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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Growing Dem Edge With Latinos May Prove Decisive

The news for Dems is very good in Robert Creamer’s HuffPo post “Evidence Arizona Immigration Law May Be Fatal Mistake for GOP.” Creamer, one of the Democratic Party’s more astute strategists, reviews some recent polling data and finds Democratic candidates now even in the Texas gubernatorial race, pulling ahead in the Colorado Senate race and gaining in the contest for the California governorship — all because Republican immigrant-bashing is backfiring in a huge way. Creamer explains:

The passage of the Arizona “papers, please” anti-immigration law has forced Republican politicians around the country into a political box canyon that does not offer an easy escape. For fear of offending the emergent Tea Party – and other anti-immigrant zealots in their own base — they are precipitating a massive realignment of Latino voters nationwide.

Down in red-state Texas:

According to data released by Public Policy Polling (PPP), Texas Governor Rick Perry has lost his early lead over Democratic challenger Bill White and the race is now tied. The movement from a previous PPP poll in February comes entirely from Hispanic voters. PPP reports that:
“With white voters Perry led 54-36 then and leads 55-35 now. With black voters White led 81-12 then and 70 -7 now. But with Hispanics Perry has gone from leading 53-41 to trailing 55-21….there is no doubt the (Arizona) immigration bill is popular nationally. But if it causes Hispanics to change their voting behavior without a parallel shift among whites then it’s going to end up playing to Democratic advantage this fall.”
…As if to sharpen their anti-immigrant brand, last week the Texas Republican State Convention voted for a platform that included a plank calling on the state government to adopt a state law like the one in Arizona.

Up in Colorado:

PPP reports that its latest polls in Colorado show that incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennett has gone from tying his opponent Republican Jane Norton to a three-point lead largely because his lead among Hispanic voters has soared from 12 to 21 points.

And out in the Golden State:

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman felt compelled to back tough anti-immigrant measures to get the Republican nomination. Now her support among Latinos is hemorrhaging, dropping from 35 to 26 points from March to May. Since the primary, Whitman has begun to waffle on her tough anti-immigrant stand but the damage has been done – what’s more, it’s memorialized in videos that Democrat Jerry Brown is sure to loop over and over on Spanish language TV.

Creamer notes that the AZ “Papers, please” law is viewed by millions of Latinos as a direct insult to their personal dignity and “a litmus test that tells a Hispanic voter whether or not a political candidate is on their side – the critical threshold test of voter decision making.” He describes the GOP as playing with “political fire” and “permanent marginality.” Even more ominously for the Republicans, Creamer adds,

A few months ago, no one would have predicted a massive turnout in November among Hispanic voters. That appears to have changed…If a surge of anti-Republican Hispanic voters destroys the careers of enough politicians who thought that pandering to anti-immigrant fear was good politics, the whole political narrative about immigration reform will change.

Creamer predicts that Republicans will try to repair the damage after the elections, to no avail. “…In all likelihood it will be very difficult to get the anti-immigrant toothpaste back into the tube.”

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