Has Mitt Romney, the U.S. Republican Party’s candidate for November’s presidential elections, given up hope of boosting his dismal standing among U.S. citizens of Latin American extraction? The question arises after Romney’s pick of a running mate of no apparent appeal to Latinos.
Romney’s choice as candidate for Vice President, the ultra-conservative congressman Paul Ryan, is a darling of the Republican Party’s rigidly ideological base but has done nothing that could endear him to the fastest growing segment of the American electorate. On average, around 1,600 Latinos turn 18, voting age, every day and by November 6, some 22 million will be eligible to vote.
Romney is aware of how important their vote will be – in April, two reporters overheard him talk about the subject in a closed-door meeting with donors in Palm Beach. His message then, according to the eavesdropping journalists, was blunt: failure to win over more Latinos “spells doom for us.” Since then, the Romney campaign stepped up efforts to court Latinos with television ads and a Spanish-language website.
That failed to narrow the wide gap in Latino support between President Barack Obama and his rival. In July, the latest in a string of public opinion polls with similar results showed 23 percent would vote for Romney and 67 percent for Obama. While support for Romney has been going down, Obama held steady. The President won 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008.
Romney’s standing among Latinos is the worst for a Republican presidential candidate since 1996 and number-crunching pundits from both ends of the political spectrum have estimated that he would need more than 30 percent of the Latino vote to win. Which makes his choice of Ryan baffling. Of all the potential running mates Romney could have picked from, Ryan is probably the one least likely to draw in Latino support.