In a great piece by Frank Rich in the New York Times, Rich writes:
The one group of Republicans that has been forthright in criticizing the Arizona law is the Bush circle: Jeb Bush, the former speechwriter Michael Gerson, the Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, the adviser Mark McKinnon and, with somewhat more equivocal language, Karl Rove. McKinnon and Rove know well that Latino-bashing will ultimately prove political suicide in a century when Hispanic Americans are well on their way to becoming the largest minority in the country and are already the swing voters in many critical states.
As I wrote in a piece two days ago, Arizona's law could well lead to that state joining the more liberal Pacific states as bedrock democratic electoral votes - as "givens" in presidential elections.
For sure, Arizona will be in play, and the Hispanic bashing xenophobes of the Tea Party and the GOP could deliver other states as well.
Colorado went for Bill Clinton but not for Gore or Kerry - Hispanics helped deliver it to President Obama in 2008. In 1980 it was 12% Hispanic; in 1990, 13%; in 2000, 17%; in 2009 it was projected at 21% - more than enough in a state with strong environmental ethics and white, educated liberals for a strong coalition of Democratic voters to coalesce.
Nevada went to Clinton twice and then for President Bush; the Hispanic population there went from 7% in 1980 to 20% in 2000, and the Census has projected it to be 26% in 2009.
Florida, that bastion of electoral regularity, has moved from 9% Hispanic in 1980 to a projected 21% in 2008. From an analysis on President Obama's inroads with Hispanics, which noted that Mr. Obama won the Hispanic vote in Florida for a Democrat for the first time ever:
In Florida, Obama won 57 percent of the Hispanics on Tuesday, compared to 42 percent for McCain... By comparison, President Bush won 55 percent of the state's Hispanic vote to John Kerry's 44 percent in 2004. Polls indicate the state's Hispanic vote may now be divided. On one side are conservative older Cuban Americans, who vote reliably Republican. On the other are younger Cuban Americans coupled with an expanding number of non-Cuban Hispanics, who tend to lean Democratic."Younger Cuban Americans" are joining their younger Mexican American and Irish American and American American generational members in voting Democratic.
And eventually, states like North Carolina and Georgia, with 5%, and even Kansas, with 7%, may come to have Hispanic populations large enough that canny Democratic candidates could forge winning coalitions. It's not a given, of course, and President Obama and Democratic leaders need to show some courage and get some meaningful work done on immigration reform. But if the Tea Partiers continue to fight a hopeless rearguard action against the changing face of American demographics by vilifying immigrants, then maybe a Democratic President Rodriguez or Garcia or Martinez will be here sooner than we think.
Si, se puede!