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Republicans At War on Immigration—Here's Why

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Cross-Posted at Huffington Post:

Earlier this week, the organization I head, America’s Voice, released a new report entitled, “The Power of the Latino Vote in America: They Tipped Elections in 2008; Where Will they be in 2010?”

The detailed findings highlight the many potential benefits – and potential perils – for both major political parties. The report tracks 40 races for 2010 in 12 states—29 U.S. House races, 8 U.S. Senate races and 3 gubernatorial races—and shows that Latino voter turn out as well as the candidates’ positions on immigration reform will a huge impact on the outcomes.

One finding is that Democrats have to deliver on their promises of change – on the economy and immigration – or risk a depressed base. To wit, just last week Mark DiCamillo of the highly-regarded Field Poll in California found that Senator Barbara Boxer’s reelection could be in serious jeopardy if Latino turnout is low this November.

Republicans also face a steep challenge when it comes to Latino voters, and we are seeing this play out as a virtual war within the party on immigration.

The way immigration has been handled by most Republicans has badly damaged the GOP brand.  And while immigration is not the number one issue for most Latino voters, it is a defining issue.  So much so that an overwhelming 87% of respondents in a 2009 Bendixen poll said they would not consider voting for a candidate who was in favor of forcing most of the undocumented population to leave the country and only 23% trusted congressional Republicans to “do the right thing on the immigration issue.”