Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 26, 2010

DRIVING AWAY A GROWING CONSTITUENCY, CONT'D.... We talked a few weeks ago about the risk Republicans are facing on immigration politics -- the party feels the need to satisfy the demands of the GOP's far-right base, while hoping to cultivate ties to Hispanic-American voters, a growing American constituency that's often considered a "swing" group of voters.

It's a fine line to walk, and as recent developments in Arizona have shown, Republicans aren't exactly pursuing both approaches with equal care.

We're now starting to see the results. Hispanic voters in Colorado and Arizona, for example, are moving quickly to support Democratic candidates.

Today, a new NBC/MSNBC/Telemundo poll shows a similar trend at the national level, where "Latinos, once a semi-swing group of voters, now have swung overwhelmingly for President Obama and the Democratic Party, and younger Hispanics are moving to the Democrats in even greater numbers."

For example, 68% of Latinos approve of Obama's job (compared with 48% of overall respondents and 38% of whites), and they view the Democratic Party favorably by a 54%-21% score (versus 41%-40% among all adults and 34%-48% among whites). And their views of the Republican Party? In the poll, the GOP fav/unfav among Latinos is 22%-44%.

What's more, Latinos think Democrats would do a better job than Republicans in protecting the interests of minorities (by 58%-11%), in representing the opportunity to move up the economic ladder (46%-20%), in dealing with immigration (37%-12%), and in promoting strong moral values (33%-23%). The only advantage they gave Republicans was in enforcing security along the border (31%-20%). And Latinos remain a sleeping -- yet growing -- political giant: 23% of them aren't registered voters (compared with 12% of whites and 16% of blacks).

As recently as 2004, Bush/Cheney was making real inroads with Hispanic voters, and there was some evidence to suggest the GOP would remain fully competitive with Democrats with this constituency for years to come.

In the years since, the Latino vote went from being up-for-grabs to solidly Democratic -- in large part because Republicans decided to stop trying to reach out.

The GOP can take some solace in the poll results, since they're getting a small bump in support from white voters who like the hard-line approach adopted in Arizona. But over the long term, Republicans have to realize the demographic trends do not work in the GOP's favor.

For what it's worth, Hispanic support for Democrats may fall if immigration reform fails this year, and voters blame the White House (even if it's Republicans and conservative Dems who are responsible for killing the bill).

It creates a very strong incentive for the GOP -- fight like hell to prevent immigration reform from succeeding. If voters blame the president, Republicans win. If voters blame the GOP, they'll be largely in the same position they're in now.

Steve Benen 11:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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We have lots of data on the demographics of D vs R.

Anyone know what the AGE difference is? I betcha the R's are old farts, and the D's are young hipsters. (showing MY age, there. . .)

Posted by: DAY on May 26, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

this old fart is wonderin' why the hell obama is sending the military in to arizona to guard the southern border -- rather than to take' over the state government...

Posted by: neill on May 26, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

The Dems could use that white people bump in the most contested districts. The trick is to get both Latinos and whites on the same page. And the trick, of course, is the economy, stupid.

Posted by: Steve High on May 26, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

We republicans don't need no n*gg*rs and sp*cs! All we need is better voter caging and disenfranchisement of them to keep them from voting. We like our white party and the whiter the better.

Arizona has the right idea. Scare the crap out of the brown people and surround all polling sites with cops to keep them from wanting to go to vote. It is just a shame that more of our white communities cannot have our own Sheriff Joes.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on May 26, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Without taking anything away from the point of the post, I have to say that satisfying the far-right nativists while making the faintest progress with Hispanic-American voters isn't a "fine line," it's an absolute impossibility. They're utterly mutually exclusive.

No amount of dog-whistling or double-dealing was going to paper this over. The nativists are convinced that they are personally threatened with destruction and financial ruin by immigrants and/or Hispanic citizens, so they pay very, very close attention. And of course Hispanic-American voters are neither so stupid nor so culturally inflexible as GOP strategists sometimes hope they are. ("Wait a minute, they're all Catholics, right? Just whip up a "contra el aborto" ad and we'll be fine!")

Posted by: Matt on May 26, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Two words: Prop 187.

That charming little overtly racist California ballot proposition sank Pete Wilson's national career, drove the state Latino population into the Democratic camp, and doomed the Republicans to near-permanent minority status, relevant only because of the idiotic 2/3 requirement for taxation legislation in the Cal state legislature.

They're now a nasty, lily-white, reactionary minority whose power is limited to destructive obstructionism.

Sound familiar?

All I can say is, go Arizona, go Republicans! When you're in a hole, the most important thing you can do is dig like hell.

Posted by: bleh on May 26, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"It creates a very strong incentive for the GOP -- fight like hell to prevent immigration reform from succeeding."

How can that not be a win/win. Let them fight tooth and nail, they really only have one avenue to keep their base content, denigrating immigrants.

They can't win, even if immigration doesn't get passed, the damage they will inflict with Latinos won't be forgotten in November.

