With Rubio or Without Him, Latinos Don't Like the GOP

Despite his constant claims that he isn’t seeking a spot on the presidential ticket, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was in Pennsylvania yesterday, campaigning with Mitt Romney:

Marco Rubio took the stage with Mitt Romney and delivered what the presidential candidate wanted — a jolt of energy aimed at an uninspired Republican base and a message of inclusion to Latino voters, who have drifted away from the party in droves.

Monday’s appearance by Rubio, a Florida senator and possible vice presidential pick who has become one of his party’s most prominent Latino leaders, drew cheers and applause from the crowd. But it was also a reminder of competing imperatives facing Romney after a combative primary season in which he moved far to the right on illegal immigration, a key concern for many Latino voters.

I’ve said this before, but as vice-presidential speculation heats up, it bears further repetition: Marco Rubio might be a talented politician, and he might even be a good vice president, but there’s little evidence he’ll help win Latino voters for Republicans. According to the latest national survey from Public Policy Polling, Rubio’s favorability with Hispanics is 35/42, a deficit of seven percentage points. What’s more, Romney’s support among Hispanics is virtually unchanged, regardless of whether Rubio is on the ticket. With the Florida Senator as a running mate, Romney wins 32 percent of Hispanic voters to Obama’s 67 percent. Without Rubio, Obama’s margin grows to 68/30. In other words, at best, Rubio holds Obama to his (outstanding) 2008 performance among Latino voters.

The most Rubio could do is energize Republican base voters—who seem to love him—but even that isn’t much of an advantage; conservative anger towards Obama is so fierce that they’ll turn out, regardless of who Romney chooses for the vice presidential nomination. Indeed, Romney would do well to heed the recent advice of Dick Cheney, who cautioned against “political” picks for the vice presidency:

Citing the “talking heads” who suggest that Romney must choose “a woman, an Hispanic” or a somebody from a swing state, Cheney urged the presumptive GOP nominee to ignore such talk and make a governing pick. […]

“The single most important criteria has to be the capacity to be president,” said Cheney. "That’s why you pick them. Lots of times in the past that has not been the foremost criteria.

Yes, Cheney led George W. Bush’s vice presidential search and eventually chose himself, but this is excellent advice. Not only does an experienced, “governing” choice show seriousness, but it could enhance Romney’s administration in ways he might not expect. To wit, Cheney was skilled in the use of bureaucratic power, and used it to great—if mostly nefarious—effect. If I really thought I had a chance at becoming president, that’s the kind of pick I would make.