Perhaps. I have argued that the best issue for the GOP — as a party — is the War on Terror. But individual candidates can — and often must — distinguish themselves from the party Carl Hulse at the NYT has a story about CO-7, one of the swing seats that the GOP will probably lose this cycle. Republican Rick O’Donnell is trying to use immigration to scrape up some more votes. Hulse quotes a GOP strategist:

“Immigration is an issue that is really popping, “ said Dan Allen, a Republican strategist. “It is an issue that independents are paying attention to as well. It gets us talking about security and law and order.”

He is right. Democratic Strategist reports that this is a fine issue for Dems though. He cites polls that indicate that voters slightly prefer Dems on the issue. That’s nice. But isn’t it beside the point? After all, we are dealing with mid-term elections that are low turnout and rely on voter mobilization, not large scale persuasion. Let’s look at a poll that actually breaks down the numbers a little. We can learn something: Which Issue Should Be Top Priority For Your Member Of Congress?

  LVs All Dem GOP Ind
Immigration 17% 13% 4% 25% 11%
War in Iraq 15 17 15 17 18

Which Issues Should Be Top Priority For Congress?

  LVs All Dem GOP Ind
War in Iraq 23% 21% 23 14% 11%
Immigration 13 11 5 19 12

So… This is, potentially, a great issue for motivating GOP voters and — possibly — independents. If you get the details right. National polls — or quoting the top line — don’t tell us much if they don’t look break out Independents and Republicans. Furthermore in states and races with the resources to do significant microtargeting, the issue could be very good for reaching out to independents and getting them to vote without having to use this as a big issue in TV.

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