Former Florida governor Jeb Bush will be a “special guest” speaker at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference convention at the end of April. Bush, who is exploring a run for the White House, will attend the convention in Houston.
Also expected to attend are Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez, conservative minister Harry Jackson, and televangelist James Robison. Here’s a flyer for the event:
Bush is a fluent Spanish speaker and has suggested he would work hard to campaign for Hispanic votes if he wins the Republican nomination. Data on Hispanic voter preferences suggest the evangelical cohort may be as good a place as any for the GOP to start:
Two 2011 studies showed a particularly stark gulf between Hispanic evangelicals and white evangelicals on the issue of the size of government. While a majority of white evangelicals (71 percent to 20 percent) say they prefer a “smaller government providing fewer services” to a “bigger government providing more services,” Hispanic evangelicals flip those numbers: Seventy-six percent prefer a bigger government, with only 20 percent preferring a smaller government. On that question, Hispanic evangelicals are more in line with Hispanics in general, who overwhelmingly prefer bigger government.
As for party preference, the 2007 Pew poll found 37 percent of evangelical Hispanics identify themselves as Republicans and 32 percent as Democrats. This was the only faith group among Hispanics that preferred the GOP. Going beneath the topline numbers, country of origin also plays a large role in party identification among evangelicals. Fifty-two percent of Puerto Rican evangelicals identify as Democrats and only 18 percent as Republicans, while 19 percent are independents. Among all Hispanics, Puerto Ricans are one of the most Democratic groups (48 percent), trailing only Dominicans (50 percent) in their preference for the Democratic party. Puerto Ricans are also concentrated in the liberal northeastern states of New York and New Jersey, which suggests Puerto Rican affinity for the Democrats may have a regional ingredient. Puerto Ricans are also concentrated in South Florida, where the prominence of the heavily Republican Cuban-American establishment may influence their political affiliation, regardless of religious tradition.
On the other hand, 47 percent of Mexican evangelicals are Republicans, and only 24 percent are Democrats, with 19 percent identifying as independents, even though only 14 percent of Mexican Catholics and 19 percent of Mexicans in general are Republicans. South American evangelicals, taken as a whole, are split, with 38 percent supporting the GOP, 33 percent supporting the Democrats, and 24 percent identifying as independents.
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