The GOP Could Fumble Away the House

If Republicans succeed in blocking a path to citizenship for immigrants, they will fail at the polls next year.

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The smart money in D.C. is on the GOP retaining its majority in the House of Representatives. The pundits and prognosticators may be right, but Republicans are really pushing their luck.

The GOP has created a solid House majority based on a national system of rotten boroughs created by clever gerrymandering. Last year the Republican Party retained control of the House even though Democratic candidates won more popular votes. Michigan is a good example. Last year, a majority Michigan's voters supported Democratic candidates for the U.S. of Representatives, but Republicans won nine of the 14 seats.

The GOP "lock" on the House is not foolproof. As long as Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is in the GOP caucus, Democrats have a chance to win.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

Last week for instance, King made a blanket statement classifying young Latino immigrants as "drug mules." Earlier this year, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, described Hispanics as "wetbacks."

It is difficult to motivate people to vote in the midterm elections, but the GOP is doing its best to drive Hispanics to the polls next year. In addition to King's racist verbal barbs, Republicans adamantly oppose policy initiatives dear to Latino voters.

The Republican House caucus has probably stopped comprehensive immigration reform this year. If the GOP succeeds in blocking the path to citizenship for immigrants, the Republicans will fail at the polls next year. When Republicans aren't blocking reform legislation, they spend their time trying to kill reforms that are already law. House Republicans have now voted 40 times to kill the Affordable Care Act,  which Hispanic Americans support in large numbers.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

The GOP's electoral problems extend far beyond Hispanic voters. A national poll that CBS conducted in July indicated that Americans are much more concerned about the economy (40 percent) than the budget deficit (16 percent), or anything else for that matter. By focusing like a laser beam on the deficit, the GOP is blissfully ignoring the problem that concerns large numbers of voters. Meanwhile President Obama has spent the last two weeks on the road, talking about the economy.

The president's job rating isn't anything to write home about, but his performance score according to the late July CBS News poll is twice as high as the grade that Americans give congressional Republicans (25 percent approve-67 percent disapprove). Democratic strategists should do what the Obama campaign did in the presidential race, which was to make the election a choice between him and the GOP and not a referendum on his tenure in the White House. GOP hotheads like Steve King will help the chief executive make the sale.

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