Saturday, November 01, 2008

Refutations of common open borders talking points

Conservative pundits complain not of, say, the NYT's leftist op/ed board, but that it bleeds into paper's hard news stories. An article by Jonathan Weisman demonstrates the same at the WSJ. He relays Kimberly Strassel's narrative of GOP fortunes on the front page:

Between 2000 and this year, the Hispanic electorate will have doubled, to 12% of voters, according to Census data and NDN, a Democratic group that studies the electorate. That growth has been concentrated in once-Republican states, not only in the Mountain West but in the South. By 2006, Hispanics represented 31% of voters in New Mexico, 13% in Nevada, 11% in Florida and 8% in Colorado.
Strassel made the same argument more than a year ago, and rehashed it again a day before Weisman's article*. The refutations haven't changed since then. The percentage of the actual votes cast by Hispanics will be about half that, because eligible (we're not talking about illegal immigrants or temporary legal residents, only about those who are able to legally register) Hispanics are less likely than eligible whites or eligible blacks to actually vote. Pew Research reports:

About 54% of Hispanics who were eligible to vote registered in November 2006. Among whites and blacks, the figure was 71% and 61%, respectively.
Fredo Arias-King, former advisor to Mexican President Vicente Fox, offers insight into why this is the case:

While Democratic legislators we spoke with welcomed the Latino vote, they seemed more interested in those immigrants and their offspring as a tool to increase the role of the government in society and the economy. Several of them tended to see Latin American immigrants and even Latino constituents as both more dependent on and accepting of active government programs and the political class guaranteeing those programs, a point they emphasized more than the voting per se. Moreover, they saw Latinos as more loyal and "dependable" in supporting a patron-client system and in building reliable patronage etworks to circumvent the exigencies of political life as devised by the Founding Fathers and expected daily by the average American.

Republican lawmakers we spoke with knew that naturalized Latin American immigrants and their offspring vote mostly for the Democratic Party, but still most of them (all except five) were unambiguously in favor of amnesty and of continued mass immigration (at least from Mexico). This seemed paradoxical, and explaining their motivations was more challenging. However, while acknowledging that they may not now receive their votes, they believed that these immigrants are more malleable than the existing American: That with enough care, convincing, and "teaching," they could be converted, be grateful, and become dependent on them. Republicans seemed to idealize the patron-client relation with Hispanics as much as their Democratic competitors did.
Citizens calling Congressional offices and organizing recall petitions are such a pain! It'd be much better if they'd just resignedly accept the way the political elite conducts its business.

Further, the swing states are whiter and blacker, at the expense of Hispanics and Asians, than the electorally reliable states are. To those four states that are more Hispanic than the nation as a whole is, this election's swing states of Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana, and Indiana are less Hispanic and more white than the country at large.

Indeed, the electorally-safe states are more than twice as Hispanic as the competitive states are. The competitive states, conversely, are whiter than the safe states are. So the nearly 80% of the national electorate that will be white understates the importance of the white vote, while the 6% or 7% of the national vote that will be cast by Hispanics overstates the importance of the Hispanic vote.

This doesn't negate the fact that the four states mentioned are experiencing demographic changes that will give them a permanent blue hue. California, which voted Republican in all three Presidential elections in the eighties, became forever blue in '92. As whites--the racial group that always votes Republican in Presidential elections (as opposed to blacks and Hispanics, neither of which ever have as long as national exit polling has been conducted)--became a minority in California, so did Republicans. As Cali goes, so goes the country.

Weisman asserts something there is no evidence for:

Demographics also shifted in the right places to give Democrats a lift. ... A concerted Republican campaign to curb illegal immigration turned a wave of new foreign-born voters against the GOP in Florida, Nevada and Colorado, just as the Latino vote in those states was growing.
Is there a single (Presidential, House, Senate, or Governor) race for which exit polling exists in which a Republican's Hispanic support was greater than his white support? I've not been able to find one. Yet Weisman tells it as though each time a growing Hispanic population offers Republicans a chance to seize victory, every single time they lose out from it (presumably because of their anti-immigration positions).

The much more obvious explanation that has mountains of empirical backing is that Hispanics are more likely to support Democrats than whites are. It holds no matter where in the US we look. It's hardly surprising that a group much less likely graduate from college (even four generations in), more likely to use welfare, experiences higher illegitimacy and poverty rates, and is more criminally-prone than whites are (in addition to being 'eligible' for affirmative action benefits) is also more likely to vote Democratic than whites are. New Hispanic arrivals fare more poorly than those who've been in the US for an extended period of time do, and consequently are probably even more likely to support Democrats than those who are more established are.

It's likely that federal enforcement of immigration laws will become even more lax under either Obama or McCain. As unskilled Hispanic immigration continues, Hispanic support for the Democratic party will grow. Open borders supporters like Weisman and Strassel will continue to point at restrictionists, but unless the Republican party moves to the left of the Democratic party on economic issues and several social issues, it's inevitable that more Hispanics will translate into Democrats.

