Evangelicos: A Way Back for the GOP

Before Republicans can win evangélicos over, they have to know who they really are.

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The Latino Reformation
Marco Grob for TIME
Can Latino evangelicals help Republicans take a bite out of the Democratic advantage with Hispanic voters?
Maybe. As my cover story “The Latino Reformation” this week suggests, Latino evangelicals are a group that has strong conservative social values—meaning the Republican Party should find them very attractive. They prize the nuclear family. They are largely against abortion and gay marriage.  They also tend to be wealthier than Latino Catholics, and they are more likely to have been born in the United States.

It is a point that Michael Warren of The Weekly Standard explored a couple weeks ago. Republicans have lost a net 30 points among evangélicos since the 2004 presidential campaign. George W. Bush got 69% of the Latino evangelical vote in 2004, and Mitt Romney only had support of 39% of Latino evangelicals in 2012. Warren argues that Republicans should see this as an opening:

Somewhere in the party’s long tradition, there are principles and policies that can attract a group that values family, community, and the church. A party that can win Hispanic evangelicals might be one that can combine pro-family tax policies, pro-growth economic policies, traditionalism on social issues, and a realistic immigration policy.

What I learned after spending time in Iglesias in Chicago and the far suburbs of Washington is a little more complicated than that. But Warren is on to something. But before Republicans can win them over, they have to know who the evangélicos really are. That is what we explore in the magazine this week.