As the 2008 election nears, immigration will no doubt play a major role in deciding the winners and losers. America’s Voice is leading the charge by sponsoring a project that will track the impact of immigration as an issue in these elections. We want comprehensive immigration reform to be a top priority for the elected officials who prevail in November. In fact, it is our view that road to common sense reform cuts right through the November election.
Immigration, although not on a par with the economy as a top tier concern of voters, has now risen to an established second tier issue. And it is our prediction that the issue will be used in elections at all levels like never before, especially by Republicans who believe the issue is an effective wedge that will make them look tough and Democrats look soft. In 2005, 2006, and 2007 some Republicans tried it out, hoping that illegal immigration would turn out base voters angry about illegal immigration and win over culturally conservative swing voters in much the same way that crime, welfare, affirmative action, and gay marriage have in the past. Despite the fact that the issue just didn’t seem to work in these three election cycles, many operatives and candidates believe that the storm of opposition to last year’s comprehensive immigration bill presages a bigger reaction from voters this cycle.
Meanwhile, Democrats are beginning to understand that if you are for a common sense solution, and you lean into the issue, you can appeal both to swing voters and the growing Latino population, the largest immigrant voting population. Still, some Democrats are spooked by the issue and still not convinced.
Hence this project. Immigration08.com will track key races in which immigration may prove to be a critical, even decisive issue. We will evaluate quantitatively how this issue plays out in the Presidential, key Congressional, and close gubernatorial campaigns and on Election Day. We will track the ads being broadcast, the press coverage of immigration issues, and commentary on the elections. Key constituencies and voter blocs will be targeted with pre- and post-November 4th polling to get underneath what is happening and how immigration impacted close elections.
Our prediction? We believe we will learn, as we did in the last three cycles, that illegal immigration works well for Democrats who lean into it, rather than for Republicans who demagogue it. But the facts will be the facts, and the chips will fall where they fall.
And who are we? America’s Voice is part of our reinvigorated effort to pass comprehensive Immigration Reform. We ourselves are a new organization that is focusing primarily on communications, but we are working very closely with other components of our campaign, in particular the We are America Alliance, which is gearing up to mobilize a million new voters in 13 states running in the lead up to November 4th. We believe that the combination of an historic turnout of immigrant voters for whom immigration reform is a defining issue and the failure of illegal immigration as a wedge issue will help create more political space for reform. In addition, we are going to be working towards a revamped policy effort and a more effective grass roots effort so that in the first term of the next President we are able to actually enact common sense reform that works. Stay tuned.