Saturday, November 11, 2006

Exit polls say voters think immigrant residents should get legal status

Many GOP strategists hoped the 2006 elections would become a referendum on immigration, instead of, for example, the war in Iraq. As far as I'm concerned they were successful: It WAS a referendum. And voters opposed their anti-immigrant agenda.

What message did voters send on immigration? According to this analysis by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the attempt to make this a "wedge" issue largely did not work because the majority disagreed with the right's hardline stance:
Immigration Not A Wedge Issue : Republican leadership tried, but failed, to make immigration the wedge issue that would ensure their continued control of Congress after aggressively promoting an enforcement-only measure (H.R.4437) as their solution to reforming our broken immigration system. In fact, exit polling as reported by the Washington Post found that fewer than one in three cited immigration “as extremely important in influencing their decision, and they only narrowly favored Republican candidates. About six in 10 voters said that they believe illegal immigrants working in the United States should be offered a chance to apply for legal status….. Democratic candidates won support from 61 percent of those who backed a path to citizenship, according to the poll.”
So on election day, the issue actually cut AGAINST the GOP, probably costing them votes instead of gaining them extra ones. Earlier polling indicated that the public favored tough nativist stances more strongly, but apparently long months of public debate on the subject educated many voters, plus perhaps it was never really as important an issue to average people as anti-immigrant zealots thought.

Either way this result should put the brakes on overtly anti-immigrant legislation nationally. I also hope it causes Texas legislators who might have considered filing such bills to think twice about the wisdom of pursuing legislation penalizing or ostracizing immigrants.

Via Benders.

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