By Isabel Matos

It used to be that Cuban-Americans voted almost exclusively for Republicans.  It was a vote always counted on by the Republican Party, but the results of recent polls conducted by Bendixen Amanda regarding the Cuban-American vote are telling quite a different story.  And they are raising a multitude of questions which have the GOP doing a lot of “splaining” these days.. more like spinning.

Local pollsters appeared on Spanish television on Tuesday (I have been tuning in lately just out of curiosity) to explain why Romney lost the Hispanic vote to Obama. Their answer (in part)? They insist that the core Hispanic support consisting of Cuban-Americans in communities such as Westchester and Hialeah is still over 50% Republican.  “Ay que bueno”, right?  Not.

The problem with that answer is that the 58% figure is down almost 30% from 1988 when the Republican party had just finished a second term by Ronald Reagan.  Who can get past those numbers without asking, Why the dip?  Please allow me to briefly answer the question so as not to waste any of your time with denial of or rationalization of the stats.  It is NOT because of the change in Hispanic demographics.

It’s because of your message and your candidates, GOP!

Since George H.W. Bush ran his campaign on “personality” instead of a true conservative message in 1988, we have not seen one true Republican candidate.  That has nothing to do with immigration trends. If it did, you would think Hispanics who left countries because of big government dictatorships would continue voting overwhelmingly Republican.  The fact is that the
GOP lost 7% points of the anti-communist Cuban-American vote to Obama this year alone.
That is huge.  Miami is where I live.  We have had a long struggle with communism and a history with not just the Bushes, but many other Republican presidential candidates who visit us over the years to court our coveted vote.  Cuban-Americans (in general) have traditionally wanted to see candidates express a tough stance on communism as well as the dictator on the island. Candidates  drop an expression or two in Spanish, sip the cafecito and get the must-have photo-op at Versailles. If they are lucky, they get escorted by the community leaders who effectively and cheerfully connect them to voters.
Times have changed
Even though the issue of communism is still important, there is a disconnect, and the message being presented is either confusing or not resonating with voters.
I am going to go out on a limb and bring up immigration.  Amnesty is a pesky little issue. It is a touchy  and complicated subject that the GOP thinks it can outsmart the left on.  A book on “Immigration Reform” is coming soon.  From what I understand, it is by JeB Bush.  I am sure it will have some merit, and I can’t wait to read it (I am being sarcastic of course), but it shows how preoccupied the GOP is with the subject matter.  It has been engaged in pandering for those votes for years while ignoring the key issues the Republican Party should be proud of.
We did not lose the Hispanic vote because of Immigration
The GOP needs to understand that we did not lose the Hispanic vote in 2012 because of this issue.  We lost because Romney did not connect with voters and because he did not make the case against illegal immigration well enough, among others.  The left is masterful at making Republicans look like a mean, anti-immigration party that it is not.  “Reform Conservatism” will not bring the voters back.
If any silver lining could be found from the results of the 2012 election, is that even though Jeb Bush has had a long history in this community, it should not automatically make him the next uncontested frontrunner for president in this community by virtue of that criteria alone.  The fact is, we could use a breath of fresh air around here!  And there is a window of opportunity for someone to come in and really WOW the new blood, not just the traditional base.
Real reform turns voters on!
Unhappy Republican Hispanics were turned off at the polls for reasons we may never know.  But it would be safe to say that voters, irrespective of ethnic background, would welcome a clear articulation of conservative principles including small government, personal responsibility, a secure border and a thriving American economy, and if they don’t, why do we want them as constituents in our party?  Fresh, bold ideas excite, as do charismatic  messengers who deliver them.
I understand each group is different, but I am proud of my family’s work ethic. They sacrificed for what they have.  Immediately upon our arrival here, we were more than happy to receive a simple welcome kit with some toiletries.  We were grateful!  The huge welcome and big deal treatment was more than enough.  We were given access cards to a distribution center where we could get items such as canned peanut butter, canned meat (like spam), powdered milk and rice that were donated by stores.  We accepted the assistance for one month until my mother found a job.
What has been lost is the meaning of assistance.
Focusing on those who want what this country has to give them, and not those who are willing to sacrifice or be grateful for what this country inspires them to do is a mistake.  One thing to welcome a group of people coming into a new country who are grateful for the opportunity,  and quite another to pander to them just for a vote without any guarantee they will return the favor.  All voters see right through this.  They know that you are trying to be like the other side, but have not made your case that you are better.

What is in our Pledge of Allegiance, is Justice, not Amnesty for all!

The bottom line is, no matter how much they try to figure things out, the GOP always comes up with anything BUT the right answers for the problems we face.  I don’t even think that they have identified what the problem really is! If you don’t know what the problem is, how are you supposed to solve it?  As long as the GOP tries to beat the Democrats at the game they play best, GOP will be sure.    There’s a simple saying that I learned in high school and it goes like this:

You may not always be the best by being yourself, but you will always be second best by being somebody else.     
GOP: You’re trying to be Santa, and only Santa is Best at being Santa!

And now for the results from a Bendixen Amanda poll following the election on November 6th, 2012:


Overall                  ROMNEY   52%     OBAMA   48%

Absentee B          ROMNEY   74%     OBAMA   26%

Early voting        ROMNEY   54%     OBAMA   44%

Day of election   OBAMA     53%     ROMNEY  47%


2012 –         REPUBLICAN  58%   DEMOCRAT  42%

2008 –        REPUBLICAN  65%   DEMOCRAT  35%

2004 –        REPUBLICAN  71%    DEMOCRAT  29%

2000 –        REPUBLICAN  75%   DEMOCRAT  25%

1988 –         REPUBLICAN  85%   DEMOCRAT  15%

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