suggested that people are more likely to start embracing their political parties views on issues they don’t care that much about?

    • mpowell says:

      This may be a brilliant insight.

      I was going to say that Republicans are not wrong to think that Latino’s may be more socially conservative than the population on average, but that the obvious racism in the Republican party will prevent them from taking advantage of it.

      But it may actually be worse than that for social conservatives. Because the party of social conservatives is so obviously hostile to these demographic groups, both on an economic level and also due to outright racism, that it will actually cause those demographic groups to grow more socially liberal as they self-identify with the Democratic party.

  6. Doug M. says:

    Let’s not go overboard, here. It’s perfectly possible to have Republican Hispanic politicians who are pro-gay. This is particularly true among Cuban-American politicians from Florida — they’re almost all Republican, and a startling number of them are either openly in favor of gay rights or are silent on the issue, ostentatiously not joining the GOP chorus.

    Don’t believe me? Look up Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the most senior Republican woman in Congress and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She’s a woman, she’s Hispanic, she voted against DOMA and to repeal DADT, she supports gay marriage, she’s a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus — and she’s a Republican. (She’s also a complete troglodyte on foreign affairs, but never mind that now.)

    The Cubans have been squish on social issues for a long time now. They’re well to the left of the GOP mainstream on everything from gun rights to abortion. And the GOP hasn’t raised any fuss about it. Quite the opposite, if anything! The Cubans tend to punch above their weight within the party. As witness the fact that a Florida congresswoman of rather modest accomplishments is running the third most powerful committee in the House.

    There’s no obvious reason why this couldn’t apply to the larger Hispanic groups as well. I don’t think it will, myself… but the question isn’t as open-and-shut as Erik seems to be suggesting.

    Doug M.

    • IM says:

      But then cuban-americans don`t vote republican for reasons of social conservatism.

      And that is the old argument: That because of thier supposed social conservatism latinos are natural republicans.

      • Doug M. says:

        Erik was nuancing that argument: Latinos aren’t even that socially conservative, necessarily, any more.

        And my counterpoint was: there is one Latino group that consistently votes GOP, and it is *the least socially conservative* one.

        You can argue that Cubans are weird, and heck yeah — they are weird.

        But the fact remains that there are over a million Cuban Americans down in Florida, they’re about as socially liberal as moderate Democrats — significantly more liberal than your average Mexican-American — and they’re still voting 3-1 Republican.

        Doug M.

    • Josh G. says:

      Cuban-Americans are so different than other American Hispanics that you can’t really judge them based on the same standards. Many of them are of largely white Spanish ancestry and consider themselves to be white people (and are often more than a little racist themselves).

      And color me skeptical that the Republicans can give up their racial animus easily. Look at how assiduously Bush and Rove courted the Hispanic vote during Bush’s two terms – and compare that to the Republican attitude in 2012. The Republicans have actually gone backward, retreating further into racist rhetoric even as white Americans become a smaller portion of the electorate. Things will eventually change, but only when the Silent Generation Tea Party base dies of old age.

      • Doug M. says:

        The Mariel wave and their children make up nearly a third of Florida CubAms, and they’re a lot darker — most of them don’t get identified as “white”.

        I agree that the GOP is having trouble shifting away from being the party of white identity. And I agree that this is causing major problems for them with Hispanic voters. Those are pretty much received facts. The question is, once that’s no longer an issue (or is much less of an issue), what then?

        Erik is suggesting that the gradual diversification and social liberalization of the country’s Hispanic population will make them a hard target for the GOP anyway. Me, I’m less sure, and I’m pointing to the Cubans as a counterexample.

        Doug M.

  7. Downpuppy says:

    When are the Republicans planning on stopping being the open party of white supremacy?

  8. Craigo says:

    My favorite recent bit of demographic sophistry has been Chris Cillizza claiming that Romney doesn’t have a woman problem, because he’s doing as well or better among female voters than any recent GOP nominee save Bush in 2004.

    So Romney is keeping pace with the four occasions since 1988 when the GOP lost the popular vote, while trailing the only cycle in which they won it. Progress!

  9. parrot says:

    look, there are no gay latinos nor are there any gay persians … get over it people … there are no gay people, only gay dogs (i saw an episode on South Park). Put the genie (cross dressin’ tramp) back in the bottle. Put him back… do it…and while you’re at, put down that gay fruit (obviously an allusion to chris kattan who was also not a gay character, but maybe ace + gary were? huh)

    • parrot says:

      my brain membrane goes gently mobius on gay talk … not threatened though … though sometimes when i pray, i wish i could have been one of the angels who visited Lot …

  10. tsam says:

    Mistake 4,325,194 for Republicans: The assumption that Latinos, African Americans, women, the young…and all other groups of “those people” are some monolithic voting group. Dems buy that bullshit too, but they’re far less offensive with it.

    • wengler says:

      The most reliable indicator of voter affiliation is class. The only two groups where this isn’t the case are African-Americans and Jewish-Americans. They vote overwhelmingly Democratic no matter their income.

      • Manju says:

        The most reliable indicator of voter affiliation is class.

        Income.

        If you use education as a proxy for class instead, thereby excluding “Teachers, social workers, nurses, and skilled technicians” (as Andrew Gelman puts it) while including high-income blue collar business owners, don’t count those not-working (they vote Dem), and do not control for Jim Crow…you can produce a result that shows a mass exodus of the White Working Class beginning around the 1970′s.

        Ruy Teixeira does this.

        • chris says:

          you can produce a result that shows a mass exodus of the White Working Class beginning around the 1970′s.

          Given the way you’ve redefined your class variable, you really ought to call it the White Ignorant Class instead. Working has nothing to do with it.

          All you’ve really shown is that the White Ignorant Class will follow whichever party happens to be raising the banner of white supremacy at the moment. What a freaking surprise.

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