Breaking Blue

I’m back from Albuquerque, emptying the trusty notebook, and my longest dispatch takes you from the urban core of the state to the Navajo Nation to the exurbs to explain how the state stopped being winnable for Republicans. Reagan won it twice. Bush narrowly lost it, then won it. The new GOP, the one with Hispanic support in the 20s, is ill-equipped to compete, and the state has plenty of poor voters terrified of Paul Ryan’s party.

Nobody covers up the reasons for the swing. Republicans admit it: They alienated Hispanic voters and they paid for it. “The reason that a lot of Hispanic independents and conservatives are so uncommitted is because the tone coming out of the [Republican primary] debates was so strident,” says Rep. Steve Pearce, who represents basically all of New Mexico south of Albuquerque. “They all got painted a bad picture. I’ve spent a long time with the Romney campaign on Hispanic and immigration issues. It was us who suggested that you ought to go onto Univision and speak to Hispanic audiences. And his tone was a lot softer. We get the tone right, and we’d be OK.” But it’s a struggle. “I love the Tea Party, but they’re hitting the gas on this issue.” Keep reading, you. Not unrelated: Democrats have a chance in hell at winning a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona, something they haven’t pulled off since 1988.