Thursday night's debate in Iowa will be the last before caucuses begin on Jan. 3, which means Republican candidates will be aiming toward those early voters. Amid nationwide concerns about jobs and the economy, though, immigration has been a hallmark issue in Iowa. In this gallery, we explore how the state's Hispanic population may impact the election.
The Opposition: Almost two-thirds of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers say that illegal immigration is a serious problem, according to a CBS/New York Times poll. Hard-line rhetoric embraced by tea party supporters and GOP candidates has alienated Latino voters at a time when their power to swing elections is growing stronger.(CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/AP)
Growing in Number: Iowa is one of the least diverse states, but its Latino population soared by 83 percent in the last decade. Latinos now account for 5 percent of the population, up from 2.8 percent in 2000, according to the census bureau.(PETER BELL/NATIONAL JOURNAL)
Small-Town Strength: In rural and small-town Iowa, even modest numbers of Latino immigrants can have a large impact. (In several places, the Latino share of the population is comparable to that of metropolitan Chicago.) Perry, a common campaign stop 40 miles northwest of Des Moines, has a population of 8,882 -- and one-third of those residents are Latino.(BETH REINHARD)
Alienated by Policy: In response to immigration concerns, GOP candidates have moved to the right with hopes of currying support from hard-line conservatives. Even Newt Gingrich, whose proposed immigration policy was tarred as "amnesty" by his rivals, signed a pledge with Americans for Securing the Border to build a "double fence" along the Mexican border.(CHARLES DHARAPAK/AP)