How important is immigration?

In a post earlier today I wrote about some research suggesting that immigration will drive white voters to the Republican Party.  Absent some more data on the matter, I remain fairly skeptical.  That said, even with all the attention of late, I was wondering just how strongly Americans feel about immigration.  And, as Gallup shows, concern is definitely up fairly substantially, but it is still a small portion of the public for whom this is a preeminent issue:

Trend: What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today? (open-ended)

That 17% for immigration is, of course, quite a jump over a recent average of about 4%, but I strongly suspect that most of those among the jump are Fox News viewers, etc., who are not exactly amenable to Democrats anyway.  Furthermore, I quite doubt this percentage will remain so high going into November (unless that’s what the Republicans choose to run on and emphasize, of course).  Anyway, for this issue to truly contribute substantially to a realignment of white voters, it seems to me that you just really need to have more people consistently concerned about the issue.

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If a Constitutional rights falls in a forest…

A federal judge in Alabama ruled (quite rightly) that Alabama’s latest TRAP law is clearly an undue burden on the constitutional right to obtain a pre-viability abortion.  Love the analogy the judge used to make his point:

Thompson said the state’s argument that the admitting privilege requirement protects women’s health is “exceedingly weak.”

“In light of the safety of abortions, the rarity of serious complications, and the robust regulation and oversight of clinics in Alabama, the court is firmly convinced that the Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery clinics currently have strong complication-care policies in place and, when complications have arisen, they provided quality care to their patients,” he wrote.

The judge concluded his 172-page decision by comparing abortion rights to gun rights in Alabama.

“Suppose, for the public weal, the federal or state government were to implement a new restriction on who may sell firearms and ammunition and on the procedure they must employ in selling such goods and that, further, only two vendors in the State of Alabama were capable of complying with the restriction: one in Huntsville and one in Tuscaloosa,” Thompson wrote, referring to the locations of the two abortion clinics that would have been able to stay open. “The defenders of this law would be called upon to do a heck of a lot of explaining — and rightly so in the face of an effect so severe.”

Exactly.  Imagine if a state passed a law that said since guns are so inherently dangerous, every gun store would be required to pay a police office to stand guard 24/7 and that special, expensive reinforced walls were required in case a gun accidentally discharged in the store.  Many gun stores would , understandably, have to shut down in those circumstances.  You can just imagine how much the right would be up in arms about the right to bear arms.  This is really pretty much the same thing and good for the judge for putting it terms that the right can understand.

Photo of the day

Very cool gallery of colorized photos.  I’m much more impressed by the photos from back when color photography was non-existent or a rarity.  Like this one here, of Mark Twain:

20

Mark Twain in 1900

(No photo credit at site)

Can white people save the Republican Party?

Interesting column from Chris Cilizza looking at some political science research that suggests that white Americans are becoming more Republican over the issue of immigration and that this can, at least in the short-term, counter the shrinking white portion of the electorate:

It’s a widely accepted idea that Republicans are sitting on a demographic time bomb: The GOP is getting whiter and whiter in terms of the voters it attracts even as the country is growing increasingly diverse.

Marisa Abrajano, an associate professor of political science at the University of California at San Diego, doesn’t dispute that basic notion in a new study of the electorate. But she does suggest that the time bomb may well have a very long fuse — and that in the time before it explodes, Republicans could actually benefit electorally from a consolidation of the white vote…

Abrajano suggests that a much more overlooked number from the 2012 election might be more telling in terms of how immigration — and the policies the two parties propose to address it — will affect elections in the near term. That number is 20 — the percentage-point margin by which Romney beat Obama among white voters.

That was the second-largest margin among white voters for a Republican presidential nominee in three decades. (Only Ronald Reagan in 1984 won the white vote by a larger margin, and the Gipper did that in an election in which he was carrying 49 states against Walter Mondale.)…

“In 1980 white Democrats dominated white Republicans numerically,” Abrajano argues. “As immigration’s impact on America has grown, whites have fled to the Republican party in ever larger numbers. The end result is that the principal partisan choice of white America has been totally reversed.”

 In essence, she argues, the prominence of immigrants and immigration issues as well as the two parties’ varying responses to those issues have made it increasingly likely that the white vote will continue to consolidate behind Republican candidates in the near to mid-term.

The past two elections suggest that Abrajano may be on to something. Not only did Romney hit a near-historic high in the white vote in 2012, but Republicans won the white vote in the 2010 midterms by 23 points — a massive margin considering that whites comprised 77 percent of the overall electorate.

Interesting, but I’m not entirely persuaded.  My sense is that the areas of the country where white voters already strongly lean Republican (i.e., the South) may very well see this trend increase, but I have my doubts as to whether we will see a significant movement of whites to the Republican party throughout the rest of the country.  This may be enough to offset demographic changes in states such as Georgia and Texas, but on a national scale, I suspect this will largely serve to make red states even redder, rather than turning blue areas purple or preventing purple areas from becoming blue.  Of course, time will tell, but I will remain politically and personally optimistic that we don’t see a situation where many more states come to resemble Mississippi where 90% of the whites vote Republican.

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