Weisman offers the following, parroting Strassel:
President Bush and his political team were able to ride that wave, nearly doubling the GOP's share of the Latino vote from 21% in 1996 to 40% in 2004, according to exit polls. Then came 2006 and the Republican Party embrace of get-tough legislation on illegal immigration, followed by Republican efforts to kill bipartisan bills to stiffen border enforcement and provide illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship.
Using an election when a conservative independent garnered nearly 10% of the vote as a base year is sneaky. But this talking point comes up frequently, and it's crucial to be able to respond to what Weisman fails to mention: The GOP's share of the white vote grew from 46% in '96 to 58% in '04. The Hispanic increase (granting 40%, although 38% is likely a more accurate figure) translates into 1.3 million votes gained for the Republican party. The white increase dwarfs that at over 11 million votes.

Weisman continues:
In 2006, Republican support among Hispanics fell to 30%. Even Sen. McCain, who co-authored the bipartisan immigration legislation, does not appear able to reverse the trend.
The GOP dropped about 8 points among Hispanics, costing it 400,000 votes. The party also dropped 7 points among whites, from 58% to 51%, costing it 4,500,000. Ouch. This is another example of how, rather than being a swing vote, the Hispanic vote tends to mirror the white vote, skewed 15-20 points to the left.

And among those who said the Iraq war was an important factor in how they voted, Democrats enjoyed a 53.3%-46.7% advantage. Among those who thought immigration was important, Republicans won 53.4%-46.6%. The losing issue was the one the neoconservative WSJ has supported unfailingly from its beginning.

* Humorously, the article's theme is on creating a "Big Tent" GOP that excludes immigration restrictionists (74% of Republicans) and 'hardline' traditional marriage supporters (55% of Republicans). So, expand the tent by cutting out majorities of it! No concessions are to be made by unreciprocated free traders, open borders supporters, or neoconservative interventionists, however.

That sounds like exactly what the Republican party's national leadership has been trying to do for the last six-plus years. The result is a inority in both Houses of Congress and a leftist Republican Senator who looks to lose multiple states Bush won in '04 without picking up anything new. The definition of insanity...


JBS said...

"California, which voted Republican in all three Presidential elections in the eighties, became forever blue in '92. As whites--the racial group that always votes Republican in Presidential elections (as opposed to blacks and Hispanics, neither of which ever have as long as national exit polling has been conducted)--became a minority in California, so did Republicans. As Cali goes, so goes the country."

I think you are a bit off track on this one point AE.

CA is minority white, but so are New Mexico and Texas.

Yet, New Mexico is still a swing state despite Hispanics being such an established population group compared to other states where Hispanics are much more recent and less likely to vote than NM, and Texas is solidly Republican despite being minority white.

The reason California is so much more Democrat is not because it is minority white but because, unlike NM and TX, white suburban Californians moved way, way, left - compared to where they were during the Nixon and Reagan years -during the prosperity of the Clinton years.

If whites in California voted more Republican, that would more than offset any loses among Latinos and Asians (Didn't Brimelow and Rubenstein some years back write the GOP would be the majority party at the national level until 2080 if they won 66% of the white vote, regardless of immigration?).

PS: On a side note, I hope Obama cripples the US economy and the "Investor Class" with tax hikes in order to punish the Wall Street GOPers for kicking social conservatives to the curb, as Strassel suggests the GOP should continue to do.

SFG said...

Honestly, I think senior Republicans are too buddy-buddy with business, which likes the cheap labor.

You can't win. You've got the left-wing lobby and the right-wing business lobby against you.

Audacious Epigone said...


Whites comprise just under half of the Lone Star's population, but the voting electorate in Texas is 75% white (as of '06--it'll be a little less than that this time since we're in a Presidential election cycle).

I think I recall reading somewhere that on average New Mexico's Hispanics have been in the US longer (generations) than Hispanics in any other state with a significant Hispanic population, but I can't find it and I might be off on that.

Anyway, California's electorate is whiter than NM's, and yet NM is still competitive at the Presidential level (with Domenici's retirement, both Senators will be Democratic into the foreseeable future).

You're right--for Feinstein to have lost in '06, the GOP needed 60% of the white vote given how it fared among non-whites. It only garnered 41%. In the '96 Presidential election, Clinton and Dole split evenly among white voters (disregarding Perot votes, accounting for 8% of the white total--without him, Dole would've won the white vote in the state). So even in the last decade it looks like whites in California have moved leftward (and right-leaning whites have been moving out of the state altogether). This is in addition to growing Hispanic population that votes heavily Democratic at all levels of Californian politics. California looks to be 'permanently' blue, for more reasons than just racial changes in the population.


It feels that way. There are 'pro-business' publications that are relatively restrictionist (like IBD), but they're in the minority, and Chambers of commerce are almost invariably open borders.

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

What happened in CA is the "peace dividend." Good paying defense and aerospace jobs vamished, and the mostly white males who held those jobs ended up leaving CA with their families.

Stopped Clock said...

Well, Spanish-speaking people have been living in the American Southwest for a long time, since the early 1500s in fact. Although Wikipedia claims Santa Fe was the capital of the empire, I imagine that for climatological reasons Texas was more important than New Mexico. So the reason why Texas isn't the winner of the award might have to do with the fact that Texas has had a whole lot of recent immigrants and New Mexico hasnt, thus making the "average Hispanic" population more established in NM than in TX.

Anonymous said...

David Brooks, another NYTer, was already doing this a few weeks ago. Having saved the Republican Party from certain doom with their brilliant amnesty/invade Iraq/ownership society policy prescriptions, the Neocons and Econofascists are now trying to push the evangelicals out of the trunk and onto the road. That'll help the GOP clown car get to the top of the hill that much faster, where it can go off the cliff in style.

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