Nonetheless Mr Romney cheerfully joined in the denunciation of Mr Perry for his breach of party doctrine. By the same token, when Newt Gingrich, another candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, suggested that illegal immigrants of good character and long standing should be allowed to stay, Mr Romney attacked him too. He argues that life should be made so difficult for illegal immigrants that they will choose, in a horrible phrase, to “self-deport”. Democrats hope that all this will dent Mr Romney’s prospects among Hispanic voters, many of whom see Republican fulminations against illegal immigration as stony-hearted, if not racist. In a survey conducted last year on behalf of the Pew Hispanic Centre, two-thirds of Hispanic registered voters said they favoured the Democrats. Just 20% identified themselves as Republican. In March a Fox News Latino poll found that, in a head-to-head match-up, Mr Romney would carry just 14% of the Hispanic vote. Earlier polls had found Mr Romney doing better than that, but still considerably worse than the 31% John McCain managed to amass, even while losing in 2008, or the whopping 40% George W. Bush posted in 2004.
Hispanics made up 16% of the population in 2010, according to that year’s census. They are a fast-growing group, although a relatively large proportion of them are below voting age and even those eligible to vote are less assiduous about it than Anglos are. But they account for over 20% of the population in several swing states, including Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. Democrats hope to make Arizona a swing state this year, thanks both to the 30% Hispanic share of the local population and to the acrimony inspired by the state’s immigration law. A recent poll put Mr Obama within two points of Mr Romney in the state, which has been a Republican stronghold recently—not least because of Mr McCain’s candidacy in 2008.
The Romney campaign argues that immigration is not the only point of contention for Hispanic voters. Latinos suffer higher unemployment than the national average, and are more likely to be poor. Their incomes are still lower, on average, than when Mr Obama came into office. Even for Mexican-Americans, who make up nearly two-thirds of America’s Hispanic population and seem particularly suspicious of Mr Romney, immigration reform may matter less than jobs or schools.
Republicans have long tried to find common cause with Latino voters. They point out that, in some respects, Hispanics seem natural conservatives: religious, hard-working and with close family ties. There is even talk that Mr Romney might bolster his standing among Latinos by picking one as a running-mate—Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida, say, or Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico.
Since the immigration debate has such a nativist tone, however, Democrats are doubtful that Republicans can win over many Hispanic voters. “You can’t do it when at a very baseline level you make American citizens feel unwelcome in their own country,” says Joaquin Castro, a Democratic state representative from San Antonio, Texas. It will not help that in the middle of the campaign the Supreme Court will draw attention once again to the Republicans’ obstreperousness on the issue by ruling on the Arizona law.
因为关于移民问题的争论已带上了非常严重的本土主义色彩,民主党非常怀疑共和党能争取到许多拉丁裔选民的支持.,德克萨斯州圣安东尼奥市的民主党州众议员杰奎因·卡斯特罗说道, "当你让美国公民觉得在自己的国家里不受欢迎,你已经触及到他们的底线,这就无法争取他们的选票了". 当选举进行到一半时, 最高法院将对本案宣判, 到时目光将再次聚集在喋喋不休的共和党人上, 这对他们的选情并无帮助.