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Republicans Face a Choice: Expand or Expire
5 years ago

By Charlie Cook

As the immigration issue moves front and center in Congress, a chorus of GOP voices is warning that if immigrants—and, let’s face it, the debate is focused mostly on those from Mexico, Central America, and South America—are provided a path to citizenship, Republicans will never again win a national election. The same people also argue that Republicans would find it much harder to win statewide races in places such as Texas that now routinely fall into the GOP column. Implicit in both arguments is the notion that Republicans will remain a competitive party nationally and stay dominant in certain states if they can prevent Hispanic immigrants from becoming citizens and gaining voting rights.

But that position ignores the fact that the 45.5 million Hispanics already in this country legally areregistering to vote and are seeing the Republican Party as distinctly hostile. The more the GOP comes to be seen as fighting immigration reform, the more difficult it will be for Republican candidates to compete for this group of voters. Remember, 50,000 Hispanic citizens reach voting age every month.

Two historic events should be recalled as this debate begins in earnest. As recently as 2004, when President Bush was seeking reelection, having run aggressive Spanish-language advertising and outreach efforts in both his presidential campaigns, he garnered 44 percent of the Latino vote nationwide, an important factor in his 51 percent to 48 percent victory over John Kerry. Bush aggressively sought and received Hispanic votes—not a majority, mind you, but a very respectable share. He realized that many Latino voters, particular those rising into the middle class, would consider voting for a Republican.

In the intervening years, conservative activists, and more than a few elected Republican officials, have taken positions on immigration and other issues that resulted in Mitt Romney winning just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote last year. In 2012 congressional races, House Republicans garnered only 30 percent of the Hispanic vote. Given that Bush in 2004 won 58 percent of the white vote, 1 point less than Romney’s 59 percent in 2012, it’s easy to see that a decent share of the difference between the Bush and Romney results came from Latino voters. Ditto for congressional Republicans, who lost the national popular vote for the House last year.

Second, going back still further, Republicans used to win statewide offices in California fairly routinely; that is, until then-Gov. Pete Wilson decided to use the immigration issue to enhance his reelection chances in 1994. Proposition 187 was a ballot initiative that effectively denied illegal immigrants access to public education, state-provided health care, and other social services. This was the first time in modern history that immigration played a central role in a major statewide election. The strategy served Wilson well that year; he defeated state Treasurer Kathleen Brown, the daughter of the late Gov. Pat Brown and sister of current Gov. Jerry Brown, 55 percent to 41 percent. Prop 187 passed 59 percent to 41 percent.

That election and proposition became a watershed for the Golden State’s Republican Party. Before Prop 187, the GOP carried California in nine of 12 post-World War II presidential elections, including six in a row from 1968 through 1988. Admittedly, the ticket was twice headed by Richard Nixon and twice by Ronald Reagan, both Californians. Even so, in 1988, George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis 51 percent to 48 percent in the state. Since Prop 187, Republican presidential candidates have lost California in all five elections.

In 16 California races for the U.S. Senate pre-Prop 187, Republicans and Democrats each won eight times. One Republican win occurred during President Johnson’s landslide victory over GOP Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1964. Since 1994, Republicans have lost six Senate elections in a row.

How about the governorship? From the end of World War II until 1994, Republicans won the Governor’s Mansion six times, Democrats four. Democrats have won three times since; outlier Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger won that extraordinary recall election in 2003 and was reelected in 2006, although he was hardly an ordinary Republican. Those are the only post-Prop 187 GOP gubernatorial victories in the state.


5 years ago

And lieutenant governor? Republicans won the state’s No. 2 post six times between the end of the World War II and 1994; Democrats won it twice. Since 1994, Democrats have four victories to the GOP’s zero. For state attorney general, before Prop 187, Republicans won four times, Democrats five. Since then, Democrats have taken the post four times, Republicans zero. This same basic pattern holds up for secretary of state and state treasurer. Proposition 187 and Wilson’s reelection campaign’s use of it proved to be Pyrrhic victories for the GOP, all but killing off the Republican Party as a political force statewide.

Most of the best minds in the Republican Party know that doubling down on opposition to immigration reform is a losing proposition. As Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina recently put it, the Republican Party is in a demographic death spiral. Republicans have an opportunity to pull out of it if they can find a way to take immigration off the table, shut up or subdue the more extreme voices in their party, and stop alienating Hispanics—and, for that matter, Asian voters (Obama’s winning margins among Asians ended up slightly wider than among Hispanics). The challenge for Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other GOP leaders is how to get immigration reform through Congress without ripping their party apart. I’d say, “That’s why they get paid the big bucks,” but they don’t get paid nearly enough to navigate challenges as great as this one.


5 years ago

Okay, this one speaks volumes and I have to apologize for ripping Rubio.  The man obviously knows more about this than I do and he is trying to get this done in a way that will pass both parties.  

