3) Independents may be mobilized to vote in the Republican primaries, and that, ironically, would help Hillary.
In many primaries, Independents have the option of voting in either contest. Until now, experts have assumed that most Independents would flock to the Democratic race — either to vote against Hillary or to influence what had looked like a more compelling race.
The immigration issue could change that. For some voters, immigration is the hot-button issue of the campaign and they will cross party lines to vote for any candidate who promises to take a tougher stand. This could have the effect, again, of bolstering the candidacies of Romney and Thompson, while, ironically, helping Hillary Clinton — who runs better among Democrats than Independents. The more Independents choose to vote in the Republican race, the better her chances. And never forget that she is the Democrats’ least-electable candidate.
4) If a compromise immigration bill doesn’t pass because of conservative opposition, the issue will hurt the gop in the long run.
Here’s where immigration could cause problems for the Republicans. Thompson and Romney may gain short-term advantage in the primaries, thanks to their opposition. But if the measure actually fails, Hispanic voters will remember who helped defeat a bill that they, by and large, supported (or opposed because it wasn’t liberal enough).
Thus, if Romney or Thompson actually wins the nomination, he will face a mass exodus of Hispanic voters. In 2004, Bush received roughly 44 percent of the Hispanic vote; his brother Jeb has run strongly among Hispanic voters in Florida, as well. It’s more than coincidental that the Bush brothers and McCain hail from border states with a large number of Hispanic voters — Texas, Florida, and Arizona.
The Republicans need those voters to win general elections. Unless Romney and Thompson can couch their staunch opposition in terms that are not perceived as anti-immigrant — and that is far easier said than done — they could make themselves unelectable in the fall of 2008.
Giuliani, for his part, is likely to avoid such problems: his subtler oppositional stance hasn’t hurt him in the long run. It helps that he’s accustomed to campaigning and governing in places inhabited by lots of immigrants, in contrast with Thompson and Romney. On this issue so far, Giuliani — the strongest general-election candidate the Republicans could nominate — has played his cards just right.
RUDY GIULIANI Odds: 5-4
FRED THOMPSON Odds: 3-1
MITT ROMNEY Odds: 5-1
JOHN MCCAIN Odds: 6-1
MIKE HUCKABEE Odds: 200-1
SAM BROWNBACK Odds: 1000-1
TOMMY THOMPSON Odds: 20,000-1
DUNCAN HUNTER Odds: 20,000-1
JAMES GILMORE Odds: 40,000-1
TOM TANCREDO Odds: 75,000-1
RON PAUL Odds: 500,000-1
BARACK OBAMA Odds: 4-3
HILLARY CLINTON Odds: 3-2
JOHN EDWARDS Odds: 8-1
BILL RICHARDSON Odds: 30-1
JOE BIDEN Odds: 65-1
CHRIS DODD Odds: 150-1
DENNIS KUCINICH Odds: 25,000-1
MIKE GRAVEL Odds: 1 million to 1
On the Web
The Presidential Tote Board blog: http://www.thephoenix.com/toteboard