Given the predicted closeness of the race nationally, Colorado could determine who gets elected president in the fall. Nearly 21 percent of the registered electorate in Colorado is Hispanic, and so far Mitt Romney has scored a “nada” in appealing to Hispanics nationwide. Most polls show that 65 to 70 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. are leaning toward the Democratic column, with Romney getting around 29 percent.
Those nationwide figures include Cuban-Americans in Florida who usually vote Republican and who do not have immigration problems. So, the Colorado vote, with 70 percent of Hispanics from Mexican and Central American roots, could go more heavily for President Obama.
Mitt Romney has several problems that will make it difficult to win over Hispanic voters, many of his own making and the result of his representing a GOP/Republican party that sounds and acts hostile to immigrants. The question facing Hispanics is that President Obama may have not delivered on all of his promises to them, such as immigration reform, but would Romney be more likely to deliver?
Instead of showing he would do better, Romney is on record supporting positions that alienate Hispanics. Such a visible record will make it hard for him to flip flop later.
Romney hopes he can convince Hispanics his expertise in economic matters will be an acceptable trade-off. So far, that has not worked.
Part of Romney's problem is that he Is wedded to the GOP that has made it a litmus test of partisan loyalty that any path to citizenship is called “amnesty.” While the GOP has pointed out that Obama has increased deportations, the GOP has never said they would decrease the number. Romney's advocacy of self-voluntary deportation was greeted with guffaws.
GOP office-holders have supported letting local police and sheriffs enforce federal immigration laws, allowing local officials to ask for documentation if they stop or pull over a suspect that looks like an illegal immigrant. Arizona has just passed such a law. The fear that anyone with a brown complexion and an accent legally in the U.S. or not, will be racially profiled has further angered many voters in the Hispanic community. Not only has Romney supported the law, he has called it a model that all states should adopt.
In state legislatures across the country, the GOP legislators have fought the Dream Act, which would, among variations, allow children born outside the U.S. but brought here by their parents, to attend college with in-state tuition. Republicans in the Colorado Legislature have been able to block the passage of such a Dream Act. Romney has vowed to veto Dream Acts if Congress passes one.
There has also been a concerted effort among GOP legislators, including those in Colorado, to require all to have a government issued photo ID to register and vote. Democrats in the Colorado Legislature have beaten back efforts to pass such a law. The estimate is that 20 percent of voters in some states — mostly Democratic-leaning Hispanics, minorities, students, and elderly — now do not have one and to get it requires time and travel. The GOP claims they wanted to require photo identification to prevent fraud, but there has been no proof of any widespread voter fraud. Such GOP efforts have been called “voter suppression.” In 2012 Colorado Hispanics do not need to have a photo ID to register or to vote.