The platform stance on immigration is the brainchild of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the chief architect of the country’s most controversial state immigration laws, including Arizona’s SB 1070, key parts of which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down.
The stance supports completion of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, supports E-Verify, a program in which employers check a person’s eligibility to work in the United States through a computer database that includes Social Security and immigration records, but opposes in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as minors, as well as other policies or programs that give breaks to those who are here illegally.
Many Democrats believe that the "tough" Republican immigration platform will help drive Hispanic votes to the Democrats this year. Democratic policies, they argue, offer a sharply "pro-immigrant" alternative to the Republican approach. As Fox News Latino reports:
[T]hree Senate candidates in the Southwest have called on delegates to the Democratic National Convention -- which is scheduled for the week of Labor Day in Charlotte, North Carolina -- to make support of a bill to help undocumented immigrants who were brought as minors gain citizenship a part of the party platform.
Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic nominee for a Senate seat from New Mexico, is leading the effort and said that formally supporting the immigration proposal would provide voters with a clear choice on an issue that many care deeply about.
"I think the time has come for the DREAM Act to be part of our identity as a party," Heinrich said to the Associated Press.
In the 2008 Presidential election, Hispanics across the country voted for Obama over McCain by a 69-31 margin, a drop for the Republican candidate from the high water mark of 40% of the Hispanic vote that went for George W. Bush in 2004.
The national popular vote, however, doesn't determine the outcome of the election. Instead, individual races in the 50 states and the District of Columbia allocate Electoral College votes to the winner of each of these 51 separate contests. Several states with large Hispanic populations are either solidly for Obama (California) or Romney (Arizona and Texas). But in three state contests--Florida (29 Electoral College votes), Colorado (9 Electoral College votes), and Nevada (6 Electoral College votes)--marginal changes in the Hispanic vote could change the outcome in the state election, thereby determining the results of the Presidential contest for the entire country. Two of these states--Florida and Colorado--are currently rated by Rasmussen as "tossups," while the third--Nevada--is currently "lean Obama."
Rasmussen Reports currently gives 247 Electoral College votes to Obama, 206 to Romney, with 85 rated as a tossup. (Note: This is likely to change, however, in light of today's Rasmussen Reports Poll that shows Mitt Romney's lead in Missouri with its 10 Electoral College votes has vanished after the Todd Akin fiasco.)
If Romney can increase his national Hispanic vote totals above McCain's 31% and approach George W. Bush's 40%, especially in these three key states, the added 44 Electoral College vote swing would change the current Electoral College projections to 241 for Obama, 244 for Romney, with 47 "tossups."
Recent national polls of Hispanic voters, however, have identified two seemingly inconsistent facts:
(1) Hispanic voters are more concerned about jobs and the economy than they are about immigration policy.
(2) Romney's support among Hispanics lingers at the McCain 31% level and shows little evidence of moving toward the Bush 40% level.
In June the polling firm Latino Decisions conducted a poll of Hispanic voters in the three key battleground states, and found that Romney was polling below 31% in both Nevada (20%) and Colorado (22%), while he polled above 31% in Florida (37%).
The differences between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama on immigration policy are unlikely to dramatically alter Hispanic voting patterns in the 2012 Presidential campaign. However, the outcome of the election may well hinge on Mitt Romney's ability to convince Hispanic voters in Florida, Colorado, and Nevada that he is more capable of creating jobs for them and improving the economy for the country than Barack Obama has shown himself to be over the past four years. Based on recent polling, Governor Romney has his work cut out for him in successfully making that case to an Hispanic population that traditionally favors Democrats over Republicans by a 2 to 1 margin.
Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.