Why Romney Lost Hispanic Vote: One Coloradan’s View

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A Hispanic delegate holds a sign at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa.

Cleaning out our e-mail of 2012 election-related stories that we stashed away for future reference — and, we must confess, usually forgot — we came upon a New York Times piece published March 16 with the headline “G.O.P. Strategy for Hispanic Voters: It’s the Economy.”

Datelined out of the working-class city of Pueblo in southern Colorado, the story by Kirk Johnson said that with Hispanic voters “poised to become a deciding factor in several crucial swing states, Republican leaders think they have found a fresh approach” to winning their support — an appeal to their “growing distress over the sluggish economic recovery.”

That approach was targeting “people like Arnold L. Gallegos,” a “committed Democrat all his life” who “as a struggling small-business owner” found that his political loyalties were wavering, the story said.

Well, as it turned out, Gallegos ultimately wavered not at all.

“I went Democratic all the way” in the Nov. 6 election, he told us this week when we phoned him at the shuttle van company he operates. And his comments about what swayed him provide a personal look at why Republican Mitt Romney lost 71 percent of the Hispanic vote to President Barack Obama — and with that the election.

“I gave it some thought,” Gallegos, 67, said of supporting Romney. “I was having some doubts” about his allegiance to Democrats, he added, “because nothing was going my way for my small business.”

He was especially concerned about rising gasoline prices cutting into the profits he makes mainly from shuttling customers to and from the airport in Colorado Springs, about 45 miles north of Pueblo. His worries eased as fuel costs stabilized. Meanwhile, Romney failed to win him over.

“I got the idea he’s mainly for his type of people, which is the wealthy,” Gallegos said.

An Obama campaign operative couldn’t have put it better.

Also music to the ears of the White House should be Gallegos’ support for the key distinction Obama drew between himself and Romney during the campaign — the difference the president is stressing to congressional Republicans as he pushes allowing tax rates to rise for more affluent Americans as one way to reduce the federal budget deficit.

“I still feel the upper class ought to pay their fair share, like we do,” Gallegos said in siding with Obama.

With the help of voters such as Gallegos, Obama carried Colorado and its nine electoral votes, 51 percent to 47 percent.

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