Mitt Romney’s campaign has set a precise target for the share of the Hispanic vote it needs to win to defeat President Obama: 38 percent.
That’s a significant step up from the 31 percent of the Latino vote won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whom Obama thumped while winning a number of key states where Hispanic voters are an important constituency, including Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.
Romney has to do better than McCain, and his advisers have set a goal that is just below the approximately 40 percent share of the Hispanic vote President George W. Bush won in 2004.
“Our goal is to do better than four years ago and the McCain campaign did—our goal is to hit 38 percent with the Hispanic vote,” said Jose Fuentes, a co-chairman of Romney’s Hispanic leadership team and former attorney general of Puerto Rico. “That’s our goal. That’s our national average.”
Polls suggest Romney’s magic number with Hispanics might be a tough mark to hit. Obama led Romney 67 to 23 percent with Latino voters in a poll conducted in late July poll by NBC News, The Wall Street Journal and Telemundo.
Obama’s executive order to halt deportations on certain undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at a young age also helped improve his standing with some Latino voters and undercut a push by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to craft a GOP alternative version of the DREAM Act. Romney was left holding the bag, struggling to explain whether he’d uphold the executive order.
Romney’s party isn’t helping him. On Tuesday, the GOP platform committee added tough language to the official party position that says laws like Arizona’s tough measure should be “encouraged, not attacked.”