You constantly hear top Democrats and neutral commentators warning that Mitt Romney’s embrace of extreme positions on immigration has effectively dashed his hopes of making inroads among Latinos in the general election. But as Glenn Thrush reports in a must-read this morning, this sentiment is now being privately voiced to the Romney campaign by top Republicans, who worry his lurches to the right are undoing years of what they are calling GOP outreach to a consistuency whose share of the vote will only grow in the years ahead.
The worry has been prompted by a recent poll showing only 14 percent of Latinos support Romney over Barack Obama:
One top GOP operative said that number needs to be closer to 33 percent: “We lose Hispanics this bad, we lose the whole election. Period.”
That opinion is growing. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn and other top party brass have made it known to Romney’s campaign that the party risks losing Hispanic voters by a historic margin, creating a downward draft on Senate and House candidates, according to two Hill sources.
Sen. Lindsey Graham has also made clear that the tone of the campaign is political suicide for the party, the sources said.
On the surface, this is another issue where the drawn-out nomination battle is forcing Romney to embrace positions that will alienate key general election constituencies. But what’s also interesting is that Romney may have been forced to tack harder to the right on immigration than a real conservative might have had to, in order to reassure the GOP base that he’s really one of them.
Result: Obama has a better chance at winning western states where the Latino vote share is growing, such as Colorado and Nevada, which could be key to reelection, enabling him to get to 270 despite expected losses in the Rust Belt.
* Obama’s big documentary to be released today: The 17-minute documentary comes out today, and the battle to define Obama’s first term begins in earnest:
“The film captures the enormity of the challenges, the difficulty of the decisions, and the progress that we’re making,” said Jim Margolis, Obama’s media consultant, who was involved at the margins of the documentary. “In short, it provides context (reminding people what we’ve been through), character (how the president approaches these staggering problems) and accomplishments (of which there are many).”
As I’ve been saying here, Obama’s chances turn heavily on whether he can get voters to take the long view of his presidency, remind them of the debth and severity of the crisis he inherited, and persuade them putting the economy on track to better days ahead was itself a major achievement that was anything but assured.
* Romney and Santorum locked in grueling delegate war: The Post has an interesting roadmap to what’s ahead in the delegate war of attrition that Romney and Santorum are waging. It’s going to be brutal. Also check out this great factoid about Santorum’s spending:
For each delegate he has earned, his campaign and a pro-Santorum super PAC have spent about $17,500 on TV ads, according to data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group. For Romney, the equivalent figure is about $67,700.
It isn’t just that Romney is failing to decisively put away weak competetion; he’s proven unable to do this despite his large financial advantage — which he will not have against Obama.
* Can Gingrich actually help Santorum against Romney? The conventional wisdom holds that a Gingrich exit would help Santorum unite the party against Romney. But Scott Conroy argues convincingly that by remaining in, Gingrich actually can pick up delegates that would otherwise have gone to Romney, making it easier to keep him from amassing the required total, forcing a contested convention.
* Gingrich and Santorum tag-teaming Romney: Relatedly, Gregory Krieg adds another dimension to what Santorum and Gingrich could conceivably accomplish en route to a contested convention:
If the former Speaker’s campaign keeps amassing delegates, Gingrich could accrue enough support that, when coupled with Santorum’s, the total meets or exceeds that of the current frontrunner.
* Romney’s top donors getting antsy: Romney’s wealthy backers just don’t understand why the wealthy Romney is having so much trouble relating to the common man, and they’re getting exceedingly nervous about his inability to change the narrative. I say, Mitt, can’t you just feign a common touch and put this thing away already, old boy?
* How bad will the next government shutdown war get? Steve Benen marvels at the fact that Republicans may opt for a rerun:
Given Congress’ record-low approval rating, and the severe unpopularity of the Republican Party, it’s hard to imagine even the most unhinged GOP members risking their majority in an election year, forcing a government shutdown. Then again, it was also hard to imagine literally every Republican in Congress last summer agreeing to destroy the economy on purpose unless Democrats accepted significant spending cuts — but that’s exactly what the GOP did during the debt-ceiling fiasco.
* The Romney campaign again pleads for context: Romney’s spokespeople are now arguing that the full context proves he never really called for eliminating Planned Parenthood. This perhaps suggests the issue is a potent one, and it’s particularly interesting coming from a campaign that openly boasted about all the media attention its dishonest ad ripping Obama’s words out of context secured.
* And behold Romney’s history of evasions on the individual mandate: Jonathan Chait has the most detailed look yet into what Romney has gotten away with.