Maggie Gallagher

Nevada should be a lock for Romney. It has an unemployment rate of almost 12 percent, and when discouraged workers are added in, its unemployment rate is over 21 percent. Median household income collapsed from $59,833 in 2008 to $48,927 in 2011. But the latest Gravis Marketing poll of 955 likely voters taken Oct. 24 shows Obama at 50 percent, Romney at 49 percent with a 3.2 percent margin of error.

What does this tell us? Whether or not Romney wins, Republicans must address their structural weakness with Latino voters.

If it's this close in Nevada, where Latinos make up more than a quarter of the vote, and the economy is this bad, conservatives need new strategies. Bringing out mariachi bands and chatting in Spanish every four years is not going to do the trick over the long haul, as the electorate becomes more Latino.

How? Here's a hint: Rather than putting corporate voices in charge, the key will be to bring religious conservative leaders forward -- to speak for the working class in this country, which has been unfairly tarred as racist for their reasonable human concerns about unlawful immigration -- but also to offer new help to children of immigrants stuck between the law and a hard place. The growing evangelical Latino presence, the Mormon church's strongly pro-immigrant stance, and the Southern Baptists' pro-immigration policies all suggest this is not a pie-in-the-sky suggestion.

For myself, as a first step this November, I'm going to do what my own Roman Catholic church has asked me to do at the ballot box in Maryland: vote against gay marriage and for the Maryland Dream Act, which gives children of illegal immigrants who graduate from Maryland high schools and pay Maryland taxes the right to in-state tuition at Maryland colleges, regardless of immigration status.


Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.