Rubio Reality Check

Just recently, I was asked by a reporter whether I thought Rubio would help Mitt Romney get Latino votes this November if he were on the ticket as Vice President. I responded that, nationally, Latinos wouldn’t be impressed, and that we have a strong record of not voting for conservatives just because we share their ethnicity and they look like one of our favorite tias (see Susana Martinez who lost 61% of the NM Hispanic vote in her run for governor). But I conceded that this may not be the case in Florida, and conjectured that his presence on the ballot might play a decisive role in that critical battleground state, at least among Latinos. Well, I stand corrected.

According to recent surveying by Public Policy Polling (PPP) (details for data geeks below), it turns out that Rubio’s addition to the ticket does nada, zilch, nothing to increase Latino support for Mitt Romney among Florida’s Latinos! Here’s why:



We’re Just Not That Into You, Marco

According to the April PPP survey findings (April), while we all agree Rubio’s gorgeous, charming, and smart, Latinos (at least the ones in the Sunshine State) actually aren’t clamoring for Marco Rubio to be “one heartbeat away” from the Presidency. In fact, they don’t really like him as a politico all that much, which helps explain why he wouldn’t give Romney any lift with Latinos.

Among Florida’s Latino voters, only 39% approve of him, while over half (52%) disapprove of him. Given that a strong majority of los Floridianos approve of Barack Obama (62%), it’s not surprising that Rubio is really out of his league when it comes to bringing home the vote of la Gente compared to Obama.

Romney Isn’t Doing Republicans Any Favors, and Florida Hearts Obama

It’s hard to imagine a Presidential candidate who could be more ill-suited to appeal to Latinos than Mitt Romney. Yes, he has a huge family like many of us do. Yes, he’s still married to his “hard working” wife after all these years, and he’s even managed to keep her in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed. If we didn’t know better, we might think they were related to our favorite clan, the Kennedys. And if he’d just apologize for his transgression, maybe we could all forgive and forget about the incident with Seamus, the Romney family dog. But all this only gets you so far when you have no idea what working family or single gal/guy life is like, even on a good day. In our world, the only car elevators are the hydraulic lifts that our Tio Pete used when he worked painting cars at the auto body shop. Where we come from, when the stork drops off that tenth kid, it doesn’t also deliver a check for home remodeling expenses so we can accommodate all of them comfortably. And despite the fact that he has family roots in Mexico, as two-out-of-three Latinos do, Romney squanders this potential point of connection with key voters by offering his “Self-Screw” immigration policy that anybody in her right mind can see as the mean-spirited and race-driven policy that it is. Even those of us whose families were on this side of the border before the line was drawn and who don’t have a personal dog in the immigration fight are offended by his callous and cynical approach.

Given this, it’s no surprise to learn that overall, Floridians of all races and ethnicities favor Barack Obama over Mitt Romney for President. Obama holds a 5 point advantage over Romney in Florida (50-45). Just think how much ground Rubio would have to make up to convince them to drop Obama in favor of Romney.

Is Marco Mitt’s Brown Knight?

The Republicans have invested lots of $$$ in their Republican strongholds in Florida, and we all know that los Cubanos are supposed to be their silver bullet, at least that’s how the stereotypical narrative about our Cuban friends goes. But will they carry the day for Romney? After all, if you read Time Magazine, a bunch of not-so-photogenic dark-haired people and one Chinese American guy (AKA Latinos) will decide who our next President will be.

Since los Floridianos don’t even like Rubio all that much, don’t hold your breath. I already gave away the punch line, but here you go anyhow: When you add Rubio as Mitt’s Veep, Latino support for the Republican ticket… wait for it… does nothing! That’s right. It stays exactly the same with 52% of los Floridianos supporting the Democratic ticket and only 37% supporting the Republican ticket.

And here’s something else. Not only does adding el Guapo to the Republican ticket not help Romney with Florida Latinos, it actually HURTS him with everyone else. With Rubio on the ticket, Romney actually drops from 45% to 43% and Obama remains at 50% among all Floridians.

Now, don’t be surprised the next time you watch the news and hear Rubio’s name spoken 5 times in reference to the Republican VP selection. And don’t get irritated when the pundits go on ad nauseam about how he’ll help garner that elusive 40% of the Latino vote for the Republicans. It’s just that the reporter isn’t aware of the facts. So, do your part to educate people about the Rubio Reality by passing this post along to everyone you know!

Notes on the PPP poll: PPP surveyed 700 Florida voters from April 12-15, 2012. The margin of error for the PPP survey is +/-3.7%. PPP is a Democratic polling company, but polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times found that PPP’s surveys in 2010 actually exhibited a slight bias toward Republican candidates. So, if anything, we might consider these findings to be a bit less favorable to POTUS than they actually are.

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