Until now, conventional wisdom held that illegal immigration was a wedge issue that worked to mobilize “the base” in the Republican Party and to hurt Democrats who supported comprehensive immigration reform. This same wisdom asserted that the number of Latino voters who could hold anti-immigrant politicians accountable for their nasty rhetoric was too small to make a difference outside of Democratic strongholds.
Well, if there’s one thing we can all agree on right now, it’s that this election has ripped conventional wisdom to shreds.
A new report by America’s Voice, The GOP: Fenced in by Immigration, details how nineteen pro-reform candidates beat hard-liners in twenty-one battleground house and senate races across the country.
Here’s the essence: swing voters chose candidates that stood up for a more comprehensive approach to immigration reform than their hard-line opponents. Latino voters turned out in record numbers and voted down the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Republican Party. Their participation in the 2008 elections contributed to Senator Obama’s wins in key battleground states like Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Florida, and also helped Democrats win contested House and Senate races in these states and beyond.
Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant forces that have all but hijacked the Republican Party proved to be inconsequential at best, except for their role in potentially driving the GOP into the political wilderness with Latino and New American voters.
As the pundits create the latest conventional wisdom coming out of this historic election, we are left with one question… Anyone have a new wedge issue for the GOP?