Even though President Obama dominated the Latino vote in 2008, walloping John McCain 67 percent to 31 percent, this year's crop of Republicans aren't deterred, and have long hoped to make gains with Latinos, especially as Obama is plagued by his tough deportation policy and failure to deliver on a campaign promise of immigration reform. And yet, in a bid to win over the anti-immigration conservatives who vote heavily in GOP primaries, the party's presidential candidates have staked out hardline positions that could turn off Latino voters in November. Frontrunner Mitt Romney went so far as to suggest that Arizona's controversial immigration law should go national. Polls suggest that these far-right messages are driving Latino voters back into Obama's arms. Are Romney and Co. dooming their party to "a chillier reception" than ever from Latinos this November?
Yes. The Latino exodus is Romney's fault: Mitt didn't stop at embracing Arizona's divisive immigration rules, says Glenn Thrush at Politico. He also endorsed the "polarizing philosophy of 'self-deportation,' the idea of making life so inhospitable to illegal immigrants" that they have little choice but to flee. Is it any wonder Romney only has the support of 14 percent of Latinos? That's half of John McCain's 2008 total, and a mere one-third of George W. Bush's Latino support in 2004. Unless Romney can bring these voters back, he simply can't beat Obama.
"How Romney lost Latinos"
Blame the entire GOP, not just Romney: Mitt is not "the main culprit in the GOP's terrible standing with Latinos," says Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect. In fact, "it's the other way around" — "Latinos are alienated from the Republican Party as a whole, and Mitt Romney is taking the heat." Polls show that every "GOP candidate does poorly with Latinos." The best Republicans can hope for is a low Latino turnout, but their fierce "anti-immigrant antagonism" has given Latinos a huge incentive to vote in November.
"Blame it (on the GOP)"
Regardless, this is a hugely troubling problem: Things are particularly bad for the GOP in Florida, where Obama clobbers both Santorum and Romney among Latinos, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. The president's whopping lead with such a huge voting bloc in a key swing state is among Republicans' "most worrisome" red flags heading into November. The GOP simply must do something to patch things up. It's extraordinarily difficult to win the presidency without winning Florida, and it's awfully hard to win Florida if its Latino voters see you as the enemy.
"Rasmussen: Obama edging Romney, Santorum in Florida"