HOW SOON IS THE DEMOGRAPHIC FUTURE?
Digby isn't concerned about bad nationwide polling on the Arizona immigration law. Here's one poll:
By a two-to-one margin Hispanics are more strongly opposed than Americans overall to the recent immigration measure signed in to law in Arizona that would make it a state crime to reside there illegally.
Seven in 10, 70%, of Hispanic respondents said they are somewhat or strongly opposed to the law, compared with 34% of all respondents in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll....
Digby posts a 1994 GOP campaign ad and says of the poll:
...That sounds bad, but it's long term problem for the right. I sure hope they keep this up.
... Here's the ad Pete Wilson ran in 1994. The numbers in California that year were similar because the state was slow to come out of the 92 recession.
He won. But the Republican Party was decimated and unless they run a (foreign born) celebrity cyborg they can't get elected to much of anything...
Well, the Republicans don't seem to be doing so badly in the California Senate race -- three potential GOP rivals to Barbara Boxer have been within 10 points of her (or actually leading her) in every recent poll, so the party isn't all that moribund. And all three of those Republicans -- Tom Campbell, Chuck DeVore, and Carly Fiorina -- have offered support for the Arizona law; Boxer has expressed serious reservations about it. Does that mean Boxer has won the election? We'll see. I suspect it's not going to be that simple.
Digby thinks the widespread Hispanic opposition to the law is The Future. Well, The Future is a country that's 29% Hispanic -- by 2050, according to demographers. Um, 29% is a big uptick, but even that high number is a long way away, and it still means Hispanics will be a minority. It means they'll be in pretty much the position blacks are in in Southern states. How's that working out in terms of consolidating political power?
I'm concerned that, just as the Democratic Party lost the South (for two generations and counting) as a result of LBJ-era civil rights laws, a pro-immigration stand, however much it's a bulwark against nativist rage, may be how the party loses broad swatches of white America for decades.
This isn't even like gay marriage -- that other "someday the demographics will be on our side" issue -- in that it doesn't seem as if young whites disagree all that much with older whites. In a new Pew poll, which also finds a tremendous amount of support among whites for the Arizona law, 18-29-year-olds are evenly split on the law (59% of whites support it overall) -- but 61% of young people approve of "requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status," and 52% approve of "allowing police to detain anyone unable to verify legal status."
The problem, I think, is that opponents of the law aren't speaking across ideological lines -- we're not clearly rebutting the understandable notion that this is just a commonsense way to enforce the law. We're not making the heavyhanded nature of this law vivid and (to use a modish word) "relatable" to whites. We're just saying it's racist and fascist and contenting ourselves with nods of agreement who are already on our side.
This is a bad moment in American history, and frustrated, anxious citizens are receptive to scapegoating. The Arizona GOP has found quite a group of scapegoats, and Democrats and progressives underestimate the potency of this scapegoating at their peril.