Have we ever seen a case in recent history of a party taking such careful aim and shooting itself in the foot? This one perhaps is one for the political ages:
New poll numbers really seem to bear out the fears of some Republicans: The GOP’s quasi-opposition to Sotomayor seems to be hurting the party among Latinos in a big way.
The latest numbers from the nonpartisan Research 2000 for Daily Kos find that only eight percent of Latinos view the party favorably, while an astonishing 86 percent view it unfavorably.
That’s a real shift from what were already pretty bad numbers from before the Sotomayor nomination, when 11% of Latinos viewed the GOP favorably, and 79% viewed it unfavorably.
One of the big stories today is that Republicans are realizing that there’s no political percentage in fighting the Sotomayor nomination. It’s striking that Latino opinion about the GOP is dropping so fast, even at a moment when GOP opposition to Sotomayor appears to be flagging, as opposed to intensifying.
There are several implications in this for the GOP.
The obvious one is the steady loss of a Latino vote that many GOPers had hope to start to increase.
Next, there are the issues still on the table that could do further damage to the GOP such as immigration reform (which may not be a prize winner for the Democrats, but it is likely to hurt the GOP more with Latin voters).
But the most significant implication is this: Hispanic voters are a growing force and potential swing voters in some key states. This means that even if the Obama rose has started to wilt so that a few months from now his approval ratings go south and he loses a good chunk of support, he will have been gaining support among a key voting block that has clout now in key states and will more clout in years have more in years to come. In several ways these numbers are bad news for the GOP.
But there’s no sign of any effort to try and reverse this trend just yet.
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.