The Democratic Strategist notes Bill Pascoe’s CQ Politics article “Did Obama Just Use the Sotomayor Nomination To Lock in Florida?” The piece notes that not only is Florida’s Hispanic population large and growing, it’s increasingly composed of Puerto Ricans rather than Cuban-Americans.
That said, I think this line of thought is somewhat misguided. George Bush appointed minorities to a number of high-profile positions, and I don’t ultimately think that having elevated a Hispanic judge to the Supreme Court in place of Samuel Alito would have done much to move votes. Ultimately, I just see little evidence that these kind of appointment decisions have a huge impact on voting.
But what you could see having some impact is less Obama’s decision to appoint Sotomayor than reaction to the conservative reaction to Sotomayor. I think if you look at election results over time, it’s clear that a large number of non-white or non-Anglo Americans seem to have the sense that the Republican Party and the conservative movement don’t have their best interests at heart. And when people see conservatives not just saying “well, I’m a conservative and Sotomayor isn’t, so I’m not happy about the choice” but engaging in bizarre tirades against the “unnatural” pronunciation of her name and the evils of Puerto Rican cuisine while suggesting that the kind of resume that was suitable for Samuel Alito doesn’t cut the mustard for Sonia Sotomayor, well then I think that tends to reenforce the sense that conservatives are very interested in white people’s problems and not so interested in anyone else.
That’s damaging. But that’s not really about Obama picking Sotomayor, it’s about the crazies on the right coming out to play.