Obama’s immigration stance and his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has locked in support from a fast-growing demographic group that has been trending sharply Democratic in the wake of increasingly hard-line Republican positions on immigration. Obama’s campaign is counting on Hispanics providing the margin of victory not just in Nevada, but also in other swing states such as Colorado, Iowa, Virginia and North Carolina.
“They know that he’s on the right side of the immigration issue and wants to work with Congress for comprehensive immigration reform,” deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said. “They know he wakes up every day and thinks about how to secure the middle class and make it easier for young people to enter the middle class.”
The importance of Hispanics as a voting bloc and immigration as an election-year issue was brought home during last week’s presidential debate. Obama reminded viewers that Romney, who went hard to the right on the issue during the GOP primaries, had argued for “self-deportation” to solve the illegal immigration problem and took advice on the issue from the law professor who helped write Arizona’s controversial immigration statute. The Republican challenger noted that Obama had promised to pass an immigration overhaul and had failed.
The Romney campaign says Hispanics, enduring a 9.9 percent jobless rate, which is more than 2 points higher than the national average, are a natural draw for the GOP ticket. “Hispanics are hurting almost more than any other demographic group under the Obama economy,” Romney’s Spanish-speaking son Craig, a frequent surrogate in the Hispanic community, said in a brief interview. “They’re really struggling and they understand that this president has failed them and we need someone who understands how to create jobs.”
But even some Romney supporters are pessimistic that Republicans can make inroads with a population that, many polls show, favors Obama by a 2-to-1 margin.