Driving away a growing constituency

DRIVING AWAY A GROWING CONSTITUENCY…. Republicans officials are well aware of the fine line on immigration politics — satisfying the demands of the party’s far-right base, or cultivating ties to Hispanic-American voters, a growing American constituency that’s often considered a “swing” group of voters.

It’s become apparent that the GOP isn’t walking this fine line very well.

Many Hispanic-Americans say they feel stung by a law they allege invites racial profiling, incites hatred and discriminates against all Latinos.

The law in Arizona was passed by a Republican legislature and signed by a GOP governor. Republican lawmakers in Texas, Utah and several other states have said they would consider introducing laws similar to the one passed in Arizona.

Conservative Hispanic voters, in particular, say they feel betrayed by Republican Party leaders who have supported the law.

Texan Massey Villarreal, the former chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, , said, “It’s insulting to have Republican leaders across the country applauding this racist law. I’m sure this is going to hurt the Republican Party.”

That’s a reasonable prediction. Indeed, the electoral consequences in the near-future may prove to be significant — Latino voters are the fastest growing demographic group in the country, and as recently as 2004, the Bush/Cheney ticket’s success suggested Republicans were making gains with this constituency.

Those GOP gains are now fading very quickly, giving Democrats a possible boost, particularly in states like Arizona, New Mexico, California, Texas, and Nevada.