Alex Massie Alex Massie

Tories and ethnic minorities: lessons from George W Bush

Dan Hannan makes many good points in today’s Telegraph as he considers the Conservatives’ grim failure to attract support from black and ethnic minority voters. This isn’t merely a problem for the Tories, it is a crisis.

As I pointed out yesterday, the Tory share of the BME vote in 2010 was exactly the same as their share of the vote in Scotland: 16%. True, this was an improvement on 2005 when only 11% of BME voters endorsed Conservative candidates but that’s a matter of only modest solace for Tory modernisers.

Naturally (this being British politics) there is a thirst to look elsewhere for examples or lessons that might point towards a solution to this particular Tory problem. Like Paul Goodman, Dan Hannan looks to Canada and not without reason.

Equally reasonably, Janet Daley thinks the party might learn something from George W Bush. This, she concedes, is an unfashionable thought but that’s not something that should bother a Tory.

There is something to it, too. Bush did do better amongst Hispanic voters than did either his predecessors or successors at the head of the Republican ticket. In 2004, quite famously (by the standards of these things) exit polls reported he won 44% of the Hispanic vote.

The trouble is that figure is probably not quite right. Bush undoubtedly did better than most GOP candidates but there is some evidence suggesting he didn’t win more than 40% of the Latino vote. Moreover, Bush benefitted from the Texas factor. He won 43% of the Texas Hispanic vote in 2000 and 49% of it in 2004. Outside his home state he did not do quite as well as the headline, national, figures suggest.

But, yes, it was still progress. Progress founded, as Daley says, on being engaged with latino voters to a degree unmatched by previous or subsequent GOP candidates.

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