There is a bit of a controversy over the GOP and immigration reform. Mitt Romney did terribly among Latinos, as do Republican candidates in general. The question is why. Many observers, including many Republicans, ascribe it to Republican immigrant-bashing, also known as racism. “Self-deportation” and all that.
There is a counter-argument, advanced by both liberals and conservatives, that the problem lies in other GOP policies. To get Latinos to vote Republican, either the internal demographics of Latinos would have to change or the GOP would need to alter core political stances other than their incessant dog-whistling to white nationalists. In that view, then, the dog-whistling is a pure plus: it gets white votes that might otherwise go uncast without losing many Latino ones.
I go back-and-forth on this. On the one hand, I know a lot of Latino conservatives who are put off by GOP insanity. On the other hand, I also know a lot of non-Latino conservatives who are put off by GOP insanity.
So ... one test case is New Jersey. There, Governor Christie leads among white voters, but is slightly behind among Latinos, 41-43 against Barbara Buono.
Thing is, Governor Christie has not engaged in any racist dog-whistling. And his persona goes over well with Latinos. This above picture is me in front of Mr. Otero’s house in Queens. Mr. Otero has told me that he likes Governor Christie. But ... I have trouble believing that he would vote for the man. (And no, not just because he does not live in New Jersey.) Why? Well, look at this picture of the house, without me taking up space:
You see a lot of those stickers in Queens.
Immigration reform? A good thing. And probably a net gain for the GOP. But I am not sure that it would drastically change much of anything. The party has other problems.