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Obama Manages the Rare Triple Play of Bad Politics on Immigration

Decline in Support for Republicans Among LatinosThe latest Pew Research poll shows Democrats have lost serious ground among Latinos. During the 2010 election Democrats had a 43 point net advantage among this voting group, but it dropped to only a 29 point advantage this cycle. I can’t help but assume part of the reason is that Obama managed in one swift move to disappoint Latinos in three distinct ways.

Politics is fairly simple. There are actually only a few ways to disappoint a group that cares about a particular issue. The simplest is you can fail to adopt the policy they want.

Second, you can be caught lying to them. This raises hopes only to crush them. That can feel even worse than knowing a politician has always been opposed in a principled way to your idea.

Third, you can make them feel not valued or listened to. Voters can still respect politicians they disagree with, but being treated poorly is different.

With his recent decision on immigration Obama managed to do all three at the same time. He failed to take executive action on immigration reform like most Latino voters wanted. He lied about it by promising action by the end of the summer. Finally, Obama broke this promise for what seemed to be purely political reasons. This sends a message that Latino voters aren’t valued and Democrats think they can be taken for granted. It is a statement about where a group fits in the priorities of the party.

Simply taking action or not taking action would have been better. At least that only disappoints groups in a single way. Making a promise than breaking it is the worst possible political move.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at