Republicans, Guns, and Latinos

romneyhispanicSince last month’s election, many in the GOP have been puzzling their way through the party’s Hispanic nightmare in electoral politics, trying to find a way to reverse President Barack Obama’s overwhelming 40-plus percentage-point landslide among the Latino vote. Now, in the wake of awful circumstances in Connecticut, comes a new surge of interest in gun control as public policy. Republicans, already working overtime to master new political tap dance routines that will avoid offending their gun lobby overlords, now get to confront this charming piece of the puzzle: Latinos love gun control!

As Adam Winkler summarizes in a Daily Beast piece this morning, polls consistently show that more and better regulation of firearms is an issue of some importance to the Hispanic electorate. A Pew Research Center poll earlier this year asked whether it’s more important to protect the rights of American to own guns or more important to control gun ownership. As the chart illustrates, Hispanic respondents were far less likely than whites (and even a bit less likely than blacks) to endorse gun rights as more important than gun control.

pewgunchartAnother survey, conducted last last year by Lake Research Partners for the bipartisan group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, found that a whopping 69 percent of Latino voters want stronger laws governing gun sales, with fewer than a quarter preferring the status quo. More than 85 percent of Latinos in the survey want criminal background checks required for all gun buyers.

With Republicans also finding themselves in the 2012 election on the wrong end of a pretty significant gender gap, it is worth mentioning (even if it goes without saying) that women also favor more regulation of guns over expanded gun rights — by a margin over more than 20 percentage points in the Pew survey.

While there is nothing amusing about the circumstances that have propelled firearms back into the public policy limelight, it will be somewhat diverting to see how the GOP evolves and arranges its Latino/NRA simulpander.

A version of this post appears on the Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind blog.



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