Sean Trende on the President’s DREAM Gambit

by Reihan Salam

At RealClearPolitics, political analyst Sean Trende argues that President Obama’s new immigration enforcement initiative is unlikely to yield significant electoral dividends, in part because Latino voters are underrepresented in swing states:

The only states where Latinos make up more than 10 percent of the electorate are: Arizona (16 percent of the electorate in 2008), California (18 percent), Colorado (13 percent), Florida (14 percent), Nevada (15 percent), New Mexico (41 percent), and Texas (20 percent).

Of these, only Colorado, Florida, and Nevada are swing states; New Mexico and Arizona are at best borderline swing states. In Florida, the Latino vote largely (though decreasingly) comprises voters of Cuban descent and is therefore atypical of other Latino electorates.

So in the end, we’re talking about Colorado and Nevada as the states where this is likely to produce dividends of any size, for a total of 15 electoral votes.

Josh Kraushaar recently made a closely related argument at National Journal:

Given the attention paid to the Hispanic boomlet making the Southwest friendlier turf for Democrats, it’s easy to forget that the Rust Belt battlegrounds are heading in the opposite direction. The Rust Belt states are also the bigger electoral prize: There are 20 electoral votes combined in the states of Nevada (6), Colorado (9), and New Mexico (5), but 46 electoral votes in Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10), and Pennsylvania (20).

But overconfidence at this stage is very dangerous. Conservatives should take the new Bloomberg Poll conducted by Selzer & Co. seriously, though it is easy to see why many are dismissing it out of hand. As I recently learned via Paul Tough’s fortchoming new book How Children Succeed, the NYU psychologist Gabriele Oettingen has devised a new intervention called “Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions.” The basic idea is that while optimists tend to imagine a future in which they’ve achieved their goals and pessimists dwell on the obstacles in their path, there is a middle way (mental contrasting) in which one both indulges in fantasies flowing from a positive outcome while at the same time keeping the obstacles in the way front of mind. And this middle way seems to be the most effective way to improve self-discipline.