Republicans had high hopes of eroding President Barack Obama’s dominance among Hispanic voters in 2012 — so great was Latino frustration with Obama’s tough deportation policy and his failure to fulfill the promesa of immigration reform.
Instead, with eight months to go before Election Day, Obama is on pace to match the 67 percent support he got from Latino voters in 2008 — and the GOP may be undoing a decade of work to attract Hispanics, thanks to its election-year rhetorical sprint to the right on immigration, a charge led by front-runner Mitt Romney.
Romney — who needs to bolster his support among tea-party conservatives — hasn’t merely embraced the controversial Alabama and Arizona immigration laws, as most in his party have. He’s sought the advice of the controversial co-author of the bills, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who consults with the campaign as an unpaid adviser and whose endorsement has been touted in conservative primary states such as South Carolina and Arizona.
More important, Romney has publicly espoused Kobach’s polarizing philosophy of “self-deportation,” the idea of making life so inhospitable to illegal immigrants they’ll flee rather than face legal proceedings.
Hispanics, a powerful bloc whose vote could decide the outcome in pivotal states such as Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Arizona, seem to have responded by abandoning Romney, with only 14 percent of Hispanic voters favoring him over Obama in a recent Fox Latino poll — one-third of the Hispanic support George W. Bush enjoyed in 2004.