Took years not months.
Nine years ago Rick Scott, then a Florida businessman, sat down with a group of self-described jaded Republican strategists to discuss what it would take for him to run for governor.
“You are not going to get anywhere with Hispanic voters, but we’ll try,” said Wes Anderson, founding partner and pollster for OnMessage Inc. (where my co-author Brad Todd works), who was explaining what voters were available to a Republican to win.
“Rick Scott looked at us and just shook his head. He said, ‘I reject your dismissal of Hispanic voters. We are going to pursue them, and we’re gonna pursue them hard,’” explained Anderson.
“He flat-out rejected that there was this big chunk voters that you can just write off and you’re never gonna get,” Anderson said.
It is a rejection every Republican candidate running for office should emulate.
Scott, who won by about 1/10 of a percentage point over incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, did so despite suffering the same poor performance among suburban voters all Republicans did. He made up for that shortfall with his healthy support among Hispanic voters for his win.
Scott won 48 percent of the Hispanic vote, just about the same portion he won in his two gubernatorial victories.
Anderson said OnMessage conducted a post-election survey just among Florida Hispanics for their own contemplation: “Every time we win in a state we do a post-elect so that we can figure out what we did right, and what we did wrong, and what we need to do for the future.”
In an exclusive to the Examiner, OnMessage released the findings of its post-election survey of 1,014 Hispanic Senate election voters that was stratified to reflect turnout.[…]
What is his message to his fellow Republicans who often struggle with Hispanic voters, especially as the debate in Washington heats up over border security and what to do with illegal immigrants, especially given the sentiments expressed at the end of the survey?
“I think what we have to talk about is what people care about. They care about security. I don’t meet people that don’t want border security. And I’ll talk to anybody, right?” he said.
“People want a secure border, and they want everybody to have the same chance. And we want it to be fair. And I agree with them. And so what we’ve got to talk about is the dream of this country, which I lived. From public housing, getting to go build companies, be governor now senator. You’ve gotta talk about, ‘I want that for you. And I want that for your children, and I want that for your grandchildren.’ And it’s gotta be sincere,” he said.
Anderson said his biggest takeaway from the survey is this is a result of eight years of showing up. “That is not six months of showing up, that’s eight years of showing up and speaking Spanish the best you can,” he said. “You don’t get to that level where a Republican sitting governor has 58 percent of Hispanic voters saying that he cares about them without doing that.”