From the Latin America Advisor:

Q: Last month, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich hosted a two-day forum in Washington in an effort to create a 'conservative dialogue' about domestic and regional affairs that concern the Latino electorate. The event is part of a larger GOP effort to appeal to Hispanic voters. Will Republicans be successful in their attempt to reach out to Latinos? How might the increased attention on the Hispanic population affect Republicans' agenda on Capitol Hill? In what ways would a heightened focus on the immigration debate and other issues of regional concern affect relations with Latin American countries?

A: Louis DeSipio, associate professor of political science and chair of Chicano/Latino studies at University of California Irvine: "Since the early 1970s, Republican leaders and the national party have sought to win a higher share of Latino votes. With the exception of Cuban-Americans, however, they have been largely unsuccessful in increasing the Republican share of the Latino vote (which is usually between 30 and 35 percent in national elections and in most states outside of Florida). There are three reasons for this continuing failure, all of which are likely to remain for the foreseeable future. First, the issues that have dominated the Republican agenda over the past several decades and the issues of importance to Latinos differ. The Latino issue agenda focuses on ensuring that immigrants and others excluded from U.S. society can incorporate into the mainstream. This requires state investment in education, social services and public safety; Latinos are willing to increase taxes to ensure that these services are available. These are not positions that create natural alliances with the Republicans. Second, Republicans have few Latino officeholders in state and local office, so when Latinos enter the electorate and look for Latino leaders, they almost always see Democrats. Finally, state Republican parties and Republican candidates seeking election do not necessarily share the national party's commitment to Latino outreach and regularly introduce campaign issues that mobilize the Republican base at the expense of potential Latino support. Restrictionist immigration policies, such as California's Proposition 187 or Arizona's SB 1070, build Republican majorities in the short term, but sour their relations with potential Latino voters in the long term."

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