Thursday, January 31, 2008

In Romney vs McCain on immigration, what do their Congressional endorsements tell us?

The Republican race for the Presidency has effectively been winnowed down to John McCain and Mitt Romney.

The former's record on immigration is firmly established. He led the Republican charge against Proposition 200 in 2004, which was ultimately approved of and passed by 56%-44% of Arizonans. He put forward the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill. Americans for Better Immigration (run by NumbersUSA), which grades all members of Congress based on their immigration-related voting records, gives him a 'D'.

Mitt Romney is more of a question mark. His past Congressional donations do not reveal a pattern regarding their respective stances on immigration, although on net they've gone to those who are slightly more restrictive than Congress as a whole. He did little one way or another regarding illegal immigration while Governor of Massachusetts. On the campaign trail, Romney's gone after Giuliani for NYC's status as a sanctuary city under his mayorship, and he's criticized McCain for the aforementioned amnesty bill.

It's evident, at least in the blogosphere, many of those who plan to vote on the Republican side during the primaries are not particularly impressed by either candidate.

What about our elected leaders? With apologies to Machiavelli, perhaps the first method for measuring a man on the sincerity of his positions on immigration is to look at the legislative men he has behind him. Thus far, Romney has received 42 Congressional endorsements. There have been 36 for McCain.

Using AfBI's gradecard scoring system, I tracked the performance of those 78 congress critters. Regarding the way AfBI makes the grade calculations, in an attempt to remain as objective as possible, they are based on immigration reduction rather than looking at the nuances in legislation dealing with illegal immigration. They treat H-2A and H-1B visas in an equally negative light. If you see unskilled immigration from Latin America as disastrous but favor some sort of limited merit immigration system for the cream of the world's crop, it may not be optimal. But as the most comprehensive measure available, it is useful.

Romney's backers have a restrictionist GPA of 3.4 to the McCain crowd's 2.4. That's substantial. Of course, these endorsements are influenced by a whole host of considerations, of which Romney's perceived alignment with their legislative agenda on immigration is just one. But Romney does better than the GOP as a whole, while McCain performs even worse than the slate of Republicans who were thrown out in the '06 midterms--and that was a group of relatively open-borders Republicans--not to mention the party as a whole.

John Savage suggests that Mormonism tends to encourage a universalist one-worlder view. The implication is that Romney might, like McCain and Huckabee (only Ron Paul has been consistent in his opposition to things like the Visa Lottery system and the anchor-baby interpretation of the 14th Amendment), want to keep the flood gates open even though he's said otherwise during the campaign.

It's possible, but I don't see much indication that it is probable. Romney doesn't appear to wear his religion on his sleeve (although he does not smoke or drink), and it's hard to determine much about an individual based on the average tendencies of the demographic group he belongs to. In his 2004 book, Mormonism is apparently not a focal point (in making this assumption I'm going off of Amazon reader reviews--I've not read the book myself).

While Mormonism, like the gamut of Protestant denominations and Catholicism, is ecumenical by nature, Judaism is not. Yet Jews are consistently less restrictionist than Protestants or Catholics. A comprehensive Zogby survey found self-described 'born again' Christians to be the most strongly in favor of reducing immigration levels among the major religious classifications considered.

The circumstantial evidence points to Romney as a better choice than McCain for Republican primary voters concerned about immigration into the US.


Anonymous said...

Juan McCain.

Thats my opinion. Hope no one is offended.

agnostic said...

What Mormon beliefs are do not matter -- it's the personality types that predominate among Mormons that does. Ask anyone who knows them: there's a deep authoritarian streak in the culture.

Probably reflects that they are not a random sample of Northern Europeans, but were chosen based on authoritarianism among leaders and obedience among followers. May be how every religion starts off, but Mormonism hasn't had enough time to lose the founder effect.

Audacious Epigone said...


I've experienced as much in two unrelated Mormons I've known, both of which were pretty permiscuous teenagers who experienced with lots of drugs, and both had bad relationships with their authoritarian parents (one no longer lived with them even though she was 16). Clearly (at least in their minds) they were 'rebelling' against it.

And are you then suggesting Romney will be obedient to whatever Mormon leaders suggest he do? Or, as seems more probable given his staggering dominance among Mormons in Nevada (he took 95% of them), will Mormons strongly support his Presidency and all the objectives he puts forward during his time in office?

al fin said...

If Romney were a Muslim, I would certainly have second thoughts about his religion. Mormon? No problem. I've worked and trained with several devout Mormons, and can see no reason to excuse anti-Mormon bigotry.

McCain primary voters will feel the same way a year from now as Bob Dole voters felt the winter after the 1996 elections. Stupid.

Audacious Epigone said...

Al Fin,

I'm frustrated by the fact that apparently one-third of prospective California voters in the GOP's primary there believe he would do the best job on illegal immigration. The idea that McCain is somehow the anti-Bush stultifies me.

agnostic said...

I'm just saying, if he becomes President, expect him to take each simple everyday activity you do, and require you by law to jump through 10 hoops that have nothing to do with the activity -- just to show you that he can do so.

The Mormon line of thinking is, "If we require people to comply with a million pointless rules in order to do things, then they won't do things."

Audacious Epigone said...

That sounds more overbearing/borderline saddistic than just authoritarian. Even if that does characterize Romney, it's still preferable to an accentuation of the invite/invade the world McCain will continue.

Al Fin said...

The left is already clearing the lines of fire to attack McCain.

McCain is already toast, and he doesn't even know it yet. The media has given him an easy ride so far--which has lulled him to sleep. When they open up the big guns on him--with that temper of his--he is going to blow.

Vanishing American said...

I find it somewhat unsettling that any criticism of Mormonism is now being called 'anti-Mormon bigotry.' Is it not possible to have a principled objection to Mormonism in any way? Is any disapproval of or disagreement with Mormonism automatically 'bigotry'? If we say that, then a Romney presidency would probably result in even more politically correct deference to Mormonism because criticism would be 'bigotry', much as in an Obama presidency, criticism of him would be labeled racism and therefore honest discussion would be muted.

Has everyone read Allan Wall's VDare piece on Mitt Romney and the Mormon Question?
I think it's worth reading, and I would not call it anti-Mormon bigotry.

Audacious Epigone said...


I've read Wall's piece. It's long-overdue, and I'm glad he wrote it. I hope you don't get the wrong impression--I'm not accusing anyone of anti-Mormon bigotry. Mormonism is an exclusive religion in that it believes itself to be the chosen one, and in this sense the pious of other denominations are certainly entitled to their criticism of it. Further, the Mormon church is quite close to Mexico in many regards. I encourage as much 'investigation' as is possible.

My point is, I don't see an obvious reason to believe Romney--who by just about any measure has been enormously successful in, well, life--is going to take marching orders from his church. Virtually all major religious institutions in the US are in favor of open-borders, for unsubtle reasons: More potential members from countries that are more religious than just about anywhere in the contemporary first-world is.

I think Tancredo, Hunter, Paul, and even Al Gore would've been better on immigration than Romney will potentially be. But realistically, we're down to four players (or three--I think Obama is out, and Romney is a long-shot). Of the remaining candidates, it seems to me Romney is the most acceptable (or least unacceptable).