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GOP Hostility Toward Immigration Reform & Latino Voters At Odds with Demographic Realities

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Margaret Talbot of The New Yorker: “Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Sloganeering And His Rivals’ Scramble To Keep Up With It Won’t Be Easy To Forget”

One year out from the 2016 general election, the Republican Party has a problem with Latino voters that threatens to make its historically-poor showing with Latinos in 2012 look quaint.

In a must-read new piece in The New Yorker entitled “Harsh Talk” Margaret Talbot captures how the Republicans’ problems with Latinos are getting worse, not better.  She puts immigration reform at the center of this existential challenge for the GOP’s future.  We excerpt Talbot’s piece below, with the full story available here:

Three years ago, after the re-election of Barack Obama, a rueful Republican National Committee launched an inquiry into where the Party had gone wrong … The report offered one specific policy recommendation: ‘We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies.’

None of the current Republican Presidential hopefuls seem to have taken that counsel to heart…

…In the primary season candidates often say things that make trouble for their party in the general election. We’re likely to see an extreme version of that phenomenon this time, above all in battleground states like Colorado, Nevada, and North Carolina, where the winner will need to carry the minority vote. Trump’s anti-immigrant sloganeering and his rivals’ scramble to keep up with it won’t be easy to forget. In 2012, Romney got just twenty-three per cent of the Latino vote. In 2016, the Republican candidate will need to get twice that, according to a recent analysis made by the political scientists David Damore and Matt Barreto. That’s because the Latino share of the electorate has been growing. By 2050, the Latino population in the U.S. is projected to be twenty-nine per cent, up from seventeen per cent today. Republican candidates have often told themselves they have more of a chance of winning Hispanic voters than black voters, finding common ground on social issues.

‘Republicans often seem to think if they could just get beyond immigration issues there’d be all kinds of opportunities for them with Latino voters,’ John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron, says. ‘That’s a little like saying if we could just get beyond civil rights we’d be good with black voters.’

…Before the start of last month’s debate, representatives from conservative Latino groups gathered in Boulder to issue some warnings about what would happen if the Party didn’t distance itself from extreme immigration politics. Their message was of a piece with the 2012 report, but even more blunt. Rosario Marin, who served as the U.S. Treasurer under President George W. Bush, said, ‘Don’t expect us to come to your side during the general election. You are not with us now, we will not be with you then. You don’t have our vote now, you won’t have it then. You insult us now, we will be deaf to you then.” In the meantime—and no doubt especially at next month’s debate in Nevada, a state that is nearly thirty per cent Latino—they will be listening carefully.’