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Once Again, Center for Immigration Studies Plays Fast and Loose with the Facts
The Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigration “think tank” founded by FAIR, just published a new post titled “The Hispanic Vote in 2010: No Discernible Trend.” Yes, that’s right, the same group that used its vast expertise on issues like climate change and public health to conclude that immigrants cause global warming and teenage obesity is now remaking itself into an “expert” on the Latino vote.
Clearly, CIS’ goal is to lull the Republican Party into complacency over the immigration issue. They and their allies in Congress, led by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), have been desperately trying to rewrite the results of the 2010 elections after Latino voters—galvanized by anti-immigrant politicking from Republicans like Sharron Angle and Meg Whitman—saved the Senate for the Democrats.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “The Center for Immigration Studies and Rep. Smith are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. And Republican politicians are entitled to ignore demographic realities and follow CIS and Smith’s advice on immigration, but I hope they’re ready to become a regional party.”
Here are the unimpeachable facts about Latino voters and the 2010 elections—drawn from actual polls and real scientific analysis, not conjecture from the Latino voter “experts” over at CIS.
· FACT ONE: The national exit polls are seriously flawed when it comes to capturing the voting behavior of Latino voters. The media organizations that paid big money to sponsor the national exit polls may not want to admit it, but those polls are notoriously flawed when it comes to reporting on the behavior of subgroups like Latino voters. Even the head of the 2004 national exit poll, Warren Mitofsky, has admitted as much. In a rigorous post-election analysis using precinct-by-precinct voting data, Dr. Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions proved that the Nevada and Arizona exit polls’ Latino results were “mathematically impossible,” and that the election eve polls from Latino Decisions were much more accurate in reporting actual voter behavior. According to the Latino Decisions election eve poll of 3,200 Latino voters, only 24% of Latinos supported Republicans in 2010—not the 38% from the exit polls touted by the Center for Immigration Studies.
· FACT TWO: Latino voters do care about immigration reform. They are motivated to turn out for candidates who embrace common sense reform, and against candidates who demonize them. Despite CIS’ claims to the contrary, polls show immigration to be one of the top issues for Latino voters—and the issue has steadily increased in importance over the years. In both the February 2011 and April 2011 Latino Decisions/impreMedia polls, immigration was the number one issue for Latino voters. In Latino Decisions’ 2010 election eve poll, immigration was second in importance after jobs and the economy, but 60% of voters said immigration was either “the most important issue” or “one of the most important issues” in determining their decision to vote and whom to vote for. Latino Decisions’ 2010 tracking poll, conducted on a weekly basis prior to the November elections, showed Latino support for the Democrats increased after the initial DREAM Act debate in September.
· FACT THREE: Latino voters do have a direct, personal connection to the immigration issue. CIS makes the outrageous claim that Latino voters lack “direct personal experience with immigration” and therefore don’t care much about the issue. Again, polls of actual voters show this to be blatantly false. In a December 2009 poll from Bendixen & Amandi, 62% of Latino voters said they have a family member, neighbor, coworker, or friend who is undocumented. To them, deportation is not just an abstract concept, but a real threat to someone they know and love. In 2010, 53% of Latino voters said that anti-immigrant or anti-Latino sentiment was one of the most important factors in their voting decisions, according to the Latino Decisions election eve poll. Anti-immigrant laws like Arizona’s S.B. 1070 cast a wide net, turning anyone who “looks” like an immigrant into a suspect. Latino voters feel personally attacked and vilified by these proposals and the politicians behind them. The most strident anti-immigrant campaigner in 2010, Sharron Angle of Nevada, failed even to clear double digits with Latino voters. After a series of ugly, race-baiting ads and public statements, Angle won just 8% of the Latino vote while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won 90%, pushing him over the top.
· FACT FOUR: In 2010 Latino voters—and anti-immigrant campaigning from Republicans—kept the Senate in Democratic hands. Perhaps the most inconvenient truth for CIS is this: in 2010, anti-immigrant campaigning and the power of the Latino vote re-elected Senate Democrats in California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington, ending the Republican wave at the Rockies. This was the first “wave election” in 80 years where the ascendant party failed to capture both chambers of Congress.
Tramonte continued: “Politicians who want to understand Latino voters should look to the real experts, not anti-immigrant groups—and by real experts, I mean Latino voters themselves. Poll after poll shows that Latino voters care about immigration reform, support candidates who embrace common sense solutions, and reject candidates who demonize them and their loved ones. It’s time for Republicans in Congress to do the right thing on immigration—not only for the good of the country, but for their own political futures.”
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