I do think that it is time, if the Republican Party wishes to continue or to win any elections or produce any positive conservative legislation, that they will have to look more closely at the real issues and realize that there has to be modification.  

Allow the amnesty as that is the best possible solution for those already here, but get the borders closed down and stop the continued illegal immigration and put laws in place for those that come here illegally in the future.  That can be done and is what I see Rubio and the Republicans are trying to accomplish.  Only fools, at this point, would feel that you can send them all home, again, it won't happen and we can't afford to even try to do this.  

We missed the boat as a Country by not addressing this more seriously when it began to become a real issue; we didn't.  That means the Republicans under 2 Bush presidencies had the chance and they didn't do it.  It goes back to Reagan and he didn't get it done, either.  It is not new, it has been happening for that many years.  Problem, we waited until it became a economic crisis to think about addressing it.  It is not just a plan of the Democrats to allow it, it is a failure of both parties to allow the crisis.  We have to take our responsibiity for our lack of response to this over the years, as do the Democrats.

I think it is time to stop bashing the GOP in Congress as they are not doing as we think they should and looking at the picture realistically and supporting their efforts and yes, if this Party is to survive, we have to stop making a huge issue of everything and pick the battles that are the most crucial for the overall good of the Country.  

And why not allow these people work visas?  That way they are paying taxes and not just getting entitlement with no contribution.  I can't speak for the South and Central Americans; my experience at least with the few South Americans that have come here legally was not that good as their work ethic is more toward entitlement.  But I do know that both the legal and illegal Mexicans are not here for freebees; they are here to work and work hard, save up money and send it home to help their families and to work to pay their own way.  Yes, some need some assistance to get started.  Most are willing to learn English but it won't happen overnight, so make it a requirement with a realistic time frame and do something positive.

I will say that of all the Mexicans I have worked with or known, they have had excellent work ethics and yes, like the sound of it or not, they are more than willing to do the dirty jobs that Americans turn their noses up at and they don't complain.  They are just happy to have work.  Many of them work 2 or 3 jobs to provide for their families here and to help the families at home.  In most cases both the husband and wife and any employable children (15 or over) are working as well.  So, let's try to be a positive part of a workable solution, no more just sitting back and complaining.  That is so counterproductive and no solution to the issue at all.  If we do that we are just as bad as the liberals out there doing the same. 

5 years ago

---The border has to be closed tightly before amnesty occurs.  I watched a program on PBS a few weeks ago about the border crossings and the number of people dying trying to cross the desert in the US.  I always thought that a tall fence prevented them from crossing, but they're even digging under the fences we have built and the holes have to be filled in with concrete.   While I don't approve of these people trying to enter our country illegally, I understand why they try.  This program was incredibly sad.  Some bodies were identified & sent back to their families in Mexico, but others never could be identified and families had no idea what happened to their loved ones.

---There is a need for an increased availability of those English classes. I've heard that there aren't enough.  What level of proficency is expected?  I don't think it has to be extremely high.   Just a basic knowledge. 

---Back to border control.  It's not just a matter of controlling the flow of all those hard working people who want to provide better lives for their families, there's the problem of the drug cartels.  El Paso, among other US cities, is having to deal with drugs brought across the border by mules & by other means, related murders, etc. and Mexico has a lot of chutzpah complaining about our trying to do something about our borders. (When is Eric Holder going to be held accountable for Fast & Furious btw?) If Mexico wasn't such a sh*thole for many of the people who live there, fewer people would want to flee to here.   Many would probably prefer to live in their own country if conditions were better, but Mexico is not about to change anytime soon unfortunately.  

---This is a problem that has not been adequately addressed for decades as you pointed out Linda.   Reagan did not handle amnesty well and I was disappointed in how W. handled (or should I say didn't handle the problem).  Democrats certainly haven't helped either to say the least.  Some loons have suggested eliminating the border all together.  What a recipe for disaster.  

---Border control before all else.  Not easy or inexpensive, but it has to be done. 

5 years ago

I'm definitely for a new immigration bill to be passed.  But, I want the borders strengthened first!  The Democrats say, "let's pass this bill and then we'll work on the border problems.  Oh, please, we know that will never get done.  How many other promises have they made and then nothing IS done.  I hope the House is smart enough to remember and say, "Fool me once, etc."  After all, the Democrats WANT more people to cross over -- more votes! 


And, somewhere in that bill is a passage that states that Homeland Security "big sis" can make the law to suit her own political leanings.  In other words - she will listen to the Democrats.  And, if you look at all the garbage that's been added (pork) from the Senate bill, it has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with immigration.  It's nothing more than an opportunity for the Democrats to hoodwink the Republicans into a bill that will be a disaster.


When are our "esteemed" members of the Senate and the house EVER going to listen to the American people.  They don't give a rats toot how we feel anymore.  It truly is discouraging to see these people who are elected to represent the people - NOT give a darn! 


