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.
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.