Our Quote of the Day comes from MSNBC’s First Read on the census data, the booming Hispanic population and the problems — and challenge — this now poses to the Republican Party:
The single most important 2012 political story: It’s not in Iowa:… it’s not in Washington. It’s happening every single day in America: the growth of the Hispanic population. Latinos made up half of all U.S. population growth in the past decade, by far the fastest growing group. Hispanics have nearly doubled to make up 16% of the country. We’ve said it here before, and now with the new Census numbers out it’s worth repeating: Latinos are already a serious political force in America and their influence will only get bigger. And that could be problematic for Republicans on a presidential level, because overwhelmingly right now, they prefer Democrats. Obama won Latinos 67%-31% in 2008, and they made up just 9% of the electorate. In the 2010 exit polls, when Republicans swept Democrats out of the U.S. House, Hispanics still preferred Democrats by a similar 64%-34% margin. And they made up just 8% of the electorate. In fact, look at the states out West with large Hispanic populations and how Democrats performed out West vs. the Midwest. In states with high Hispanic populations, Democrats were able to keep their losses to a minimum, holding on to Senate seats in Colorado and Nevada, keeping California fairly blue and holding on to House seats in Arizona they should have lost. As one Republican operative said to us in April 2010: “We have problems, clearly, with Hispanics,” the operative said. “If we do not manage an immigration bill appropriately, and we alienate Hispanics, Obama’s going to run up his numbers in the 70s [with Hispanics]. That is not a sustainable model to win.”
This will be extremely difficult to do given pressures from the Tea Party Movement. Attempts are on to pass an Arizona type immigration law in some other states and in all of these cases the most prominent players in the headlines pressing for these laws are Republicans. Years ago you could argue that what happened in one state wouldn’t be publicized as much so it wouldn’t have national impact. But on this issue the stories get play and Hispanic organizations make sure they are not forgotten. Republicans will walk a tightrope on this issue…and a shaky one at best.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.