In other words, the most bigoted Hispanics were no less likely to vote for Barack Obama than the most tolerant Hispanics. Among whites, antiblack attitudes almost always led to a vote against Obama.
"Racial resentment, or animus, while not altogether absent among Latinos, did not play a meaningful role in shaping their preferences in the 2008 election," Segura and Barreto wrote in Latino America.
Myth #2: Hispanics are religious conservatives, ripe for GOP appeals. The authors' polling suggests that Hispanics are generally less likely to support abortion rights than whites, but only by a margin of about 10 percentage points. On marriage equality, Hispanics are at least as supportive, and in some cases are more liberal than whites.
But these aren't issues that generally determine how Hispanics vote. When asked to name the two "most important" problems, the combined total for all moral/values issues never rises above 3 percent. In a December 2011 study conducted by the authors, overwhelming majorities of Hispanic voters said they don't want ministers giving them political direction; don't want politicians relying on their personal religious beliefs; and think politics should focus on economic kitchen-table issues, not social issues.
In other words, like on matters of race, Hispanics hold strong views about social issues, but don't predicate their votes upon them.
Myth #3: Hispanics are "self-reliant" conservatives, ripe for GOP appeals. Nearly three-quarters of Hispanics tell pollsters that if minorities don't do well, they have only themselves to blame. Among whites, voters sharing that view almost always support small-government conservatism. Not so among Hispanics.
"In fact," the authors write, "though a significant majority of Latinos express support for self-reliance, supermajorities of Latinos also reliably embrace a greater role for government. Latino Americans evidently see no contradiction of the two views."
Hispanics tend to believe that government growth is a consequence of big social challenges, and they trust government more than the free market to improve the lives of Americans. Furthermore, Latinos are more supportive than whites on guaranteed jobs, reducing inequality, education spending, and environmental spending.
Myth #4: The GOP can't win Hispanic votes, so why pass immigration reform and create more Democratic voters? In addition to President George W. Bush's success among Hispanics, the authors point to their own data showing that about half of Hispanic registered voters have voted Republican at least once. They could do so again—but there's a huge caveat.
If the GOP manages to settle the immigration debate in a way that satisfies Hispanics, more than 60 percent of Latinos are willing to listen to Republicans on other issues. About 45 percent said they would think more favorably of the GOP.