Which is precisely why (a) we need to hurry up and pass immigration reform, say Republican reform fans, and (b) it’s pointless to think passing immigration reform will help us politically, say Republican reform critics.
By “tilt,” Gallup means a reliable ~52/21 Democratic/GOP spread among Latino voters of all ages, which I’d call a heavy, heavy lean. I’ll defy my eeyorish nature for once, though, and showcase the good-ish news from the poll for righties:
OIder Latino voters are a lost cause but younger Latinos might be in play. Offering a limited amnesty, like DREAM, in exchange for border security is something the House should look at. On the other hand, Gallup claims that Obama’s approval rating among Latinos aged 18 to 29 is … 72/17, the highest among any of the four age demographics. How “independent” are young Latino independents if they think The One’s doing a dynamite job to the tune of net +55 approval?
Another question. Which side is more likely to get credit if immigration reform of some sort passes? No way to tell for sure, but here’s what Gallup found in a separate poll when they asked voters which party is closer to their views on the subject:
Only among older whites does a plurality endorse the Republican position (or what they imagine the Republican position to be), and it’s not even a wide plurality. That’s significant because you’re virtually guaranteed to see more Democratic votes for whatever emerges in Congress than you are Republican ones; at the very least, the eventual compromise bill will be deeply bipartisan, which gives voters who identify with the Democratic position on reform no real incentive to break with them. Maybe you’ll move a few people into the “neither” category. The flaw in the GOP’s master plan to rebuild goodwill with Latinos is that, to really make an impression in the teeth of numbers like this, they’d have to be even more ostentatiously gung ho for amnesty than Democrats are, which would be difficult even if they didn’t have a conservative base holding them to the right on border security. As it is, even if the House passes something, it’ll be via a divided Republican caucus and will certainly be more modest in legalization than the Senate bill. If you’re going to pander outright for votes, you need to go all out, especially if you’re facing a heavy partisan disadvantage. They’re not going to do that — it’s too risky to House incumbents from red districts — in which case how deeply will the big immigration outreach effort really penetrate these demographics, especially if/when it all ends with Obama holding a televised signing ceremony with himself as the star?
The other possibility here is that the numbers on immigration are to some extent byproducts of how different groups feel about Democratic and Republican policies generally. Build some goodwill with them in other ways and that’ll make them identify more with your immigration position, at least to the point of not treating it as a dealbreaker. Michael Warren has a nice piece about that at the Standard vis-a-vis Republicans in the southwest succeeding in heavily Latino districts. The first rule of politics is showing up. Obama understands that. How many national Republicans do?