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Michael Bennet Helped By Arizona Immigration Law: Public Policy Polling

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While polls have shown Arizona's controversial new immigration laws to be popular nationwide, the effects of the laws on electoral politics will be be far less clear cut, says Public Policy Polling (PPP).

In Colorado, for example, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet gained 3 points over possible Republican challenger Jane Norton in PPP's polling from March to May. One of the most significant factors in Bennet's gain was a shift in Hispanic voters, with whom the Democrat jumped out to a 21-point advantage in May, up from 12 points in March.

PPP has found Hispanic voters in the Mountain West trending more strongly Democratic since the passage of the Arizona immigration law in late April.

Bennet was appointed in 2008 to replace former Senator Ken Salazar, one of the few Latinos in the Senate at the time. However, he has struggled to gain widespread support among Hispanic voters. PPP's March poll found him trailing his Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff, 42%-32% among voters who identify as Hispanic.

The Arizona immigration laws require legal immigrants to carry paperwork at all times, and allow law enforcement to investigate anyone they deem suspicious of being in the country illegally. They have been called racist and unconstitutional by critics throughout the country.

PPP notes that the ultimate electoral effects of the Arizona laws will hinge on "whether there are white voters who are going to go Republican this fall who wouldn't have if that bill hadn't been passed."