The Impact Of Illegal Immigration In 2008 — A Tale Of Two Candidates

by John Hawkins | July 9, 2007 7:30 am

One of the wacky political theories that the Left and the open borders and amnesty crowd have been spreading around is that killing the illegal immigration bill is bad for the GOP because it will turn off Hispanics. (They’ve also been talking a lot about racist anti-Hispanic language from politicians which almost no one ever offers examples of, because they just make themselves look foolish like Linda Chavez did when she tried to pull it off.)

Well, first off, the evidence that the illegal immigration bill is a killer with Hispanics is pretty sparse. The percentage of the vote that the GOP got from Hispanics dropped from 2004 to 2006, but the same could be said about almost every demographic group. So, if there was a drop related to illegal immigration among Hispanics in 2006, it was relatively small. Moreover, I have yet to see a poll that shows any significant drop related to the 2007 illegal immigration bill with Hispanics.

Now, let’s consider something else: Hispanics make up 14% of the population which, of course, means that 86% of the population is not Hispanic. So, does it make sense for the GOP to hack off 86% of the US population in order to try to gain some tiny shift of perhaps 10% of the Hispanic vote in 2008?

Put another way, if the GOP could go from 30% of the Hispanic vote in 2006 to 40% in 2008, would it be worth supporting a bill that 86% of the population strongly opposes by a 2 to 1 margin — or perhaps more?

In order to determine the answer to that question, let’s take a look at candidates from two neighboring states, Lindsey Graham, and Elizabeth Dole, who took different positions on the illegal immigration bill. It’s also worth noting that both of these candidates are up for reelection in 2008.

Lindsey Graham is a senator from South Carolina who was one of the strongest backers of the amnesty bill. Here’s how it how it impacted him[1],

“Graham’s approval rating has sunk to 31 percent and he has a 40 percent disapproval rating, according to a poll released Friday by Atlanta-based InsiderAdvantage. The new poll points to Graham’s support for the Senate immigration bill, which includes a path to citizenship, as a likely reason for his apparent unpopularity.

His disapproval among Republicans is higher — 46 percent — than among Democrats –30 percent. Both give him an approval rating in the low 30s.

…While rumors of a primary against Graham have been tempered by last week’s indictment of state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, the poll shows the senator might be more vulnerable to an intra-party challenge than ever.

Graham has often been the target of primary rumors, and a November 2006 poll showed him performing better with Democrats. But in that poll, his overall approval rating was at 56 percent.

…Graham has yet to draw a major opponent from either party and is not thought of as a top Democratic target.”

But wait, if you listen to George Bush who has an approval rating of around 30%, Karl Rove who has guided Bush to his 30% approval rating, John McCain, whose presidential campaign is perceived to be cratering because of this issue, and Mel Martinez who has an approval rating in the twenties, Graham should be sitting pretty and the anti-amnesty senators should be bombing out.

So, how do you explain Lindsey Graham? Better yet, how do you explain Elizabeth Dole? Dole fought amnesty hard, and she got a lot of credit for opposing the bill. As a constituent of hers, who actually called her office while the immigration bill was on the floor, I can also tell you that she sent out letters telling N.C. residents who called that while she supported the fence bill that passed in 2006, she opposed the immigration bill on the Senate floor.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking now: You’re probably thinking, that poor deluded woman. Who would brag about voting against the immigration bill? Doesn’t she realize that’s political death? Oh, if only she had talked to political geniuses like George Bush, Karl Rove, Lindsey Graham, and Mel Martinez before she sent that letter out, they could have saved her so much grief!

So, let’s see how Elizabeth Dole is faring politically[2].

Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republican senators seeking re-election in 2008, has made a comeback with successful fund-raising and a boost in approval ratings.

Dole’s private polls put her favorability level at 59 percent, compared with President Bush’s 42 percent. Republican insiders attribute that mostly to her opposing the immigration bill backed by Bush. Thanks to effective second quarter fund-raising (at a level not yet announced), Dole is sitting on an estimated $2 million. She previously had been criticized as an ineffective first-term senator, mainly because of her national chairmanship of the failed 2006 Senate campaign.

Gov. Michael Easley, the strongest potential Democratic challenger so far, has resisted pleas that he run. Dole’s war chest may discourage lesser-known Democrats. But State Rep. Grier Martin, an Iraq war veteran, has family money for a possible candidacy.

Let’s see: Elizabeth Dole is up for reelection in North Carolina in 2008. She voted against the amnesty bill. Her approval rating surged to 59%.

On the other hand, Lindsey Graham is up for reelection in South Carolina in 2008. He voted for the amnesty bill. His approval rating plunged to 31%.

Gee,if only we had some way of figuring out which stance was more politically popular.

  1. how it impacted him:
  2. Elizabeth Dole is faring politically:

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