Victory on Arizona Immigration Law Could Cost Republicans in the Long Run
If the Supreme Court rejects the Obama administration’s challenge to the Arizona immigration law, the ruling would be widely viewed as a victory for the Republican Party, whose leadership spearheaded the law in the state and championed its spirit nationwide.
But at what cost?
Vindicating Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration could embolden other Republican-led states to pass similarly tough laws — as Georgia, Utah, Indiana, Arizona, and South Carolina have already done - and further the perception that the GOP is hostile to immigrants, and indirectly, to the Hispanic community.
That would put the party on the wrong side of demographics. Hispanics comprise the fastest growing share of the U.S. electorate and wield the power to swing elections in key battleground states, including Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Virginia. These states helped put Obama in the White House and will determine the majority party for decades to come.
“For the long-term political health of the Republican Party, it’s absolutely critical that we do substantially better among Hispanic voters,” said GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who has done surveys on immigration issues. “Numbers don’t lie, and the numbers are clear: The percent of the electorate that is white is declining — and declining rapidly. If we had the demographics in this country in 2008 that we had that we had in 1980, John McCain would be president of the United States.”