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PSN on November 16, 2006 - 10:16am
For years, Latinos have been among the most important swing bloc of voters in the country. While typically breaking for Democrats, Republicans knew that with the right campaigning, they could perform well among this large and growing demographic group. In 2004, exit polls showed Bush receiving as much as 44% of the Latino vote.
Oh, what a difference xenophobic policy makes.
It should have surprised absolutely nobody that Latino voters would swing hard against Republicans. The swing appears to be roughly 15%, so that the GOP averaged 30% or less of the Latino vote. Immigration, which Republicans thought was the new guaranteed wedge issue, ended up backfiring.
In fact, two candidates in Arizona who ran almost exclusively on anti-immigration went down to defeat, as they lose the votes of both Latinos and Anglo voters turned off by harsh rhetoric that bordered on racism.
Immigration policy still is a tricky spot for Democrats, who seem to have trouble heeding the better angels of their nature. The reality, though, is that there are clear progressive solutions that are popular with voters and that also actually solve the underlying problems of immigration, ultimately defusing the political issue: reform America's trade policies, protect labor rights for all workers, and shut down the illegal economy.
If Democrats can heed their progressive inclinations, they are likely to find it quite possible to please the electorate on immigration policy without stooping to failed xenophobia of the right.