December 12, 2007


Immigration: Not Really A Third Rail (Reid Wilson, 12/13/07, Real Clear Politics)

A new poll from Zogby International suggests illegal immigration is unlikely to move a significant number of votes in the 2008 presidential race. But, say political strategists, the issue is fraught with danger for both parties.

Faced with a candidate with whom they agree on every other issue but disagree on immigration, 51% of likely voters said they would still support that candidate, while 32% said they would support a candidate with whom they agreed on immigration. That seems like a high percentage who would change their votes based on immigration policy. Instead, though, the rate is comparable to those who would change their votes based on health care policy (52% would still support the candidate while 29% would choose another) and federal tax policy (49% to 32%).

Republicans who have taken a hard line might stand to gain among the 43% of independents who might otherwise lean to Democrats who say they would switch their vote based on immigration policy. But in recent years, as the debate has shifted more toward anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric, those independents have not shown enough of a predilection to the GOP to tip any general election races. In fact, in 2006, many immigration advocates pointed out, not a single Congressional or Senate race can be said to have turned on immigration.

Strategists on both sides recognize immigration's lack of potency. "Immigration is not a vote-moving issue for most people, period," said Americans for Tax Reform chief Grover Norquist. Despite their focus on the issue, Republicans "have no scalps to show" for immigration, said Simon Rosenberg, founder and President of the New Democrat Network.

This year, Republicans look like they are pursuing the same strategy that served them so poorly last year.

...would run against the politics of W and Ronald Reagan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 12, 2007 12:00 AM
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