Has GOP Miscalculated On Immigration? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

New polling indicates Republican voters may not be content to see the Party delay any immigration reform past the end of 2006 and it appears that these same voters may not agree with the Republican controlled House on how to handle those illegal’s who are already in the United States. You can find the entire Reuters article here.

The poll, commissioned by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, found that 82 per cent of likely Republican voters supported tightening the borders and imposing tougher penalties on illegal immigrants and employers who hire them.

It said about 80 percent of Republicans support an earned legalization program to give immigrants legal status. The majority, 68 percent, also oppose deportation for illegal immigrants, the poll said.

Thought Theater previously commented on the possible calculations being made by the GOP with regards to immigration here. There has been speculation that the victory in the CA-50 race to replace jailed Congressman Duke Cunningham may have been the result of Republican candidate Brian Bilbray's tough position on immigration. It appears to me that some regional races may have their own particular immigration dynamics but the overall sentiment of GOP voters may present a problem for the Party in other races. It is easy to see why the GOP has seemingly elected to shy away from this difficult issue.

About 72 per cent of the Republicans surveyed said it was important to solve the problem of illegal immigration this year, according to the poll.

But the House and Senate, both under Republican control, have passed competing versions that must be reconciled to become law. The House version calls for tough border control and workplace enforcement but does not include a citizenship plan as in the Senate's version.

Republican congressional leaders say it will be hard to complete a bill before November's midterm elections. Some Republicans called for new hearings that could postpone an agreement even more.

Perhaps the most significant data in the poll are the following numbers that show national security and immigration as the top two issues for GOP voters. My impression is that the Republicans will attempt to make security a feature of their midterm campaign while attempting to portray Democrats as weak on terror. However, if the Republicans actually ignore the immigration issue, I believe it provides the Democrats an opportunity to counter the GOP's "strong on security" midterm strategy. Without passage of tougher border security, Democrats should be able to argue that the country is not, in fact, any safer.

National security is still the top concern for the Republican voters at 20 percent, but immigration came second in the poll at 15 percent.

Daniel DiRito | June 22, 2006 | 5:16 PM
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