The least diverse primary elections in America are now history. Next up after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are Nevada and South Carolina, followed by the Super Tuesday slugfest on March 1. It is in these upcoming primaries — not the ones in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states with the highest percentage of white voters in the nation, and few Latinos — where Hispanics will decide whether to repeat history and Republicans whether to ignore it.
Republican candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire competed to demonize Hispanics. Trump may have infamously labeled Mexicans criminals and rapists, but his rivals were not far behind. Jeb Bush railed against “anchor babies,” Ted Cruz saluted Trump for focusing on illegal border crossings, and Marco Rubio scrambled to compensate for his earlier support of comprehensive immigration reform.
These slights were not emotional outbursts uttered in the heat of the electoral moment. They were part of a strategy designed to appeal to an anti-Hispanic base in two states where the candidates could assail Hispanics with little fear of retribution. Latinos represent only 2.2 percent of eligible voters in New Hampshire and 2.9 percent in Iowa, while the percentage of whites exceeds 90 percent in both states and is the highest in the nation.
But the demographics of the Republican primary and beyond are about to change. Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, the next round of primaries have high numbers of Latino voters.
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