Shortly afterwards, Mr. Mehlman offered the world his own analysis of the voting patterns in the 2004 election and what they tell us as to why his boss won.
As the Washington Post reported, Mr. Mehlman argued that Mr. Bush won largely by “broadening his appeal among key swing constituencies, including Roman Catholics, Latinos and suburban women.” Predictably, he maintained that “the single most important number that has come out of the election” is the 44 percent Hispanic support the president supposedly won this year . [GOP Governors Celebrate Party Wins |Tutorial on Bush Campaign Strategies Shows What Went Right, By Dan Balz, November 19, 2004]
“Future Republican majorities will depend in part on the party’s ability to expand its support among Hispanic voters, and 2004 may have been a significant step in that direction if GOP candidates can build on it,” the Post reported him as telling the national meeting of Republican governors in New Orleans last month.
What Mr. Mehlman told them has already hardened in the party’s mental arteries as the gospel about the election and how to win in the future: Pander to Hispanic and other “minorities“ and take the white mainstream core of the Republican Party base for granted.
And to judge from the president’s immediate resurrection of his congressional amnesty plan for illegal aliens and his new Hispanic cabinet appointments, that seems to be the strategy his policies will reflect as well.
It is crucial to the future of the Republican Party to flush these misconceptions about why and how he won out of the party arteries as soon as possible, because we now know they are wrong and if they become the basis for political strategy and even policies, they will lead to Republican ruin.
The 44 percent Hispanic support for Mr. Bush has been dubious from the first day it was reported, but we now know it’s not correct. The figure came originally from exit polls reported by the Associated Press and other news services and was a national average based on similar exit polls in each state. The state in which Mr. Bush supposedly won Hispanic support most heavily was his own, Texas, where the AP reported he won a whopping and unprecedented 59 percent of Hispanics.
That, if nothing else, is what’s wrong. The Associated Press last week issued a press release acknowledging it isn’t so. Mr. Bush won only 49 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas.
In its Nov. 3 exit polls reports, the AP release states,
“The Associated Press overstated President Bush’s support among Texas Hispanics. Under a post-election adjustment by exit poll providers Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, 49 percent of Hispanics in the state voted for Bush, not a majority. The revised result does not differ to a statistically significant degree from Bush’s 43 percent support among Texas Hispanics in a 2000 exit poll.”
The revised poll shows that Texas Hispanic voters “voted 50 percent for Kerry and 49 percent for Bush, not 41-59 Kerry-Bush.”
And if you factor in the new 49 percent Hispanic support in Texas in place of the old 59 percent in Mr. Bush’s national Hispanic exit polls, the 44 percent national figure vanishes. What you get is closer to 40 percent of the Hispanic vote on a national level—an improvement over his 35 percent support back in 2000, but hardly the sort of seismic shift the pandermaniacs over at the RNC have been crowing over.
Moreover, if the Texas exit poll was wrong, then why should we be inclined to accept similar polls that show heavily inflated Hispanic support for Mr. Bush in this election?
In Florida, for example, Mr. Bush is said to have won 56 percent of the Hispanic vote, a result almost as incredible as the Texas claim.
Finally, an independent outfit, the Velasquez Institute, specializes in analyzing Hispanic voting patterns and concluded on election day that Mr. Bush won only 34 percent of the Hispanic bloc nationally—a result a little smaller than but more consistent with his 2000 showing. There’s no reason to think their analysis is flawed.
How many Hispanic votes Mr. Bush won this year is important, because as Mr. Mehlman acknowledges, it tells the party at which demographic groups it should direct its appeals and “outreach,” and what issues (and policies) the party should support (or avoid) that are likely to attract (or alienate) those groups.
With Hispanics, the main issue will be immigration, and unless the blood of political reality can start flowing through the party’s mental arteries again, the errors now blocking those arteries will keep Mr. Bush and his party on the wrong side of the coming immigration battle.