The most interesting part of the Mason-Dixon Florida Poll may not be that 59 percent of Republicans there want Jeb Bush to run for president. He was, after all, a successful Florida governor. Rather, two other figures pop out: A large share of the Hispanic vote in both parties (44 percent) and of independents (50 percent) want him to run. It is a telling reminder that saying you want to reach out, after deciding you want to be president, is a far different thing than having an established appeal with non-traditional GOP voters. Bush got 61 percent of the Hispanic vote in his first gubernatorial election and 56 percent in his reelection campaign.
Sen. Rand Paul, Ky., gets applause from the mainstream media (who love his Obama-ish foreign policy and anti-police rhetoric during recent racial incidents) for speaking to college kids, African American students and Hispanics. But he has no record of getting these groups to vote for him. In 2010, he got 13 percent of the African American vote.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got about half the Hispanic vote in 2013 (up from 32 percent in his first election) and 21 percent of the African-American vote (up from 9 percent) as he won reelection in New Jersey.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich got about a quarter of the African-American vote in his last election, up from 8 percent in his first election.
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Sen. Marco Rubio, Fla., got 20 percent of the African-American vote and 55 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2010 Senate race.
And in his last election, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry won 38 percent of the Hispanic vote.
It is noteworthy that, as impressive as some of these figures are, these elections did not take place in a presidential year, when the minority turnout is highest. Whether any of these candidates can hold his own against Hillary Clinton in a presidential contest remains in doubt. But it would seem that if the candidates are going to claim the ability to expand the base, then some record of having done so would be in order.
For a candidate to do well with those not already in the GOP camp, it is not enough to devise a token outreach campaign. You need (literally, in some cases) to speak their language, offer something other than abstractions and anti-government rhetoric and show how what you are offering delivers results for these voters. You cannot offend these voters from the get-go with your tone or rhetoric, or they won’t wait around to hear the rest of the pitch.
Excerpted from washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn
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