The national poll of likely Latino voters indicated that 73 percent of them approved of Obama's performance in office, with over half those questioned looking favorably upon his handling of the healthcare debate and the economy, at 66 percent and 58 percent respectively.
Released on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries in the race for the GOP nomination, the Fox News Latino poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 35 percent of Latino voter support, to Texas Rep. Ron Paul's 13 percent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's 12 percent, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's 9 percent.
But the poll shows that the overwhelming choice among likely Latino voters is President Obama. In head-to-head match-ups none of the GOP candidates would garner more than 14 percent of the Latino vote come November, the poll said.
You can almost hear the Republican faithful grumbling the sorts of sentiments that are precisely the reason why Latinos are wary of the Party of Lincoln.
You know, stuff like "I want to say 'go home' to lots of people" (Newt Gingrich); "I would sign the Dream Act if it were focused on military service" (Mitt Romney); and "My grandfather made sacrifices. He lived in this country five years without his family…So when I hear people say, 'well, people have lived here a long time, and they've played by the rules and we don't want to separate families.' Well, my grandfather separated from his family" (Rick Santorum).
Yeah, perpetuating inhumane policies due to personal grudges is really presidential. Go here for sources on those and other quotes by Republican presidential candidates.
So despite the fact that Barack Obama has been absolutely awful on immigration, he's seemingly got a lock on Latino votes.
And he's been awful in at least two ways.
First, he has presided over a crap economy and has done just about everything he could do to extend the recession by creating regime uncertainty when it comes the rules and regulations that will apply for a decade to come (Dodd-Frank, anyone, or health-care reform?). He's compounded that with horrible fiscal policy that is hell-bent of spending and borrowing until the country runs out of ink.
Second, he's actively deported tens of thousands of parents, has pushed a pro-union, anti-immigrant agenda, and more. If Latinos are right to worry about selective enforcement of immigration laws (and they are), Obama should be right up there with the Sheriff Joes and Jan Brewers of the world.
But leave it to the GOP, especially the mega-minds currently vying to lead the party into November's election, to screw it all up. That Fox News poll mentioned above suggests that a Latino VP would help the Republicans some, but not all that much. There are a number of charismatic, high-profile veep possibilities out there in the Latino community (Sen. Marco Rubio, Govs. Susanna Martinez and Luis Fortuno [check out his Reason interview]) but it will take more than a token pick to change voters' minds (and not just Latino voters, either, but all who find America's immigration policy idiotic).
All the GOP has to do is channel possibly the only goddamn thing George W. Bush ever got right as president. Here's Bush in 2001, talking at Ellis Island, that mythical place that cause "real Americans" (that is, those of us whose parents and grandparents came directly from the slums of Europe rather than the barrios of Mexico and places further south):
"100 million Americans can draw a straight line from the life they know today, to a moment inside this hall," he said. "Immigration is not a problem to be solved, it is a sign of a confident and successful nation. Their arrival should be greeted not with suspicion and resentment, but with openness and courtesy."
And there's this too, from 2004:
"It makes sense to allow the good-hearted people who are coming here to do jobs that Americans won't do a legal way to do so. And providing that legal avenue, it takes the pressure off the border."
I don't particularly care if a Republican or a Democrat wins in November, but I'd like to live in a country that wasn't so fixated on the myth of an immigration crisis and actually opened its borders to everyone yearning to be free and rich and all that. If the GOP had a brain—and that's open for debate—they might just do well to follow Bush's footsteps in this instance. Bush pulled somewhere between 40 percent and 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 (the estimates vary but represent an increase of between six and 10 points over his 2000 total). In 2008, John McCain, routinely lambasted by conservatives as weak on immigration, got a whopping 31 percent of the same bloc. The Fox poll suggests that the best any of the current GOP contenders will do in 2012 is 14 percent.
Certainly, carping about the handful of illegals getting in-state tuition at state colleges and bloviating about the desire to round up tanner-than-me farm laborers is no way to move forward into a glorious future of moon colonies and all that. As someone who moved from a post-Prop. 187 California (in which Republican Gov. Pete Wilson hitched his re-election to rancid Mexiphobia and destroyed the statewide GOP in the process) to George Bush's Texas in the mid-1990s, I can tell you that Dubya's approach works better if you're interested in a calmer social atmosphere and a functioning economy. That not being aggressively anti-immigrant (read: Latino) is merely the neon-red maraschino cherry on top of Chi-Chi's fried ice cream dessert.