U.S.-Mexico Relations Under President Obama’s Second Term

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute has prepared the following series on the implications of President Barack Obama’s re-election.

Andrew Selee

Andrew Selee, Director, Mexico Institute, Vice President of Programs, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 11/07/2012

President Obama won reelection handily last night with a majority in both the popular vote and the Electoral College that far exceeded most predictions.  We can expect a continuation of Obama’s generally gracious, measured, and gradual approach to relations with Mexico, continuing close but incremental collaboration on public security, border infrastructure, and other issues.

However, the real story of the 2012 election is the tectonic shift in the electorate itself with Latino voters for the first time playing an oversized role in deciding the direction of the outcome.  Latino voters helped decide both the popular vote and key states like Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada for Obama.  There will be a serious debate in the Republican Party about how to reverse this trend, recognizing that the party’s demographic support base, which is overwhelmingly white, is no longer sufficient to win national elections.  This will empower sectors of the Republican Party that have long argued for a greater focus on Latino voters and a more moderate tone on immigration.  Democrats, in turn, will try not to cede the ground they have gained with Latino voters.

In the short-term, this is unlikely to lead to major policy changes, but in the long-term it is likely to increase U.S. foreign policy focus on Mexico and Latin America and to moderate the overall political tone on immigration issues.


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