The immigration proposal pending in Congress would transform the nation’s political landscape for a generation or more — pumping as many as 11 million new Hispanic voters into the electorate a decade from now in ways that, if current trends hold, would produce an electoral bonanza for Democrats and cripple Republican prospects in many states they now win easily.
Even Politico admits that this type of projection is “speculative” given that the newly eligible voters wouldn’t be casting President ballots until 2020 or 2028. It doesn’t keep them from speculating, though.
This sounds similar to the countless pundits on the right who have been wringing their hands for the last six months over the Great Question of What Went Wrong in 2012. How, they ask desperately, are we ever to win again? We don’t speak to minority groups! We don’t use Big Data! Our candidates are bad! Our messages are out of touch! Look at all the support for President Obama in 2012!
Republicans who feel bad about this should review the last several candidates for President produced by the Democratic party before they struck gold with Obama:
- John Kerry, an aristocrat out of Massachusetts who couldn’t beat a vulnerable sitting President.
- Al Gore.
- Bill Clinton, who was likable enough to score a second term but not ideological enough to move the ball for liberalism.
- Michael Dukakis.
- Walter Mondale.
- Jimmy Carter.
- George McGovern, an unabashed liberal who was thoroughly crushed.
- Hubert H. Humphrey.
- Lyndon Johnson, whose most liberal policies didn’t come out until he one re-election on the coattails of John F. Kennedy’s legacy.
- JFK, a charismatic and media-friendly candidate who was able to ignite the electorate and win wide popular support.
If you’re scoring at home, that’s 48 years between exciting Democratic candidates. If you want to find another Democratic candidate who helped the party ideologically, you have to go back to Franklin Roosevelt.
You could make a similar list for Republicans, of course. The point is, political environments are fleeting and not static. In eight years, GOP messaging could be very different, and the voices delivering those messages will be different, too – while left-leaning activists may be quoting the Great and Powerful Barack Obama the way today’s conservatives wistfully remember Ronald Reagan.