Posted by: ScottW714 on May 26, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I was afraid the Democrats would lose when Bush and Rove were courting the Hispanic vote, but once the Republican party firmly tied itself to the ideas of Lou Dobbs and the rest of the nativist media I was able to relax. In the long run a small southern white peoples party will alwasy lose to a large white, black and brown party with a 50 state strategy. Of course, then Howard Dean and the 50 state strategy were dumped. That made me a little nervous. It seems Obama's Democratic party likes pissing away its advantages. Then Arizona passed the "papers, please law" and I am able to relax again. Over time the Republicans will continue to shrink and the Democrats will continue to grow (despite dumping Howard Dean.) Some time being dumb doesn't hurt if your opponent is dumber. The Democrats are lucky, dumb, but lucky.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 26, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

In the years since, the Latino vote went from being up-for-grabs to solidly Democratic -- in large part because Republicans decided to stop trying to reach out.

The Republicans certainly didn't stop reaching out to Latinos. They need to reach out to them in order to slap them. This, they have done repeatedly.


Posted by: Zorro on May 26, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Sir, my message is simple!

Naggers, Jews, Homosexuals, MEXICANS, Ay-rabs, and all different sorts of Chinks stink!

And I hate 'em!

Posted by: Winkandanod on May 26, 2010 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Is this the reason the corporate shill Ken Salazar is still retained as our Secretary of the Interior?

Posted by: berttheclock on May 26, 2010 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, bad for republicans in general...but good for Jeb's son George III.

Posted by: Jim7 on May 26, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

This is primarily why the GOP attacked and destroyed ACORN and why they will continue to purge voter rolls and do everything in their power to disfranchise minority voters, even going as far as preventing them from wearing chicken costumes to the polling place.

Not to derail the conversation, but is it even legal for them to enforce a dress code at the polls? That seems highly unconstitutional to me, but I guess it's not a general election, so I'm not sure the same rules apply.

Posted by: doubtful on May 26, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Dress codes reduce the campaigning inside the polling station. No "Vote Lowden" t-shirts, for example.

Lowden's chicken problem has become such a political point that they had to step in a stop it...

Of course, dressing up like the Chicken Lady from Kids In The Hall may still be allowed.

Posted by: TonyB on May 26, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

The Repiglies are hell bent on whipping up a mass of angry white rednecks and low info voters on election days, thinking they'll more than comp. for disaffected minorities that don't vote enough.

Posted by: delver on May 26, 2010 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Lowden's chicken problem has become such a political point that they had to step in a stop it... -TonyB

I understand the limitations placed on electioneering at the polls, but there should be strict limitation placed on that. The government should not be in the habit of turning citizens away from the polls.

What if the color orange or short skirts became identified with a certain candidate?

Posted by: doubtful on May 26, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

zorro @ 12:06 beat me to it, but once the republican led congress decided to ignore bush's attempts at outreach and redefined "immigrant" as "hispanic" it was lights out for the gop.....

watching the shift in colorado is interesting because that was the only state where mccain did better with hispanics than bush...

repeating myself from previous comments, in florida mccain got the same percentage of the white vote that bush did, but there was a 14 point shift from bush to obama among hispanic voters....without that state, the gop can't get to 270...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on May 26, 2010 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Calderon solves immigration from south of the border.


Posted by: LMMFAO on May 26, 2010 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

The real questions are (1) how will the U.S. function as a one-party state after the Republicans complete their collapse. What effect will all of the former Republicans have once they start voting in the Democratic primary. How does voter turnout change when the primary election is the only relevant election? And (2) what will the U.S. be like in 40 years when whites are in the minority. Will the U.S. still have set asides and affirmative action when Hispanic and blacks outnumber whites? Will the economy be able to produce enough economic out put when the demographic of the U.S. are dominated by poor blacks and Hispanics?

Posted by: superdestroyer on May 27, 2010 at 6:49 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen is SO partisan and immoral he actually thinks it is a good thing for his party to subvert our democracy by luring in millions of illegal aliens and naturalizing them. He should be blogging in some country where his culture of election rigging is normal.

Posted by: Luke on May 27, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

In a couple of weeks moodys will downgrade all of Arizonas bonds, I cannot believe how destructive this bill will be, I would never trade Liberty for Ideology, because without Liberty there will be nothing
Where is the civility?
This shows how stupid laws with bad moral intentions can emotionally and economically destroy a state. These same people are now back peddling making statements such as we should not politicize the issue, or this is a federal issue. Arizonians you were the ones who politicized the issue when you supported this law, maybe you need to think before jumping on a rhino. In addition people have every right to use their economic power when laws are passed that target a specific color, religion, or thought. I feel for the citizens of Arizona who do not support this bill, but the constitutional freedoms that are guaranteed by our constitution are more important than the air we breathe!
I do not think the citizens who support this bill understand how offensive this bill is to the people that it will affect. To some people in our country the constitution consist of the second amendment; I just want to make you aware that there are seven Articles and twenty-seven amendments, and our founding fathers made the constitution almost impossible for us to give up our freedoms so easily, this is not only a bad bill it is Un-American.

Posted by: Luis Perez on May 31, 2010 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK
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