Over the last 24 years (1988 to 2012), some important trends have emerged. First, even though more states have a Republican PVI than a Democratic PVI--27 to 23--Democrats have an Electoral College advantage. Add up all the Electoral votes for states that have a Democratic PVI and all those with Republican PVI and you get the Democrats at 272 electoral votes to 266 for Republicans. Just seven years ago, Republicans had a 281 to 257 advantage in the Electoral College. So, what happened? Two states--Nevada and Colorado--flipped from red to blue.
It’s understandable, then, that Republicans--and the media--are focused on how/if the GOP can get those fast-growing states back into their column. But, are they even gettable? Colorado, which has gotten 3 points more Democratic since 2006, is the most fragile of the two with a PVI of just under one point.
Nevada, however, has gotten almost six and a half points more Democratic since 1988, and 3 points more Democratic since 2006. Nevada has also seen the Hispanic population in the state jump from 20 percent to 27 percent from 2000 to 2010. If the population increases at this rate for the next ten years, Hispanics will make up 37 percent of the population by 2020. [...]
The Romney campaign spent $8.9M on broadcast TV in Nevada during the general election to get 46 percent of the vote. In Pennsylvania, the Romney campaign spent a paltry $2.4M and got 47 percent. In other words, Team Romney spent four times as much in Nevada as they did in Pennsylvania, to get essentially the same percentage of the vote. Now, imagine that the money invested in Pennsylvania came earlier--and more intensely.
We've talked about this before. Nevada has truly become a Blue State. Sure, it's still a purplish blue hue now. However, the general trend has been a blue one thanks to changing demographics... And most Republicans' inability to change with them.
So keep that in mind as we view this.
Back in January, it looked like Republicans in Congress were preparing to jump en masse to support comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Yet even back then, Alex Pareene and others were warning Beltway pundits not to get too giddy about this budding "great bipartisan breakthrough!" After all, the 21st Century Know Nothings are still driven by xenophobia and nativism... And they still drive the bulk of the Republican Party.
This week, we've especially been seeing this dynamic at work. Even as the mask slipped from the 21st Century Know Nothings and their rationale for opposing CIR, many Republican politicians nonetheless stood by them and hardened their opposition to CIR.
But wait, didn't they "learn their lesson" from last November? Aren't they supposed to be rushing to support reform? Sure, many "establishment" leaders are. However, the G-O-TEA base isn't. And that tail still looks to be wagging the Big Red Dog.
We know several Republicans have been digging for excuses to kill reform. Perhaps their most potent excuse involves a(n electoral) map. If most Republicans think their party can survive demographic changes here in Nevada and elsewhere by chasing after white voters somewhere else, they may conclude there's no need to support CIR and engage in any more "Hispandering".
All along, we've seen the biggest obstacle to immigration reform passing this Congress in the ideological fault line that divides the Republican Party. On one side, we see pragmatists who are warning the rest of their party that they risk future political irrelevancy if they're seen as a bunch of narrow-minded, old, white bigots. Yet on the other side, we see the 21st Century Know Nothings selling nativism as sound policy... And good politics.
So what happens next? We shall see. But again, the future of immigration reform likely lies in where Senator Dean Heller (R-46%) sees political opportunity... And which side he takes in The Great (GOP) Divide.