Immigration Switch a Leap of Faith for GOP

David Weigel on the 'demographic dare' that could save or ruin Republicans

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 30, 2013 1:44 PM CST

(Newser) – In his book 10 years ago, Sean Hannity raged against illegal immigration. But just days after Barack Obama's reelection, Hannity, ever a "weather vane of popular Republican Party opinion," said he'd "evolved" on the issue, David Weigel of Slate observes, adding that "evolved is conservative media code for sold out in the hopes of a brunch invite from Arianna Huffington." It's not hard to see why Hannity panicked: "He wanted Republicans to win elections, and immigration made it harder."

Now congressional Republicans are making the same calculation. But it's a gamble, Weigel points out: They're adding millions of potential Hispanic voters to the pool. "Can they win these people over?" Many, including Marco Rubio, believe they can, given that Hispanics lean conservative on social issues. But others believe Hispanics are natural Democrats. "There is a theory of 'makers' and 'takers,'" explains Weigel, "and no matter how many calluses they get picking lettuce, the new arrivals go into column two." Read Weigel's full column on the "demographic dare" here.

In this May 4, 2007, file photo, Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity speaks in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac, File)
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