A Cold Look at the Hard Facts behind Obama’s Re-Election: Immigration Pandering Not the Variable

Published on December 17th, 2012

By Joe Guzzardi
November 12, 2012

As the post-presidential election dust settles, let me present a fact-based analysis of why Mitt Romney lost. Despite what you have read dozens of times, the reasons don’t include Hispanics overwhelming support of President Obama or, a variation of the same theme, that Romney didn’t resonate with Hispanics.

While those two factors are undeniably true, Romney lost for different reasons. Middle class white Americans, who should be Romney’s base, didn’t vote for him in significant enough numbers to put him over the top.

The media has relentlessly, almost deliriously, reported that Hispanics delivered Obama the White House. But if you look at several of the swing states, the Hispanic population isn’t big enough to make a difference. In Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Hispanic fractions are 3 percent or less versus 80 percent or higher white totals. Iowa is 93 percent white. Yet, Romney lost all four states because he couldn’t capture the white vote, most likely because working class Americans don’t identify with economic libertarianism or Wall Street rich guys.

If the Hispanic vote is as crucial as the media would like you to believe, how does anyone explain Nevada and Texas, 27 and 38 percent Hispanic, yet which elected by comfortable margins Republican senators Dean Heller and Ted Cruz?

The widespread conclusion among journalists and many in GOP leadership is that Republicans must immediately join with Democrats to pass a comprehensive amnesty for illegal aliens. Allegedly, a GOP-endorsed amnesty would demonstrate to Hispanics that Republicans “get it” and should be considered the political equal to Democrats on immigration.

This argument, advanced mostly by Washington D.C. Hispanic lobbyists, doesn’t hold water. Ask yourself this simple question: If Romney had campaigned as vigorously on immigration entitlements as Obama, would he have been elected? The answer is a resounding no. A majority of Hispanics vote Democratic—period.

Recent history proves my point. In 2008, the GOP nominated Arizona Senator John McCain, co-sponsor with Ted Kennedy of the failed 2006 amnesty bill. No Republican had a longer, more supportive track record on behalf of Hispanics than McCain. Yet Obama, only a college student when McCain cast his first House votes for Hispanic causes, trounced his opponent. McCain won a mere 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, only fractionally more than Romney’s 28 percent.

No matter the evidence that on immigration the GOP can’t move left of Democrats and that amnesty wouldn’t benefit the party, several prominent Republicans including House speaker John Boehner have foolishly signaled that they’re willing to consider it.

Here’s the likely sequence of events after the 113th Congress convenes. The Senate will introduce amnesty legislation. Although Senate Democrats are in the majority, passing an immigration bill is by no means a certainty. Pro-enforcement Republicans are well enough represented in the Senate to mount a fierce challenge. If the Senate prevails and the bill reaches the House, it would likely be dead on arrival. The new House Judiciary Committee chair, Bob Goodlatte, opposes amnesty in any form and has the necessary allies to block Democrats’ efforts to ram it through.

Former U.S. Representative Martin Frost (D-TX), who lost his House seat in 2008 in part because of his immigration advocacy, explains that “ No year is ever a good year to seek immigration reform….The Obama administration should…not waste capital on this most difficult of all subjects.”

Long, drawn out immigration battles take precious time away from more pressing, paramount issues like the fiscal cliff, Afghanistan and the deeply flawed Obamacare, to name only a few.

The best reason to reject amnesty is that it’s bad legislation. Increased immigration hurts everyone—most especially those in the lowest economic sectors including recent immigrants who are struggling to find jobs and support their families.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]

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