And when are they ever going to pass a bill that doesn't have a pile of garbage tied to it.  To save frogs, the arts, fish, birds, etc. 


And, getting pack to border control - along with Mexicans - what other unsavory people are coming into this country to cause harm.  The mexicans are coming because their own country is turning into a filthy place to live and raise their children.  And does the government of Mexico care -- no.  They don't have to have them on their welfare rolls anymore.  But the illegals coming from Mexico (last I heard) aren't armed with pressure cookers and other explosive devises.  Or a desire to blow up Amricans! 


Yes, Rubio has a good plan, however, the plan, as far as I'm concerned, isn't worth a tinkers darn if they don't beef up the borders first. 

5 years ago

Ladies, no argument from me, it has to be done and yes, dealing with the drug situation is a must as well.  We have so many people of out work, a lot of returning military personnel that are finding it hard to find work as well.  Let's put them to work on the borders.  If we are going to give incentive money, give it to them to relocate to the south and for hazzardous pay.  Then put them to work patrolling the borders.  It is not that it can't be done (patrols) it is that we don't have enough men to do this; so, utilize the armored vehicles and our men that are returning from Afghanistan/Iraq and need employment.  Supplement them with able bodied men that need employment.  That is creating jobs, I think.

5 years ago

Put our veterans who are out of work on our borders.    Who better to protect the United States of America than our veterans?    They would have to relocate to these border towns and in so doing they will drive the revenue up in those towns by renting homes, buying homes, food, supplies, clothing, paying taxes, buying know, staples.  


Think of the jobs this would create for Americans who desperately need jobs.

5 years ago

Absolutely NO immigration bill period!!! The bill out of the Senate is a farce and contains a lot of things that have nothing to do with "immigration", has fig leafs as a "border security" basis since it leaves the decision up to the administration that has deliberately FAILED to perform both border and interior security, rewards criminal behavior that is in addition to just illegal border crossing, has tons of money in it for special interest groups that will facilitate Dem voter registration, will exacerbate both our unemployment problem and huge outlays of social spending that is the driver of our deficit, will contribute to more groups now in the open that will not assimilate, and will encourage both more illegal immigration as well as more chain migration. We've been down this road before and it has been an utter failure. Border security, visa tracking, and E-verify implementation can be done without any additional legislation by enforcing laws now on the books and spending money that had been allocated in the past. All you have to know about this farce is who is pushing this "reform" and who in the Senate was involved in producing another bill that has the size and stench of ObamaCare.

5 years ago

So the solution is to do nothing and continue as we have since at least Reagan's term, just ignore it and it will go away?  Is that the solution, John?  As I woiuld agree that the borders have to be secured but a fence is not going to do it; that is there has not stopped them.  There are the storm drains, the tunneling, etc.   So a fence, unless you bury it 1000 Feet below the surface or so, is not going to stop them

So, again, we complain but we offer no workable solution to the problem that does have to be addressed and dealt with or we will sink as a Nation with the debt incurred alone.  Sorry, but "No Amnesty" will not resolve the issue.  Amnesty of some sort has to happen at some point whether we like it or not. 

5 years ago

Linda: What has been done is no "solution" We have an administration that has failed to do border security, deliberately curtailed internal security via ICE, apparently cannot even track terror suspects like the deceased the Boston bomber and his terror connected family that entered legally, allows illegals to scam the system with tax refund cheating, advertises benefits like food stamps, has released criminal aliens using "sequestration" as an excuse, illegally put "kids" (the definition and determination of which is flaky) brought in by illegal parents on the fast track to citizenship with no real controls, taken legal action against state and local governments that have tried to enforce the immigration laws, hasn't built the fence or put in a visa tracking system already authorized, has demoized anyone that questions their actions, and is pushing a huge ObamaCare style bill as a "solution" to their past failure. Now we have a huge bill not read by those that voted for it (AGAIN!!), rushed through at the last minute (AGAIN), full of pork and special treats for various Senators and special interests for votes (AGAIN), provides the same "promises" on border security/visa tracking/employer verification with enough hedges that they will not occur (AGAIN), gets a rosy review from the Congressional Budget Office on economic and fiscal effects (like the lies in ObamaCare), has nice little goodies in there for special interest groups (like LaRaza), is being pushed by the usual crew of Demagogue politicians/scared RINOs/corporate interests/"immigrant rights" groups, and now subject to a huge propaganda campaign by alleged "conservative" groups on TV and radio that is based on lies. Why more of the same and more of the lousy legislative process we've seen the last few years is a "solution" to a problem that really hasn't been defined sufficiently, has remedies in law today that are being ignored deliberately, is a political move, and is being rushed to prevent those in the US who are citizens or legal residents from expressing their opinions or determining how it will affect them

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