Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I'm no fan of Arizona's papers-please immigration law, so I'm pleased that the most noxious parts of the law have been blocked by a federal judge, but from the beginning I've been skeptical about the White House's political calculations for November regarding the law -- I don't buy the notion that this will drive Hispanics to the polls in numbers sufficient to offset some of the GOP's tea party and swing-voter gains. Well, now I guess we'll see who's right.

Hotline says of the judge's ruling:

For Democrats, it looks like a blessing in California (Boxer), Florida, Illinois (Kirk), Nevada (Reid) putting Republican candidates on the defensive in states with crucial Hispanic voting blocs....

But Democrats in more culturally-conservative states also face a tough dilemma. Brad Ellsworth (IN), Blanche Lincoln (AR), Robin Carnahan (MO), Jack Conway (KY) and Charlie Melancon (LA) are facing conservative electorates in states with small Hispanic populations, where public opinion has been supportive of the Arizona law.

I'm not convinced that this is a win for Harry Reid -- in fact, I think it may be a life preserver for Sharron Angle's campaign, which recently has been taking on water. All of a sudden the race isn't going to be about her and her extremism -- it's going to be about whether "activist judges" can be free to overturn a popular law (very popular among whites) in a neighboring state. Angle wanted the race to be about Reid, and Reid has been succeeding in making it about Angle, but now it's going to be about neither -- it's going to be about Obama. (Yeah, the judge in the case was a Clinton appointee, but, hey, what's the difference?)

I'm not convinced that Hispanics in Nevada are going to turn out in droves to vote for Reid because an Obama strategy blocked implementation of this law. On the other hand, the right's narrative, which is often persuasive to swing voters, is that Democratic presidents and Democratic members of Congress and judges appointed by Democrats are all one big hydra-headed beast, and the only way you tame the beast is to vote Republican.

I think this decision is going to have an electoral impact in a lot of races across the country, most of them to the Democrats' detriment. As I see it, it's health care all over again -- the course of action the White House favors is broadly unpopular with white voters, but the White House simply hasn't tried very hard to turn that opinion around, either because it can't figure out how or because it can't quite believe white voters really feel the way they do.

Or maybe I'm all wrong about this. We'll see.

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