Barack Obama’s campaign team is tight-lipped about nearly every aspect of their strategy, except one: They are counting on record Latino turnout to push their man over the finish line.
The president’s re-election campaign released a memo Monday, one day before the Florida primary, entitled “Republicans Seal Their Fate With Hispanic Voters In 2012,” authored by Sergio Bendixen, a pollster who worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid, and Gabriela Domenzain, director of Hispanic press for Obama for America. It argues the president could receive a greater percentage of Hispanic support than any candidate in modern history, thanks largely to harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Republicans seeking to replace him.
Mitt Romney, the moderate of the candidates, opposes the DREAM Act, which would make it easier for the children of illegal immigrants to become citizens. Newt Gingrich has called Spanish “the language of the ghetto” and both men have called for some form of “self-deportation” by Latinos residing illegally in the United States.
Back on January 3, the day of the Iowa caucus, Priorities USA, the Super PAC led by former Obama aide Bill Burton that is working to boost his re-election efforts, released a strikingly similar memo that also argued the Republicans had done themselves “permanent damage” with Latinos. Geoff Garin, Clinton’s top pollster in 2008, works with that group.
We may be getting a preview of an ongoing strategy: use the Super PAC to tease a message and prime reporters and engaged readers to be receptive to it, and then use the actual campaign to distribute it more widely. That former Hillary pollsters were in some way or other associated with both efforts suggests Obama for America thinks it has demographic trends on its side, and is confident the 2012 election will be sharply ideological, in contrast to the more personality-based contests of 2000, 2004, and 2008.