Monday, June 17, 2024

Harsh Immigration Stance Will Not Win Support of Latino Voters in Key States

The support of Latino voters in key states will depend on how a candidate tackles the top rated issue among Latinos, comprehensive immigration reform, in upcoming midterm elections.

“Political analysts agree that how a candidate talks about immigration—or tries to avoid the subject—will go a long way in determining the level of Latino voter support in key states,” says Gebe Martinez, Senior Writer and Policy Analyst in a column published by the Center for American Progress Action Fund last week.

Martinez says the Latino electorate is increasingly being alienated by those politicians taking a harsh stance on immigration and talking negatively against immigrants or those who might look like immigrants.

“Politicians are again being reminded that the harshest rhetoric on immigration does not always win the approval of voters who prefer solutions to the broken immigration system,” Martinez said.  “If they ignore the warnings, backlash will come from Latino voters in the November general election.”

Martinez highlights last week’s GOP gubernatorial primary in Florida as an example of the Latino backlash.

“Latinos’ alienation is so great that one prominent supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, Republican lobbyist Ana Navarro, surveyed the remains of Florida’s primaries and wondered whether her party could recover by November,” Martinez said.

Even Latino voters in Miami-Dade County, where Republicans usually have a stronghold among Cuban-Americans, stayed away from the polls last Tuesday after the top two Republican contenders for the governor’s seat raised the anti-immigrant rhetoric “to new heights.”  Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum alienated the Hispanic leadership he initially had the support of, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, after unveiling legislation in his state similar to Arizona’s SB 1070.  McCollum ended up losing to his opponent Rick Scott.

In the case of Arizona, it may mirror the situation that followed conservative politicians in California after the state implemented an anti-immigration law in the 90s, says Martinez.  The GOP in California suffered at the ballot box for years, a lesson Republicans in the state have not taken lightly.

“Conservative political strategists understand the equation: a campaign without Latino support in key states equals defeat,” Martinez said. “But the candidates themselves are just beginning to understand the math, despite years of forewarnings.”

Center for American Progress Action Fund


  1. Even in the Land of SB 1070 the harsh and hateful anti-immigrant candidate JD Hayworth lost…albeit to a flip flopping John McCain