President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration will likely help Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in his difficult re-election in 2016, given Nevada has such a high percentage of Hispanics and illegal immigrants.
According to The Hill
, Reid, who has long championed immigration reform, relied heavily on Hispanic voters in 2010 and may look to do so again as he battles to retain his seat.
"This effort should help Sen. Reid in 2016… No one appreciates more than Sen. Reid the power of the Hispanic vote. After all, it played a key difference in him eking out a victory in 2010," former Reid communications director Jim Manley told The Hill.
"It's important to note he's also fully committed to this cause, which is why it's great the president is starting off in Nevada," Manley said.
Obama went to the Silver State on Friday as the first stop on his tour to rally his proposals. In a speech at a heavily Hispanic Las Vegas high school, he praised Reid, who has been a strong supporter of the president's plans.
Reid described Obama's plans as "great news for families in Nevada and across the country," adding that the president's action "will not only keep families together, it will enforce our immigration laws in a way that protects our national security and public safety."
But the issue could set the stage for a tough re-election fight, particularly if he is up against Hispanic GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval.
"I think Reid is an underdog and a serious underdog for re-election, but don't count him out," Nevada politics expert Jon Ralston told The Hill.
"The Hispanic vote here is critical. It dropped off the face of the earth two weeks ago. If Reid doesn't get very high turnout among Hispanics, he's in big trouble."
The massively popular Sandoval, who won re-election with 70 percent support, has criticized the president for his use of executive power.
But in contrast to the main GOP stance, he has adopted a softer tone on the issue, emphasizing that the move gives "false hope to the millions of people across America who will continue to wait for a permanent solution."
Sandoval's moderate position may be attractive to voters, potentially undermining Reid's support.
Nevada has the largest percentage of illegal immigrants in the country, at 7.6 percent of its population. Hispanics make up more than 25 percent of the state's population, and accounted for 15 percent of the its eligible voters in 2012, The Hill reported.
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