Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Immigration = GOP Election Desperation

Immigration is going to be a swing and a miss for the GOP in Wisconsin this election year.

Paul Bucher tried to make waves with the issue in the Republican AG primary this year (see here, here, and here), but, in the end, he could barley even muster 40 percent of the GOP vote in September.

For some reason, the Journal Sentinel only used a poll by the Republican outfit Strategic Vision in its story on the topic this morning. That poll found that 55 percent of Wisconsinites “oppose granting amnesty to illegal immigrants currently living in the United States.”

As it happens, though, that’s not the only Wisconsin poll on the topic.

The independent Badger Poll found much different results in its July survey, back when immigration was at its peak coverage in the media.

According to that Badger Poll, 66 percent of Wisconsinites said they favor the following type of program: “The Senate is currently considering a bill that would create a temporary worker program for immigrants. Those participating in the program would eventually be able to attain citizenship by meeting a number of requirements, including paying fines, learning English, and proving their work history. Do you favor or oppose such a program?”

Even two-thirds of Republican respondents said they favor such a program.

So who’s right -- Strategic Vision or the Badger Poll?

Certainly the Badger Poll question was more complete. And the use of the word “amnesty” without providing any context or definition for the term undoubtedly had an effect on the Strategic Vision poll results.

The Badger Poll also showed that 67 percent of respondents (60 percent for Republican respondents) think undocumented immigrants take the jobs that people don’t want, anyway. And it found that nearly 69 percent of respondents (67 percent for Republican respondents) think that immigrants contribute positively to the economy in Wisconsin (although the poll didn’t specify between documented and undocumented immigrants on this question).

In the end, it’s pretty clear Wisconsin doesn’t have a public that wants to give undocumented immigrants a free pass (and neither of the major parties are advocating that), but it also doesn’t have a public that’s looking to be “hard” on undocumented immigrants.

The attempt by Congressman Mark Green to rile up excitement on the immigration issue will almost certainly fail. It’s just not an issue statewide, and, more importantly, it’s pretty clear most of the state disagrees with Green – who opposes a temporary worker program with a path to citizenship – on the topic.

John Gard may have a better time with it in the 8th CD, but it still doesn’t seem likely to have a major impact on that race.

All in all, the GOP focus on immigration appears to be little more than a sign of election desperation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Amnesty" definitely confuses voters, and unfairly so. I recently was at a forum where a questioner railed against amnesty because she thought it meant that immigrants could just walk in and become citizens without learning any American history, laws, or "how to sing the national anthem in English."

When she was told that amnesty simply meant that immigrants who want to become citizens just wouldn't be charged as felons for coming in without the usual permissions, because a felony prevents them from ever becoming citizens -- but that they then still would have to go through the usual classes and waiting period as other immigrants . . . the questioner said, well, she was just fine with that.

And that's "amnesty" -- it just means not being a felon for wanting to be an American. (Or, actually, citizens of our country -- as many of them are Americans from a different part of our continent, although part of our country was part of their country until we took it . . . what a mess it is, and what a simple solution "amnesty" is, if it's explained to the voters.)

October 18, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Good point -- the term "amnesty" certainly does cause confusion. It's concerning that the JS didn't point that out when quoting the Strategic Vision poll, or at the very least try to access other poll results on the issue.

October 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Desparation? You have a candidate in Doyle who can't move past 45%, but has stayed steady at that number. Green is climbing slowly, but there are still 10 to 13% undecided.

That group is the Ed Thompson group. Pointing out that Doyle was in favor of the Wheda program, following Falk's "don't ask don't tell" policy and providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants is a smart move.

Now Doyle comes out with a spanish-language ad. Could he be pandering? Might not be the smartest move.

Then again, he obviously feels that he needs the immigrant vote, legal or illegal (no photo-ID), to win. And as we know, Doyle will do or say anything to win.

October 18, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

If Green had developed a campaign around the issues over the past year rather than focusing almost exclusively on attacking Doyle, he wouldn't need to turn to immigration this late in the race. It didn't play for Bucher, and it won't play for Green. There just isn't enough hostility toward undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin to make that happen.

Green's signature issue was supposed to be the budget, but he screwed that up early on and has never got back on track with any sort of unifying message for his campaign. He won't touch TABOR, concealed carry, or same-sex marriage because they're too risky in the purple state of Wisconsin, so that leaves him with immigration, which is a proven non-starter in this state.

It can't be ignored in all this that the GOP is facing low voter enthusiasm nationwide, and there has been no evidence to show that Wisconsin is going against the grain in that respect. Sure, the die hard GOPers in the state can't stand Doyle and want to get rid of him more than anything, but those are the people who would've come out on November 7 to vote against him, anyway.

It's those who see themselves as conservative though not necessarily Republican that Green needed to reach on the issues, and so far he just hasn't done that.

It will be a close race, but if (or, in my mind, when) Green loses, it will be because he couldn't give people a good enough reason to vote for him rather than just against the incumbent.

October 18, 2006  

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