The Obama administration’s lawsuit over the stringent Arizona border law might have just made the incline a little steeper for many Western Democrats, providing instant fodder to Republicans who are already optimistic about regaining ground lost over the last two election cycles.
The dust from the Department of Justice lawsuit filed Tuesday is just starting to settle, but the reflexive sense among strategists on both sides is that it will be a net negative for Democrats this fall.
The suit could, of course, help boost turnout among Hispanic voters in key areas across the West. And stridently anti-immigrant rhetoric could turn off independent voters. Yet many foresee a midterm electorate featuring an energized Republican base—for whom the immigration issue has emerged as a priority—prompting moderate white Western voters who are concerned about jobs to decamp to the GOP at least in the short term, political observers said.
“This is a tough issue for Democrats,” said former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, a Democrat who is co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the University of Denver. “Politically, I just can’t think of any place in the West where this is going to play well.”
“If you look like you’re siding with illegal immigration, you’re in trouble,” said one national Republican strategist, adding that when it comes to the discussion of secured borders, “people think that’s what should happen.”