I've blogged for years that the vast majority of the public - even conservative Republicans - don't consider immigration one of the top problems facing the country. And those that do tend to favor some kind of legalization program. The true antis represent only a small fraction of the populous. But to hear the Michelle Bachmans and Rick Santorums in the GOP primary race - as well as the general rhetoric from elected right wing politicians - you might not realize this.
But if you wanted to test my argument, just look at the Newt Gingrich campaign. He has been relatively moderate on immigration issues for years. I remember writing about his views when he was Speaker of the House in the 1990s. And his recent statements that he would favor some type of legalization program - the third rail for the antis - hasn't doomed his campaign. In fact, his numbers have continued to rise and rise. If he wins the GOP nomination, he's likely to become further emboldened to talk about practical approaches and he just might pick up a decent percentage of the Hispanic vote if they decide not to punish him for his party's general positions on the issue.