Latino Evangelicals

In today's Sacramento Bee, Aurelio Rojas has an instructive profile of Samuel Rodriguez, Assembly of God pastor and head of the 18,000-member National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference--the go-to guy for presidential candidates interested in courting the Latino evangelical vote. Rodriguez is excruciatingly even-handed in his comments, finding a nice thing to say about all remaining contenders. Lurking not far beneath the surface is the problem the immigration issue has posed for the GOP. If the failure of the comprehensive immigration bill broke Rodriguez's heart, the embrace of anti-immigration politics by Republicans will only send his flock into the Democratic camp--where they swung in the last election (see here). In the 2002 congressional vote, Protestants who are neither white nor black (i.e. Latino evangelicals for the most part) split slightly in favor of the GOP. In 2004, they broke 58 percent to 42 percent for the GOP. But in 2006, they went Democratic, by better than 53 percent to 47 percent. This is not a a huge portion of the electorate--between three and four percent--but in heavily Latino swing states like Arizona and New Mexico and Colorado and Nevada, it can make a difference.