Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Republicans and Latino voters

A number of times I’ve written that we shouldn’t assume Latino immigrants vote based on immigration issues, so there won’t necessarily be an exodus from the Republican Party. Given recent events, however, I’ve been pondering this more.

--Fred Thompson “called for stripping federal funds from cities and states that do not report illegal immigrants and criticized Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney for allowing so-called sanctuary cities in New York and Massachusetts.” He did this because “Party officials in key primary states said yesterday that the candidate who can win voters' trust on immigration could make significant gains.”

--RNC Chair Mel Martinez resigned the position. The Bush administration had put him there to counter the image of being anti-Latino, but Martinez supported comprehensive immigration reform and became frustrated at the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the party. “Mel Martinez was a symbol of the party's outreach to Latinos, and that seems to be disappearing," said Lionel Sosa, a longtime Republican strategist and advisor to GOP presidents since Ronald Reagan. ‘It is not a good day for Latino Republicans, that's for sure.’”

--Michael Chertoff says the administration will ignore laws potentially blocking construction of a border fence. Doesn’t matter what laws stipulate, doesn’t matter what judges say. The REAL ID Act of 2005 allows the executive branch to move forward no matter what.

The Republican Party is becoming even more anti-Latino than I anticipated, since increasingly candidates feel immigration is the only issue that gets the Republican base energized. What I really don’t know is where the tipping point might be. Many Latinos like the Republican Party for other reasons (social issues, etc.) but at what point is the rhetoric so incendiary that they a) don’t vote; or b) vote Democratic in protest?

At least at the national level, the Democratic Party is only barely more pro-immigrant (or seems more talk than action) so it’s not clear how much it would benefit. It might if Latinos either vote Democrat because it’s the least bad option, or if they’re focusing more on local issues, where I think (anecdotally) that Democrats have been more active in engaging the Latino population in a positive way.


Miguel Centellas 11:05 AM  

I wonder how much of that is Fred Thompson and others on the more "nativist" right, as well as primary talk. If it's harsh enough, it could drive Hispanic/Latino voters away into the Democratic camp. But if Giuliani or others more on the "social left" of the party come out against Thompson, that could change. I'm not yet ready to use Fred Thompson as an indictator for where the whole Republican field is going.

Greg Weeks 11:10 AM  

I don't think I am either--that's why I used several different (admittedly anecdotal) examples. Given the current climate, however, I'd be surprised if Giuliani challenged Thompson on immigration.

Boli-Nica 5:22 PM  

a recent poll among latinos nationwide found a majority thought anti-latino feelings played a significant role in the anti-immigration campaigns. Many people who responded this way were hardly open-border advocates. Significant numbers also agreed that illegal immigration was a problem.

And this crossed group/geography too. It includes not only majorities in california or texas, but also South Florida (i.e. Cubans & Central/South Americans).

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