Susana Martinez (R) was able to capitalize on Hispanic support to win New Mexico's governorship, but she underperformed GOP expectations in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque), costing the GOP the chance to defeat Rep. Martin Heinrich with a Latino Republican running (Jon Barela).
Even in Arizona, the focus of the anti-illegal immigration sentiment, Latinos strongly opposed Sen. John McCain (R), who became a born-again seal-the-borders politician this election. A 57 percent majority backed his Democratic opponent, Rodney Glassman. And a whopping 71 percent voted against Gov. Jan Brewer, the author of tough immigration laws in her home states. And a boost in Latino turnout looks like it saved Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who called on Americans to boycott his home state, and protected Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). whose opponent focused on cracking down on immigration as a central plank in a business-friendly district.
That's a clear warning to Republicans for 2012: Immigration may be a winning issue nationally but in key battlegrounds for the next presidential election, they'll need to perform better among Hispanics or they could risk becoming irrelevant out West.