Anti-immigration stand will hurt GOP

August 30, 2010


Republican Party candidates who won Tuesday’s primary elections have gone so far to the right on the immigration issue, that they may have shot themselves in the foot.

Look at what happened in Florida and Arizona, the two states with heavy Hispanic populations that held primary votes Tuesday for November’s midterm congressional and gubernatorial elections.

In both states, some of the most closely watched Republican primaries were won by hard-liners who support Arizona-style anti-immigration laws, or by moderates who shifted to the right and backed tougher anti-immigration laws shortly before the vote under pressure from the conservative wing of their party.

How are these Republican candidates going to woo Hispanic voters in November?

Granted, Hispanics nationwide vote heavily Democratic — President Barack Obama won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008, and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had won 59 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 — but Republican candidates in most of the country’s largest states can’t win without a sizable minority of the Latino vote.

You don’t have to be a political wizard to figure that Democrats will put out ads in Hispanic media in coming weeks painting Republicans as the anti-Hispanic party that wants to enact Arizona-styled laws throughout the country and that is calling for denying U.S. citizenship to U.S.-born children of undocumented residents. And they will have plenty of primary-race TV footage to back up their claims.

That’s bound to energize Hispanic voters to get out to the polls and vote Democratic in November, when the Obama administration will desperately need them to avert a possible Republican takeover of Congress.

The Arizona law — temporarily suspended by a judge — demands that local police arrest people suspected of not having immigration papers after making a lawful stop. It has triggered widespread fear that police will stop anybody looking Hispanic, including U.S.-born Latinos.

One of the key winners of Tuesday’s primaries was Florida’s Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott, who — in part thanks to his hard line on immigration — defeated Attorney General Bill McCollum. Scott, a healthcare mogul who spent $50 million of his own money on the campaign, strongly supported an Arizona-style law for Florida.

In addition to his other troubles — his company was involved in one of the country’s biggest health care fraud scandals and paid $1.7 billion in fines — Scott will find it hard to win a substantial minority of Hispanic votes, without which he is unlikely to win the general election, Democratic strategists say.

“The Republican Party has gone so far to the right on immigration, that you can’t get elected in the primaries without taking a position on immigration that’s anathema in the general elections,” says Democratic pollster Fernand Amandi. He adds that while more than half of Americans support the Arizona law, more than 60 percent support a comprehensive immigration reform that would include some kind of path toward legalization for undocumented immigrants.

In addition to energizing Hispanic Democrats, the Republican candidates’ pro-Arizona stands in the primaries may lead many Hispanic Republicans to stay at home in November.

McCollum, who was backed by the national and state Republican establishment, may have lost the Republican primary race precisely because he embraced the Arizona law. That may have led him to lose key Hispanic support in Miami-Dade County.

Key state Republican leaders such as former governor Jeb Bush, or Miami Reps. Ileana Ross Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz Balart did not actively campaign for McCollum among their Hispanic constituencies, according to some Republican strategists.

As a result, the overall turnout in heavily Hispanic Dade County — a McCollum stronghold — in Tuesday’s primary was only 17 percent, against a statewide turnout of 21 percent, they say.

“The worst mistake in McCollum’s political career was the ridiculous political ploy of presenting an Arizona-like law two weeks before the election,” says Republican fundraiser Ana Navarro. “It was seen as pandering to the right wing, and it turned off Hispanic voters.”

My opinion: While polls show that Republicans will do well in November because of the country’s overall unhappiness with the economy and high unemployment, the anti-immigration rhetoric will cost them many Hispanic votes.

I, for one, will find it hard to vote for Republican candidates unless the party abandons its one-sided immigration stance. The Republican Party has done serious damage to itself, and it will have a hard time undoing it, even if it tries to shift to the center between now and November.

— Andres Oppenheimer is a Latin America correspondent for the Miami Herald. aoppenheimer@miamiherald.com


jaywalker 7 years, 9 months ago

Might help if the press would use the correct terminology, but then that would be inconvenient, wouldn't it?

cato_the_elder 7 years, 9 months ago

Another absurd headline. Anti-immigration? Hell no. Anti-illegal immigration? You bet.

Anyone out there know what happens to people who enter Mexico illegally from Guatemala? Check that out sometime.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 9 months ago

Illegal immigration is not a new problem, Native Americans used to call it White People.

jaywalker 7 years, 9 months ago

Did they now? And which tribe enacted that law?

geekin_topekan 7 years, 9 months ago

I dunno, the stance of "legal" immigrants on "illegal immigrants" is about as fiery as any nascar/W. supporter's stance.

