Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Newsweek: The GOP may erase the gains it's made with Hispanics

It's been an interesting phenomenon to watch in Virginia: the badly fractured and insecure Republican Party of Virginia has been flailing around for an issue that will unite and energize their base. For many Virginia Republicans, that issue is immigration. But could this strategy backfire?
. . . Sosa, who last worked for Bush in 2004, has also been dismayed by the way many GOP candidates have handled the illegal-immigration issue, advocating policies like building a border wall and employing rhetoric that he says is venomous and xenophobic: "It's just an exaggerated, unfriendly position that needlessly turns away Latinos."

That stance appears to be the root cause of a Hispanic migration from the GOP. In 2004, Bush got about 40 percent of that bloc—a high that largely resulted from an intense courtship by Bush and the now departed strategist Karl Rove. Yet in the 2006 midterms—held after a caustic immigration debate in Congress—GOP candidates got only 30 percent of that vote. Polls this year show Latino support for Republicans at similarly depressed levels. That doesn't bode well for the party, since Hispanic registered voters should hit 11.4 million in '08, compared with 7.5 million in '00, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). Moreover, they live in swing states like Nevada, New Mexico and Florida, where they could determine an outcome. "I am worried," Rove told reporters after leaving the White House in August. "You cannot ignore the aspirations of the fastest-growing minority in America."[1]
It should be noted that many American citizens of Hispanic descent live in Virginia's "swing districts," most notably in Northern Virginia. It will be interesting to see how the actions of Republican activists and the Republican Party of Virginia in Northern Virginia, some of which could be interpreted as both "venomous and xenophobic," will impact the RPV's control of the General Assembly in 2007.

One thing is certain, their activities have given encouragement to some very unsavory characters.

Photo Credit: The photo above is of President Clinton and his Latino appointees in 1998.

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