Elections are often more about perceptions than reality. Many voters form impressions based on accumulated images, words, and other messages that build up over the course of an election cycle and then act on those impressions.
To some degree, choices are shaped by community and family. Without those influences, there would not be “Irish Catholic Democrats” or “Western Republicans.”
But when perceptions spill over into caricature, it’s a problem. Right now, the Republican Party is in grave danger of succumbing to the caricature that it is an anti-immigrant party.
It’s a picture that has been painted, in part, by opportunistic Democrats. But it’s also been hastened by the harsh words and hard-line rhetoric of some Republicans.