Go and visit any cowtown or central Iowa farming community and see how the local, long-time Hispanic population feels about illegals. You may be surprised what you find.

Make them ALL "legal" I say. Make them pay taxes and tax money headed out of the country. Problem solved.

geekin_topekan 7 years, 9 months ago

Hope and Change-->apples an oranges. Or better yet, what the h you talking about?

Off the top o' me 'ead. I would suggest an across-the-board approach. End cuts to the uber rich because Reaganomics is a proven failure, and bring about the equality that Beck proposes. I keep what's mine but at the same time I pay my dues, as should you.

monkeyhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

"One of the key winners of Tuesday’s primaries was Florida’s Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott, who — in part thanks to his hard line on immigration — defeated Attorney General Bill McCollum."

Why did the Latin America correspondent fail to report that McCollum proposed a bill very recently that was similar to Arizona's?

"I think when we're done passing this law, Arizona is going to want our law," McCollum said during a news conference with several Republican state lawmakers. "They're going to want to pass our law because we're better, we're stronger and we're tougher and we're fairer." http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/aug/11/112126/mccollum-proposes-immigration-bill-similar-arizona/news-breaking/

( He also lied about previously saying Arizona's bill was "far out".) Truth is that people are sick of incumbents, regardless of who endorses them. It's time for the political lifers to understand that the people are going to think for themselves - including Hispanics.

monkeyhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Guilty of not reading further through this yellow puke of an article, but my last paragraph stands.

Jimo 7 years, 9 months ago

"the anti-immigration rhetoric will cost them many Hispanic votes."

A dozen comments in and not one substantive comment on the article's claim - just a lot of passing of wind.

jaywalker 7 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps because the article's claim is fallacious. There is not "anti-immigration rhetoric" out there to discuss. There's a lot of anti-ILLEGAL-immigration talk in the wind, and a couple have pointed that distinction out here. Unfortunately, that mistake (or purposeful obfuscation) has been all too common lately. I reckon that fact, along with the knowledge that the majority of Hispanics already vote the Dem ticket, make Oppenheimer's claim more of a waste of time than worthwhile for comment.

Jimo 7 years, 9 months ago

"the anti-immigration rhetoric will cost them many Hispanic votes."

The GOP historically attracts quite a few Hispanic votes. Attracting Hispanic votes has been the number one (realistically, the only) minority outreach program the GOP has had. And all is headed down the toilet now.

It's increasingly unclear how the GOP plans to assemble a majority when their only voters are white, rural, aging Christians. How do you expect to win nationwide votes when you've offended every minority group in the country?

jaywalker 7 years, 9 months ago

1) What's that quote supposed to signify? Are you just emphasizing the author's mistake or do you THINK that's a rebuttal of some sort? 2) The GOP historically gets little minority support, I don't know where you're getting that they "attract quite a few Hispanic votes" from. It certainly wasn't from the article:

"Granted, Hispanics nationwide vote heavily Democratic — President Barack Obama won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008"

3) I have no idea how THEY are strategizing, but it's rather amusing for you to question how THEY could win a majority as if they've never done such before with the same demographic.
And the "you" and "you've"......... ya talkin' to an invisible friend?

Jimo 7 years, 9 months ago

Errr....the core claim of this article. Duh. Why do I get the impression that reading comprehension wasn't your best subject? (Or did you just not read the article?)

Bush got 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Hispanic voters literally make or break GOP hopes in places like Florida (pro GOP) or California (anti GOP). Hispanic voters are also quite conservative, in some ways more conservative than white voters.

"President Barack Obama won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008"

I thought you disagreed with this article - and then you go and provide evidence to support it! If you piss on the Hispanic vote, you won't get the Hispanic vote, and you'll lose. It's not that difficult to grasp.

"Same demographic"

One that literally dies day by day, growing ever smaller. Heck, the 2010 census is expected to show that Los Angeles is majority Hispanic for the first time since the Mission Era. The era of rural white Christian America has already passed but some still believe they can "restore" it. Nope.

You don't have to be a Palinite to see white-America disappearing before your eyes. Or Karl Rove for that matter to see that the GOP must gain a substantial share of Hispanic votes to win a national vote (and getting more desperate with each passing election).

jaywalker 7 years, 9 months ago

"Errr....the core claim of this article"

I'm the one that can't read and comprehend???? My initial post pointed that the 'core claim' -- the very one you quote --- is fallacious. There is NO anti-immigration rhetoric, the issue is ILLEGAL immigration. Apparently you have the same disfunction as Oppenheimer.

