This week’s Herald column tackles the GOP’s, and my fellow members of the political media’s obsession with Marco Rubio as Mitt Romney’s running mate.
Rubio won his Senate seat with 55 percent of the Hispanic vote in Florida, notably, losing the share of that vote located in Central Florida, where more Hispanics are of Puerto Rican descent. He’s young and telegenic, and by the way, would bolster the self-belief of white conservatives that they, too, belong to a diverse party.
But the media fixation with Rubio, and the GOP’s attempts to drape him over their shoulders, speaks to a fundamental flaw in the Magical Minority theory.
For one thing, Rubio is Cuban American and, as such, he represents around 5 percent of America’s Latino population, fully two thirds of which is Mexican American. The experiences of those two communities could not be more different. Republicans (and the media) may not see the geographic, ethnic and cultural distinctions, but Latinos do. And in the case of illegal immigration, there is no “wet foot, dry foot” policy for Mexican, Honduran or other economic migrants, leading to a sense among many, fair or not, that Cuban Americans are afforded an unfair advantage.
Likewise, Cuban Americans are a predominantly conservative constituency, while the majority of Hispanics tend to be more liberal. They favor social programs, public education and healthcare reform, by wide margins.
More fundamentally, the notion that simply dangling a person with an Hispanic surname will negate the feeling among many Hispanics, based on the coarseness of the illegal-immigration debate, that one political party doesn’t much like them, is simplistic at best, insulting at worst. It would be like saying that adding Rep. Allen West to Romney’s ticket would win over African Americans. That theory was tested in 2010, when adding Jennifer Carroll, who is black, to Rick Scott’s ticket yielded the governor exactly 3 percent of the African-American vote — the same percentage of black Floridians who were already members of the GOP.
Read the whole thing here.
Oh and by the way, Rubio still says he doesn’t want it. I know no one in the political world believes that, except of course for me, because I can very distinctly recall all of the Rubio scandals that would re-air in the public vet.