Political Animal


March 19, 2012 8:38 AM Romney’s Hollow “Latino Win”

By Ed Kilgore

So in the least surprising development of the 2012 GOP presidential nominating contest, Mitt Romney won the Puerto Rico primary yesterday, winning a majority of the vote and sweeping all 20 delegates.

In a textbook example of attempted overinterpretation, Romney had this to say about the win:

“Those people who don’t think that Latinos will vote for a Republican need to take a look at Puerto Rico,” Romney said from a suburb north of Chicago. “I intend to become our nominee and I intend to get Latino voters to vote for a Republican and take back the White House.

Yeah, right.

Puerto Ricans voting in a Republican presidential primary are pretty likely, all other things being equal, to vote for a Republican in that primary. That candidate was also pretty likely to be Mitt, who endorsed statehood for Puerto Rico (a popular cause for Republican-leaning Puerto Ricans in particular), was in turn endorsed by the governor, and who was one of two hopefuls to actually campaign there. The other was Rick Santorum, who showed up just long enough to offend everyone in sight by saying Puerto Rico must make English a “primary language” before being considered for statehood.

So Mitt was going to win this primary. The idea that this is some sort of harbinger of Mitt-o-mania among Latinos is ludicrous.

As citizens of the United States, Puerto Ricans are the Latino group least likely to care about the immigration issues that many others Latinos care deeply about, and on which Romney has deliberately positioned himself a bit to the right of Jimmy Dean Sausage. And while Romney did well among the sizable Puerto Rican vote in Florida, again, that’s limited to those participating in the Republican primary. He’s not going to carry Florida’s Puerto Ricans in November, and the best he can hope for among Latinos generally is a relatively non-catastrophic loss.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ron Byers on March 19, 2012 9:04 AM:

    Yawn. Isn't this race over yet?

  • Danp on March 19, 2012 9:05 AM:

    He’s not going to carry Florida’s Puerto Ricans in November

    and he's not going to win Puerto Rica's Puerto Ricans in November either, because they can't vote.

  • Stetson Kennedy on March 19, 2012 9:16 AM:

    Obama gained 3x the votes Romney did in 2008, and the primary took place AFTER Obama had clinched the nomination. Context matters.

  • Ron Byers on March 19, 2012 9:20 AM:

    Ed is doing better than Benen this morning. Benen's post is about his favorite Republican Senator John McCain's 64th appearance on Meet the Press, a record by a mile. There have been hosts with fewer appearances. Now that he is working for MSNBC Steve can't say anything except to note the appearance.

  • Hedda Peraz on March 19, 2012 9:21 AM:

    "Latinos" come in may flavors, like "Orientals"

    "Yes, but they all look alike, and I'm running for president, for Pete's sake!"

  • Tom on March 19, 2012 9:46 AM:

    I'd like to see a reporter press Romney on the "English" issue. Does he believe that English should be the official language? Does he believe that Puerto Ricans should have to speak English if they want statehood? Certainly much of the American Republican base would like to see that. Romney got a free pass on Santorum's flub, but how would he handle this issue?

  • biggerbox on March 19, 2012 11:20 AM:

    "Jimmy Dean Sausage"?

    I'm sorry, I don't keep track of the political positions of commercial breakfast food products. Just where is Jimmy Dean Sausage on immigration? I presume to the right of, say, Eggo Waffles, but in general I thought breakfast food products were neutral on the issue.

    I'm trying to picture Romney deliberately positioning himself at the breakfast table. Wouldn't "a bit to the right of Jimmy Dean Sausage" put him closer to the Aunt Jemima Syrup?

    So confused...

  • Andrew Sabl on March 19, 2012 11:27 AM:

    I noticed that too. It's a great-sounding expression but I'm wondering where it comes from.

    A quick search reveals "to the right of Jimmy Dean sausage" having been used a few times—but always by Ed (e.g. here:
    and here:

    Ed, care to enlighten us on where you got it?

  • exlibra on March 19, 2012 11:50 AM:

    [...] Mitt-o-mania among Latinos [...] -- Ed Kilgore

    There'll never be a Mitt-o-mania among Latinos (or any other group, for that matter) due, in part, to Mitt's mythomania. (Weird. My Oxford dictionary says it's a perfectly good English word -- I looked it up -- but my 'puter thinks it's not. In Polish, it's even better, because we spell "myth" as "mit", thus Mitt is a "mitoman", engaging in "mitomania")

  • Crissa on March 19, 2012 6:58 PM:

    How many Republicans are in Puerto Rico, anyhow?

    ReCAPTCHA has given me a bit in arabic to translate. It looks like a smileyface. Great.

  • JR on March 19, 2012 8:23 PM:

    Crissa- There's not a great understanding of the differences between Democrats and Republicans in Puerto Rico. The current governor and congressmen both belong to the New Progressive Party yet Gov. Fortuno tends to back Republicans like Romney, while Rep. Pierluisi supports Democratic candidates. The republican primary was mostly met with a big yawn in PR, with only a small percentage of the population participating, because it's not like they can vote in the general election anyway.