With the primary results of Super Tuesday propelling former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney into a comfortable lead in the race for the Republican nomination, it is becoming increasingly clear that he will carry the torch in the race against the Democratic incumbent, President Barack Obama. However, Romney still has problems convincing enough social conservatives to cast their ballots for him.
Since 423 delegates out of 1,144 are needed to win the GOP nomination, and since his nearest competitor, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, has won 169 delegates, there is no question that this race is becoming a race for second place, thus forcing Romney’s hand in selecting the runner-up as his running mate to avoid a convention disaster between the GOP establishment and conservatives.
As of now, conservatives have to choose between Santorum and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who trails behind with 118 delegates. And with the Southern primaries coming into full swing in the next few weeks, we may very well see a momentum shift from Santorum to Gingrich, but only if Gingrich can continue raising funds well into June.
For Latino conservatives in particular, the choice of deciding whether to cast their vote for Romney, Santorum, Gingrich or Texas Congressman Ron Paul will be monumental, given that Hispanics as a whole are now the nation’s largest minority group. Hispanic conservatives make up over one-third of the Hispanic vote in general elections.
A look into the recent past provides clues as to the gravitational force of the Hispanic vote. In the 2000 presidential race, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush carried 35 percent of the Hispanic vote, and increased that margin by 10 percentage points in 2004 against Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, according to political strategist Dick Morris.
Al Cardenas, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which held its annual conference last month, stated, “Our nation is seeing a growing number of Hispanic conservative voices, and more Hispanic conservative leaders are being elected.”
Truer words were never spoken.
By guest contributor, Lee Anthony Nieves, a former political aide to both New York City Mayors Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg. A conservative-libertarian and a screenwriter, Mr. Nieves currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and two young daughters.