JONATHAN CHAIT MAY 26, 2010
The new WSJ/NBC poll on immigration shows that Republicans are getting a short-term bump from whites for their tough-on-illegal immigration stance, but "Latinos, once a semi-swing group of voters, now have swung overwhelmingly for President Obama and the Democratic Party, and younger Hispanics are moving to the Democrats in even greater numbers."
First Read suggests that Latinos might sour on Obama if he fails to pass immigration reform:
Of course, this doesn't mean that Latino voters won't hesitate to hold Obama and the Democrats accountable, either. In our poll, just 32% of all adults and 45% of Latinos approve of Obama’s job on immigration. And yesterday, after his testy meeting with Senate Republicans, the Obama White House authorized the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops to the border. And what if Obama is unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform, with 60% of the country favoring it, according to our poll? Could the Latino vote swing back?
This is probably true. It's also more evidence of the way our confusing political system obscures accountability and creates perverse incentives. Obama wants to pass immigration reform, but he knows he's likely to be blocked by Republicans and conservative Democrats. But since most Americans fail to understand how the filibuster works, and large numbers don't even know which party controls Congress, they'll just know that Obama didn't pass immigration reform. Which is to say, the Republican Party's best play to win back the Latino vote is probably to obstruct immigration reform in Congress.