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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Immigration Still Huge Issue in Many Districts

Democrats should not be lulled into anything less than full attention to the issue of immigration in mid-term campaigns by reports that Congress will not be addressing the issue before the election. So says Carl Hulse in his New York Times piece “In Bellwether District, G.O.P. Runs on Immigration.” Hulse spotlights CO-7, encompassing Aurora, Colorado, where the immigration issue is particularly hot, but says:

And while Congress is unlikely to enact major immigration legislation before November, inaction does not make the issue any less potent in campaigning. In fact, many Republicans, on the defensive here and around the country over the war in Iraq, say they are finding that a hard-line immigration stance resonates not just with conservatives, who have been disheartened on other fronts this year, but also with a wide swath of voters in districts where control of the House could be decided.

Hulse provides no opinion polling data to indicate constituent sentiment in the district or nation-wide. However, the most recent polls by Newsweek/Princeton Survey Research, Fox News/Opinion Dynamics and the L.A. Times/Bloomberg give the Democrats a slight edge in public confidence on immigration. Yet Hulse sees many GOP candidates emphasizing a hard line, in contrast to the Administration’s position:

“Immigration is an issue that is really popping, “ said Dan Allen, a Republican strategist. “It is an issue that independents are paying attention to as well. It gets us talking about security and law and order.”
Leading Republicans, leery of a compromise on immigration, are encouraging their candidates to keep the focus on border control, as in legislation passed by the House, rather than accept a broader bill that would also clear a path for many illegal immigrants to gain legal status. The latter approach, approved by the Senate with overwhelming Democratic support and backed by the White House, makes illegal immigration one of the issues on which Republicans face a tough choice of standing by President Bush or taking their own path.
“The American people want a good illegal-immigration-reform bill,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House majority leader, “not a watered-down, pro-amnesty bill.”

None of which is to say that Dems can’t gain advantage with Hispanic voters in particular, or even voters in general, by taking a more conciliatory position. We can be sure only, that the issue will be raised by GOP candidates going forward to November 7.

4 comments on “Immigration Still Huge Issue in Many Districts

  1. oldhickory316 on

    Immigration is tough one for us Democrats: on the one hand giving our full attention and support to the hispanic community may win us more support from that part of the population – but illegal immigrants are ILLEGAL! It puts us in the position of looking weak when it comes to law and order. Plus these people ARE taking jobs from hard working LEGAL citiznes and underminding the labor movement in this country by giving employers the option of hiring illegals for low wages and minimal benefits rather than skilled union workers.

    Reply
  2. b on

    Do the posters or commenters on this site have polling data to illustrate how this issue plays with Latinos? I’ve read about voter registration efforts by immigrant rights groups. Are they successful? How many new voters have they signed up?
    The immigration issue could break both ways. In California, anti-immigrant measures caused real harm to the GOP by convincing Hispanic voters that the GOP doesn’t support them.

    Reply

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