News Release: Faculty Experts, Politics

May 27,  2009

Sotomayor Nomination is Tricky for Republicans

The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is a smart political move for President Barack Obama, says Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz.

“Nominating the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice not only reinforces the already positive view of the president among Hispanics, but it puts Republican senators in a very difficult position, forcing them to choose between angering their party's conservative base and angering Hispanic citizens who make up the nation's fastest growing voting bloc,” says Abramowitz, an expert on national elections and author of the forthcoming “The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization and American Democracy,” to be published in 2010 by Yale University Press.

Hispanics made up about nine percent of the electorate in 2008 and that percentage is certain to increase over the next several election cycles, says Abramowitz, noting that Hispanics make up close to 25 percent of the United States’ population under the age of 10. 

“The image of the Republican Party among Hispanics took a big hit between 2004 and 2008 as a result of support by prominent Republicans for what most Hispanic voters viewed as punitive anti-immigrant policies,” he says.

According to data from the 2008 American National Election Study, Abramowitz says the image of the Republican Party among Hispanics was more negative than any time in the last three decades, and much more negative than it was only four years earlier. “Opposition to the Sotomayor nomination could further damage the GOP's image among Hispanics.”

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