Monday, December 12, 2011

It's a typical report in these typical times

Typical NPR reporter and pundit Mara Liasson filed a typical NPR story on the role of immigration in the GOP's presidential nomination process. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are said to differ starkly in their positions on immigration. To Liasson's (and Romney's!) credit, this is fairly accurate and goes largely unreported most of the time:
As for Gingrich, the predictions that his remarks on immigration would prove toxic to Republican voters haven't come true.
Rick Perry's don't-have-a-heart comment was "toxic" because it lacked any tact and was intentionally insulting towards restrictionists. Gingrich, in contrast, sold his similar Establishment stance as the necessary one on immigration to be integrated seamlessly into the Republican party's broader family values platform. While I think that's BS, it comes across as a difference of opinion delivered relatively respectfully (for an open borders proponent, anyway) in a debate setting among candidates vying for the nomination. At the risk of sounding obnoxiously partisan, maybe it's an illustration that the mainstream right is more tolerant of diversity of opinion than media outlets like NPR give it credit for! Heck, driving home from work the other day I heard Sean Hannity interviewing Rand Paul, something that, to my pleasure, I've come across on multiple times before. The occasion this time? For Rand to push his dad's presidential campaign.

Liasson also informs us that Republicans need at least 40% of the Hispanic vote to win in the general election. Bush won with 39% of it in 2004. It's not so much that the assertion is incorrect as it is almost irrelevant. In 2008, when the non-white turnout was high, Hispanics constituted 8% of the electorate. Whites made up 75% of it. Thus, increasing it's share of the white vote by 1% does as much for the GOP as increasing its share of the Hispanic vote by 10%. In a story about immigration and the presidential election, then, one might naively expect to hear about how candidates' positions on immigration influence white voters. But, alas.

In the last three elections, the GOP has received 54%, 58%, and 55% of the white vote, respectively. In 2004, with 58%, Bush won the popular vote. In 2000 and 2008, at 54% and 55%, the Republicans lost it. If the GOP manages to get 60% of the white vote, it'll win the next three presidential elections with relative ease. After that, the white percentage required will tick upwards as the percentage of voters who are white continues to decline.

That said, I'd love to hear someone like Liasson run through the logic of how it can be so confidently asserted that taking an open borders position will significantly help an aspiring Republican nominee with Hispanic voters. If that's the case, John McCain did as well any GOP contender can ever hope to do. The GOP had the highest-profile open borders member of the party's national leadership, who teamed up with Ted Kennedy in an amnesty attempt that united the public in opposition and who virtually barred restrictionists from the Republican National Convention on the ticket, running against Obama, who lost the Hispanic vote 64%-36% during the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton, a margin less favorable than Bush enjoyed among Hispanics in '04. What better way for "naturally conservative" Hispanics to show the Republican party they're on board with it if only it loses its restrictionism than to have backed McCain in 2008? Why, if immigration is Hispanics big hangup with the Republican party, would they not jump at the opportunity to back an open borders Republican? Yet McCain didn't even manage to garner one-third of Hispanic support.

Steve Sailer has noted that despite the fact that the politics of immigration doesn't seem to influence the Hispanic public in the US much, media outlets reliably tap self-appointed Latino activists for quotes saying that if so-and-so doesn't drop all his restrictionist rhetoric immediately, the Hispanic tidal wave that is forming really soon now will wash him out to sea:
The conventional wisdom is largely driven by New York Times and Washington Post reporters calling up self-appointed Hispanic spokesmen who get right back to them with quotes saying, yes, indeed, the coming Hispanic Electorate Tidal Wave wants nothing more than more immigration.
NPR does not disappoint:
"If you think about the so-called negative narrative on immigration ... it basically comes from Gov. Romney," says Alfonso Aguilar [who?], who runs the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. "In the last debate, it sounded like he was closing the door to any type of legalization. It does hurt him. ... And he does risk not being able to get enough Latino voters, if he's the nominee, to win back the White House."


"I think [Romney] has been ill advised, because he hears the traditional strategy from political pundits that say, you know, 'Forget about the Latino community during the primary."
Indeed, the strategy overwhelmingly pushed by pundits like David Brooks is for the GOP to forget about Hispanics and adopt the Sailer Strategy instead! That, of course, is the conventional wisdom that the GOP has been incorrigibly tied to since before the first Bush administration! If only they'd stop listening to the NYT and NPR and start paying attention Hispanics instead, they'd have both chambers of Congress and the White House in a landslide!

Finally, it's encouraging to look at the comment threads on stories like these. NPR's SWPL listenership clearly sympathizes with Romney's position, not Gingrich's. The American public just won't go along with Establishment opinion that it should replace itself as soon as possible.


Noah172 said...

Stories like this show what went wrong when journalism morphed from a trade into a profession. Reporters, much like academics, are insulated from the lives of the ordinary people and trends about which they write and opine. Few have even a rudimentary grasp of statistics -- does Liasson know, even a ballpark guess, the mestizo percentage of the electorate?

Journalism was much better when reporters were people who had worked other trades, had other experiences in their lives, than just going to an elite J-school and drinking up leftist claptrap.

Jack said...

SWPL's are a group that Romney will be able to cut into if he's the nominee. While Gingrich may get slightly more Latinos, Romney will be able to win over some upper middle class white professionals that voted for Obama. Trust me, I know some.