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2016 Shaping Up to Make Romney/Republicans’ 2012 Disaster Look Quaint
Washington, DC— Later this morning, Mitt Romney is set to blast Donald Trump and weigh in on the state of the 2016 Republican primary campaign. If Romney’s comments touch upon immigration, we should all pay special attention. After histerrible performance with Latino voters in 2012, Mitt Romney is the leading expert on how Republicans can mishandle the immigration issue by lurching right in the primary and destroyingthe GOP’s general election chances in the process.
Unfortunately for the GOP, the 2016 election cycle could well make the 2012 disaster with Latino voters look quaint. Trump’s racist rhetoric and radical proposals are inflaming the nativist wing of the GOP and have pulled the entire Republican Party to the hardline right on immigration.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “Mitt Romney has first-hand knowledge about the general election dangers of anti-immigrant politics. Until Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign emerged, Romney’s 2012 campaign was the gold standard for how to mishandle the immigration issue and drive one of the fastest-growing demographic group of voters into the arms of Democrats. Trump has managed to make Romney’s 2012 disaster look quaint.”
During the 2012 Republican primary season, Romney called for the “self-deportation” of 11 million undocumented immigrants,pledged to veto the DREAM Act, and endorsed the Arizona crackdown on immigrants as a model for the nation. Romney’s former campaign manager and the infamous RNC post-election autopsy report each highlighted how Romney’s immigration positions adopted during the primary were a key factor in driving away Latino voters, who ended up supporting President Obama by a whopping 75%-23% margin over Romney in the 2012 general election, according to Latino Decisions Election Eve polling (71%-27% in media-sponsored exit polls).
Now, instead of Romney’s self-deportation, the GOP frontrunner is openly calling for the forced removal of every undocumented immigrant and millions of American citizen children, all within 18-24 months. Last fall, Romney himself expressed concern that Trump had, “[B]rought attention to [immigration] in a way that was not productive and not appropriate in saying the things he did about Mexican American immigrants,” and expressed concern that the broader discussion of immigration and immigrants on the Republican campaign trail may lead “some minority populations” to say: “‘Wow, I guess they don’t like me very much.’”
Given the increase in the number and share of Latino votersexpected to vote in the 2016 general electorate, Latino Decisions estimates that the Republican nominee will need to win between 42-47% of Latinos to win the 2016 presidential popular vote. Meanwhile, a recent Washington Post/Univision poll of Latino voters found that 80% of Latinos have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, with 72% saying “very unfavorable.” Meanwhile, the general electorate as a whole stillstrongly supports policies allowing undocumented immigrants to stay legally over deportation-focused approaches, in sharp contrast to Trump’s vision of mass deportation.
Concluded Tramonte, “With Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, the Republicans will have profound difficulty up-and-down the ballot in attracting Latino, APIA, and other voters close to the immigration debate who emphatically reject the overt nativism coming from the presumptive leader of the GOP.”
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