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Tough Immigration Stances Boost McCain, Brewer

As Jesse wrote, Sen. John McCain will probably win his primary today. If it does, it will be thanks in part to a hard shift to the right on immigration politics. He’s not the only candidate to see an easier path to the general election after coming out with a “tough on immigration” stance: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s newfound prominence scared all of her primary opponents out of the race.

As immigration becomes a bigger concern in Arizona, many observers think voters will choose candidates who appear to have ideas to stop illegal entry into the country. Brewer has benefited as the face of SB 1070, Arizona’s harsh immigration law, while McCain touts his 10-point border security plan — parts of which were incorporated into the $600 million border security bill passed earlier this month.

SB 1070 radically shifted politics in Arizona, pollster Bruce Merrill said on last night’s NewsHour:

It has literally dominated and changed the entire environment of the state of Arizona. Three months ago the governor had supported a tax increase that was very unpopular with the right wing.

If she had not signed 1070 she would have had no chance to become the Republican nominee. Since then because of the tremendous media coverage not only in Arizona but around the United States and the world, she has been propelled into a very strong position. All of her opponents have withdrawn. And she will enter the general election with a sizable 15 to 20 percent lead over Terry Goddard.

Winning on harsh immigration stances may mean losing the Latino vote, although McCain and Brewer don’t seem to mind. As recently as 2008, McCain made winning the Latino vote a priority, but garnered only 31 percent of votes from Latinos in the presidential election. More Latino voters support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry Goddard after Brewer signed SB 1070.

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