Immigration reform: Gop shouldn’t write it off

Published 16 years ago -  - 16y ago 37

group-of-people-1645356_1280Of all the post-election pontificating and damage control to appear since the conclusion of this year’s midterm elections, among the least persuasive was this piece for National Review On-Line by Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute.

Griswold argued that because the Republicans did so well (increased their majority in the House of Representatives, retook the Senate and defied all predictions by holding onto a majority of governorships), mass immigration is therefore not harmful to the political fortunes of conservatives within the GOP. This thesis that he claims to disprove incidentally made its most famous debut in a 1997 National Review cover story by Peter Brimelow and Ed Rubenstein entitled “Electing a New People,” now available on

This is of course a non sequitur. Just because current immigration patterns did not prevent Republican victories in 2002 does not prove that its long-term consequences will be beneficial or even neutral to the GOP. In fact, Steve Sailer’s analysis of the demographics of this election, which may be the most comprehensive available given the fate of the Voter News Services exit poll, show that the GOP won because its traditional base turned out in large numbers while immigrant groups and African-Americans did not. Insofar as these latter groups did vote, they generally voted Democratic by large margins.

The largest single immigrant group, as Griswold notes, is from Mexico. U.S. Census data shows that the number of Hispanic Americans grew by 58 percent between 1990 and 2000, mainly because of immigration. For this reason, Hispanic voters are, assuming current immigration patterns prevail, likely to determine which political party gains majority status in the future.

Griswold and Karl Rove believe that Hispanics can be turned into a GOP constituency relatively easily. That is of course not what many liberal political prognosticators, ranging from John B. Judis to The American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson predict. And the 2002 results show that Griswold and Rove have their work cut out for them. Even in cases where Republicans are believed to have won a respectable share of the Hispanic vote, such as the reelection of Govs. George Pataki of New York and Rick Perry of Texas, Hispanics still voted well to the left of the general electorate. While a larger percentage of Hispanics than blacks vote Republican, and there are more examples of Republicans carrying the Hispanic vote (e.g., Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Pete Domenici) than the black vote, even relatively successful GOP candidates generally lose by margins ranging from a high of 3 to 2 to a low 2 to 1.

Let’s consider Texas, which Griswold appears to regard as his ace in the hole. Gov. Perry won 33 percent of the Hispanic vote, which is not a particularly bad showing considering the fact that he was running against Democratic Hispanic businessman Tony Sanchez. Moreover, both Sanchez and Dan Morales, the Hispanic former state attorney general he beat in the Democratic primary, are to the right of the national Democratic Party. (Sanchez has in the past given money to George W. Bush’s campaigns; Morales endorsed Perry over Sanchez in this year’s general election.) Perry still won only a third of Hispanics while winning an eye-popping 70 percent of the non-Hispanic white vote. Are we to believe that if Republicans continue losing 2 to 1 among a growing demographic group they will do better?

Griswold is whistling past the graveyard if he does not notice how immigration has put such staples of the Republican electoral coalition as Arizona, New Mexico and Florida in play (Bill Clinton carried each of these states at least once). California has already gone from the state of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to one known for Barbara Boxer and Gray Davis. He certainly must notice that Republican presidential candidates in the 1990s – and even the victorious GOP ticket of 2000 – did worse in the Electoral College than they did in 1980, 1984 and 1988. Certainly, immigration isn’t the only or even the biggest reason for this – just as immigration isn’t the only reason (if it is even a reason at all) that Pat Buchanan did so poorly as a third-party candidate in 2000 (but Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-CO, did win 68 percent of the vote in 2002).

Finally, James Fulford is correct to point out that Griswold’s warnings to the GOP not to embrace immigration reform are contradictory. He argues simultaneously that Hispanics don’t naturalize and therefore don’t vote, may end up voting GOP anyway or will vote massively for Democrats if any immigration reform is attempted.

So does this mean the GOP should write off Hispanics and other new immigrants? Of course not. But neither should they be bamboozled into supporting unwise policies like bilingual education or amnesty for illegal immigrants in order to “reach out” to these groups. There is little evidence that these are losing issues. Moreover, most immigrant groups have voted more heavily Republican as they have assimilated. Uninterrupted mass immigration coupled with multiculturalism impedes rather than expedites this assimilation and thus is as politically self-defeating as it is wrong.

All Americans benefit from a strong, unified country. If Republicans allow winning the votes of new Americans to take precedence over this important objective, they will not deserve them.

Published originally at : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”

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