The problem, he says, is that evangelicals have a problem with the meanspiritedness of the immigration issue, and they shy away from candidates who focus on it. While its true that people are turned off by the rhetoric, he missed the point that Arizonans are just not that into illegal immigration.
What he glosses over is how much the voters have engaged on illegal immigration in the past few years:
- Prop 200 (Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act – 2004) passed with 55.6%
- Prop 100 (Bail Offenses – 2006) passed with 77.9%
- Prop 102 (Legal Standing in Civil Actions – 2006) passed with 74.2%
- Prop 103 (English Official Language – 2006) passed with 74.0%
- Prop 300 (Public Program Eligibility – 2006) passed with 71.4%
Arizona still has a Republican registration advantage and Democrats still need either Republican or Independent crossover votes to win. So, their positions on key issues such as immgration can have just as many ramifications in the General Election. If they are percieved as too soft on immigration or in favor of open borders, they are going to have trouble. The "Republicans are crazy and we're not" approach isn't going to be enough to put them over the edge.
One of the first tests of this will be in the Richard vs. Nelson primary contest for Maricopa County Attorney. Their potential positions could have just as big of an impact on splitting their base. What they say in their primary, and their position on immigration will be put to the test when they go up against Thomas in the general.
This holds true for the Governor's race in 2010. To have success, the candidate is going to have to have a clear position and plan on immigration that will be enough to hold their base while appealing to everyone else. Its a challenge that both Republicans and Democrats will face.