Skip to main content

(L-R) U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) attend a news conference on comprehensive immigration reform at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 28, 2013.   REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Sens. John McCain, Chuck Schumer, and Marco Rubio discuss their vague-ish "framework" for immigration reform.
Republicans can't win a national election given their demographic problems. Per 2012 exit polling, whites made up 72 percent of voters and Mitt Romney won them by a dominant 59-39. Yet President Barack Obama won reelection by an easy four points.

So Republicans don't need to win the Latino vote, they just need to dig into that massive 44-point Democratic advantage. But as I've noted before, it's hard to play nice with Latinos when signing on to comprehensive immigration reform would mean 13 million new Latino voters, or a net eight million new Democratic voters. Remember, Obama won the 2012 elections by five million.

So there is little incentive for the GOP at large to indulge in any reform effort. While standing in the way of reform would cost Republicans more of what little Latino support they retain, the alternative isn't that much more palatable.

But while the party at large isn't much interested in reform, there are individual Republicans who won't survive future elections without winning a greater share of the Latino vote. Let's go below the fold to see who these potential targets might be.

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, who was narrowly elected last year, has gone from talking about "amnesty" and opposing the DREAM Act, to suddenly sounding conciliatory on this Senate proposal. He lost Latinos by 40 percent. In six years, a repeat performance would spell certain doom.

Indeed, two of the four Republicans hammering out the bipartisan "framework" are from Arizona (John McCain and Jeff Flake), while Florida's Marco Rubio is both looking at his own state's demographics, and at a potential national run. Both of those would require significant Latino support. (South Carolina's Lindsey Graham is more worried about the national party's prospects than his own. He's an anomaly.)

Utah's Orrin Hatch has been okay on the issue in the past, and the Mormon church is at least good on this issue. Utah, in fact, is quite tolerant of immigrants. Ted Cruz in Texas is an unreconstructed teabagger and has been strategizing with hardliners on the issue, but John Cornyn has been more outwardly flexible.

Georgia is 8.8 percent Latino, North Carolina is 8.4 percent—both will be competitive enough that the Latino vote can make a difference, hence putting pressure on their Republicans (Johnny Isaakson and the retiring Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, and Richard Burr in North Carolina) to vote the right way. Mark Kirk in Illinois will face an uphill fight no matter what, so he better not further alienate his state's 16 percent Latinos (and Asians, too).

And while Latinos aren't a huge percentage of the populations of Ohio (3.1 percent) and Pennsylvania (5.7 percent), the competitive nature of both states should give both Rob Portman and Pat Toomey reason to think twice about lining up on the wrong side of this issue.

That makes 10 Republicans who would have a selfish reason to buck their party in support of reform, plus Graham. There may be a handful of other yes votes from the GOP, perhaps Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, maybe Susan Collins. Who knows. I wouldn't count on it. But there is certainly room to get to 60 even with expected Democratic defections.

The same concept would hold in the House—find those Republicans who represent districts with heavy Latino (and/or Asian) presence and pressure them to vote for reform. In years past, this notion might be a pipe-dream with little chance of success. Maybe it's a pipe dream this year! But given the clusterfuck of a caucus that Speaker John Boehner has in his hands, there may be a chance yet, particularly if Democrats promise to throw extra drones at the border. Republicans really like drones at the border.

Originally posted to kos on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 03:49 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site