President Obama talked via phone yesterday to the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, and though the discussion was originally off the record, the White House later agreed to allow the interview to be published in its entirety. Of particular interest were the president's thoughts on immigration and political demographics.
"Should I win a second term," he said, "a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community. And this is a relatively new phenomenon. George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America."
I put together this chart showing the president's advantage among Latino voters. On the left are the results from 2008, when Obama won among Latinos, 67% to 31%. According to an NBC/WSJ/Telemundo poll released this week, Obama leads Romney in this same constituency, 70% to 25%.
And that 45-point advantage is actually more competitive than the latest Latino Decisions poll, which found the president ahead by 51 points.
Jose Fuentes, a co-chairman of Mitt Romney's Hispanic leadership team, recently established a specific goal: the Republican campaign intends to "hit 38 percent with the Hispanic vote." In other words, Mr. Self Deportation believes he can do better with Latinos -- voters he's gone out of his way to offend -- than McCain/Palin did four years ago.
I have a hunch Romney won't come close to the 38 percent target.
Indeed, Obama's right about the landscape, and there's certainly nothing wrong with him acknowledging the demographic reality. Given his deficit among white voters, the president would appear to have no shot at victory, but if he hangs on to win, it'll be because Latinos were there for him.