"I thought you disagreed with this article - and then you go and provide evidence to support it"

First of all, it's obvious "thought" has not been utilized for any of your responses. No, I did not disagree with the article. I disputed it's fallacious claim as I've done above. Again. Second, that quote wasn't used to "support" the article. It was used to dispute your claim that the GOP relies heavily on the Hispanic vote.
If you're gonna attempt to ridicule someone in the future, it would be best if you didn't exemplify that which you attempt to insult with. Since that's probably too difficult for you to understand, that means your reading and comprehension deficiencies are showing.

"You don't have to be a Palinite to see white-America disappearing before your eyes."

Wow. Pretty sure that more than 70% of America is made up of caucasians, but then who cares? Why is skin color important to you, Jimo?

Jimo 7 years, 9 months ago

Making declarative statements isn't an argument, it isn't reasoning. Total fail. Start over.

"the anti-immigration rhetoric will cost them many Hispanic votes."

If you have an argument to make, make it. Otherwise, stop yapping.

Jimo 7 years, 9 months ago

Wow. Mid-afternoon and still no substantive commentary.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 9 months ago

What do the right wingers propose to diminish the illegal employers and illegal jobs these immigrants cross the border for?

If you had unlimited ability to tackle the problem, would you build a fence and chase the individuals flooding across the border to take these jobs, or would you attack the magnet drawing them across?

Why are illegal employers never mentioned by the right wingers who constantly go to this issue at election time?

Who benefits from a reliable pool of labor who cannot protest when mistreated?

Who is harmed by the existence of this pool of labor in our country?

jaywalker 7 years, 9 months ago

"Who is harmed by the existence of this pool of labor in our country?"

Taxpayers, school systems, hospitals, essential services like law enforcement, prison systems........... And their are laws on the books for all the employers of illegals in every state, scott. We have ways of going after them, just not the source of the problem.

independant1 7 years, 9 months ago

Who is harmed? Also those seeking entry level and esp teenagers. We aren't using laws on the books to do anything substantive about problem.

Ilegal immigration is rampant, no meaningful incremental steps are being utilized.

Latest attempts stymied fence, boots on the ground, AZ state law.

About the only thing being done = talk problem enough things will be swell. We're really good at that. Too bad there aren't loudspeakers along the border.

independant1 7 years, 9 months ago

A conservative proposal ( what's the Liberal/Prog suggestion box got in it?) -

Various estimates put the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. between 10 and 20 million. One argument says we can't round up and deport all those people. That argument differs little from one that says since we can't catch every burglar, we should grant burglars amnesty. Catching and imprisoning some burglars sends a message to would-be burglars that there might be a price to pay. Similarly, imprisoning some illegal immigrants and then deporting them after their sentences were served would send a signal to others who are here illegally or who are contemplating illegal entry that there's a price to pay.

Here's Williams' suggestion in a nutshell. Start strict enforcement of immigration law, as Arizona has begun. Strictly enforce border security. Most importantly, modernize and streamline our cumbersome immigration laws so that people can more easily migrate to our country. (Walter Williams)

Jimo 7 years, 9 months ago

I guess your proposal is predicated on the idea that there isn't now "a price to pay". Considering that every "illegal" immigrant must risk everything everyday, I'd say they risk paying quite a lot. Seriously, how would you like to be a 20 year old brought here when she was 10 and be deported back to a country you have no connection to or experience in?

"Imprisoning some"

Sorry? Who, oh who, is "broke" and "can't pay more taxes" etc.?? Only in America is useful government work despised, mocked and feared but worthless government work growing by leaps and bounds despite already being more extreme than any other place on earth.

Here's a counterproposal: admit as legal immigrants 100% of those sought by employers leaving 0% of the "illegal" immigrants with jobs. Heck, you can even make a choice WHICH 'Jose' you want to admit (vs. the present situation of the bad 'Jose' self-selecting himself for your neighborhood). Just pick "legal Jose" with the clean criminal and drug record and say no thanks to "illegal Jose" and his grand theft record. Upshot: BILLIONS saved in trying to control a border that has never been controlled. Further upshot: "legal Jose" can come and then go home back to the family there that he doesn't have to bring here.

This seems about the only thing we agree upon - although I'm 100% certain of those on here demanding that they are NOT anti-immigrant would find all manner of excuses to stifle such an approach.

independant1 7 years, 8 months ago

Any strategy or change with a modicum of common sense that moves away from the chaos of illegal entry and toward a sane policy is sorely needed. The strategy/policy must reward good behavior (legal entry) and not reward bad behavior (illegal entry).

The current head in sand chaos carries a high price.
Price - upholding despotic economic/poilitical status quo of the sending countries - drain on usa economy - human cost (exploitation of the illegals in transit)

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