One angle I didn't cover earlier is the impact of immigration on tonight's debate. Florida is the first Republican primary with a significant number of Hispanic voters. By contrast, roughly 99 percent of South Carolina GOP voters were non-Hispanic whites. This has to influence how the candidates tackle immigration-related issues, especially border security and whether states should enact legislation like Arizona's SB 1070.
I haven't seen any detailed polling of Hispanic Republicans on this issue, but Hispanic Americans in general have more ambivalent views about immigration -- both legal and illegal -- than their self-appointed media spokesmen. Surprisingly high numbers have told pollsters that there is too much immigration into the United States, but these voters can react viscerally if campaigns against illegal immigration are seen as anti-Hispanic.
Mitt Romney has actually taken the hardest line on illegal immigration in the debates. Rick Santorum has also tried to frame the enforcement-first position in a way that doesn't sound hostile to immigrants themselves. But Newt Gingrich has tried hardest to sound pro-immigrant but pro-enforcement with his (totally unworkable) proposal for local boards to help determine which illegals should stay or go. This bears watching tonight.
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