February 13, 2008


Lesson: immigration is a dud issue (David Hill, 02/12/08, The Hill)

The anecdotal evidence pours in daily that immigration is a dud as an electoral issue, even in a Republican primary. And even the empirical results of exit polls are starting to demonstrate the same point.

You’d think that someone would notice that the first candidate to drop from the GOP field, Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.), was also the candidate who built his campaign almost entirely around the immigration issue. You might also think it worth mentioning that the only significant candidates to still be competing on the Republican side — John McCain and Mike Huckabee — have the least strident views on immigration. Immigration baiters, like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani went to the showers early. Someone should ask: If the immigration issue is such a “killer” issue, why are its staunchest advocates such losers?

Looking at exit polls from Super Tuesday, I focused on mid-America’s Missouri to try and understand how this issue has fizzled. Missouri’s heterogeneous electorate provides an interesting cross-section that includes urban, suburban and rural voters. It’s not an immigration hot spot like some border or Sun Belt states, but it is being touched by immigration, just as most parts of the nation are. Estimates of the number of illegal aliens residing in Missouri range from 35,000 to 65,000.

The exit poll predictably found that a majority of Missouri primary Republicans took the harshest position on immigration.

Fifty-five (55) percent say the answer to illegal immigrants is to deport them. Only 22 percent favor a guestworker program and 21 percent support a path to citizenship. While most Americans and even most Republican identifiers would not be so callous — majorities seldom champion mass deportation — it is not surprising that primary Republicans would talk tough.

But tough talk wasn’t followed by any meaningful action. Just ask the Mitt Romney campaign. Of the Missouri Republicans who favored deportation, just 34 percent voted for Mitt Romney. He was tied by Mike Huckabee, the guy with the soft heart that anti-immigration zealots fear would give away the store to illegals. Even John McCain, architect of the Senate’s guest-worker program that some call amnesty, received the votes of 25 percent of the deportation crowd. Add up Huckabee’s and McCain’s votes and you get almost 60 percent, crushing Romney’s 34 percent.

...that the American voter has left himself a choice among only the four open border candidates.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 13, 2008 7:42 AM

McCain has said he will close the border, are you implying he is lying?

Posted by: Perry at February 13, 2008 10:11 AM

Is that a trick question?

Anti-immigrationism is the populism of the right. Politicians of the left and right assume that their version of populism just has to work, ignoring the fact that it never has. Neither Edwards or Tancredo could even get close to their party's nomination.

Posted by: Ibid at February 13, 2008 10:45 AM

No. For Oj's comment to be true, McCain would need to be a lyer.

Besides, who is talking about "anti-immigration", complete nonsense of a strawman.

Posted by: Perry at February 13, 2008 11:17 AM

Did Mac say he'd "close" the border? Or rather "secure" it?

I want the border "secured" too -- I want it secure enough to allow a few 100,000 Mexicans to emigrate every year across it.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 13, 2008 11:20 AM

Perry: My point is that of course McCain is lying. He has no intention of securing the border because securing the border is impossible. The border is about 20,000 miles long and includes remote forests, woods, lakes and 12,500 miles of coastline. It can't be secured.

Of course, by "border" you just meant the best-secured 1300 miles between the US and Mexico. Now, what were you saying about not begin a racist?

Posted by: Ibid at February 13, 2008 11:41 AM

Of course he'll lie to the Darwinist Right, it's what decent Republicans do.

Posted by: oj at February 13, 2008 12:33 PM

Note also that Huey Long/Pat Buchanan/Bob Shrum business-bashing populisim is also a loser. The most "populist" candidates--Edwards, Huckabee--aren't going to be the nominee, and they aren't going to have a significant effect on who will be the nominee.

Posted by: Mike Morley at February 13, 2008 1:26 PM

Ok Ibid, noticed you dropped your insane anti-immigration charge, baby steps for you.

As far as the new one, I don't want 15 million lilly white illegal Canadians here either, so you can now acuse me of hating Mounties?

I do agree however, racism is at the heart of the immigration debate. Growth economics, 401k K's, housing prices, can't be properly supported without adding a worker class as modern day liberals have destroyed the one we had.

Use'um and lose'em Ibid?

Posted by: Perry at February 13, 2008 1:46 PM

Yeah, the ones who want to keep the brown people out are the benevolent ones. What ever you've got to tell yourself to sleep at night, I suppose.

As for the weird idea that our economy depends upon low-skilled workers we exploit (you know, the one's that are so desperate to be exploited that they risk their lives to come here), that's just remarkably ignorant. It is, in fact, exactly wrong. The only thing that depends upon a steady supply of cheap young labor that can be excluded from the legal workforce is the welfare state.

Posted by: Ibid at February 14, 2008 7:21 AM