Costs of the GOP immigration position

Richard Nadler wrote an important piece in the Journal a couple of days ago. First, Nadler’s conclusion is simple:

Immigration policies that induce mass fear among illegal residents will induce mass anger among the legal residents who share their heritage.

In other words, we are alienating Hispanics who are voters.  Why? Because they hear the restrictionist position as a veneer for racism and nativism:

The illegals themselves–the group most directly affected–understand "enforcement first" for what it really is: a step toward mass deportation. That is why thousands of undocumented Brazilians exited Riverside, N.J., when the town council sanctioned their landlords and employers.

To these two groups that reject "enforcement first" as a rhetorical euphemism, we may now add a third: Hispanic citizens who vote.

Nadler drills down on this point. His point is simple. "Enforcement first" alienates Hispanic voters. The legal ones who are here:

The congressional election of 2006 provided a unique opportunity to gauge Hispanic voter behavior. In three congressional districts of the Southwest, two of them on the border, Republican candidates ran on an "enforcement-only" platform. In each case, this constituted a departure from previous congressional representation. And in each case, Hispanic support for the Republican candidate collapsed from 2004 levels.

How much? 22%. Twice as much as the national average of loss of Hispanic support:

In these three races, Republicans’ vote share in heavily Latino precincts dropped 22 percentage points. …

That changed in 2006, when the GOP’s Hispanic vote share declined by 10%. And, as we have seen, the drop was twice as precipitous where Republicans disavowed comprehensive immigration reform. With the huge wedge in vote share that "enforcement-only" opened, the cost-effectiveness of voter-registration efforts improved dramatically–for Democrats.

So Nadler is making an argument that our (to my mind immoral) position on immigration is not working. Who is this guy though? Some liberal shill? Nope. A right-wing conservative. He is the President of America’s Majority Project, whose board contains conservative icons like Herman Cain:

Americas Majority was founded to increase the constituency for conservative causes:  free market economics, international anti-totalitarianism, and morals based on Jewish and Christian scriptures.

Let’s be clear. This policy doesn’t work morally. It doesn’t work politically. It is time to recognize that and move forward. According to Univision and NDN, 10% of Hispanics watched the Spanish-language debate. Only one Republican, John McCain, offered to participate.

Was the RGA what it was cracked up to be?

The Hill has an article about operatives being unhappy with the RGA, which Mitt Romney was chairman of this cycle. Apparently, some GOP operatives think that the RGA could have done more or differently:

“If there was a message sent to the national party, (it was that) for a few weeks on TV in those states, I’m not going to promise victory for the Republicans, but the outcomes would have been drastically different,” said one Kansas GOP operative who is “legitimately annoyed” with the national party.

“They seemed to be focused on states they maybe shouldn’t have been focused on,” the operative said, referring specifically to New Mexico and Michigan, where the governors association supported Dick DeVos, who lost to Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) by 14 points despite spending $18 million of his own money.

Now why would Romney spend money in the early state of Michigan? This whole narrative is reminiscent of earlier criticisms made of Romney that he misspent money to help his 2008 Presidential run. Even the GOP candidate for governor there said that the intervention hurt her.

But what about the ad that they ran against Richardson?

The Richardson ad was disclosed to the New Mexico Secretary of State, and it is available on the governors association website. It features a cartoon Richardson bouncing around a map of the United States and suggests he is running for president instead of governor.

It makes no mention of Republican challenger John Dendahl, who in June replaced primary winner J.R. Damron as the party’s candidate.

Mitt Romney, the Chairman of the RGA, is criticizing Bill Richardson, the Chairman of the DGA for flying around the country running for President rather than being governor? Either neither did it or both did it. You don’t get it both ways Mitt.

In short, Mitt set himself a test with the RGA. And he failed.

How does 2006 change the issues for 2008, Part 1: The people

Another question about the 2006 election results is: Who survived and lost and what effect does it have on 2008?

Note that The Fix is back up with Presidential rankings… We think that he is too high on Huckabee.

A big one that people have talked about a lot is Tim Pawlenty from Minnesota. There is public and, even stronger, private evidence that he is strongly in bed with McCain. RCP mentioned this. As one of our few remaining Midwestern governors (IN’s Mitch Daniels — also for McCain, SD’s Rounds, MO’s Blunt — note that there has been speculation about his links with Romney, and NE’s Heinneman — probably not for McCain, given his last minute endorsement of Osbourne in the primary…), in an important swing state, and soon-to-be President of the RGA, Pawlenty will have a national network and influence to wage battle for McCain. (other governors who are openly or probably for McCain: UT’s Huntsman, AL’s Riley, and SC’s Sanford)

McCain has also been everywhere and talked to everyone. A lot of people don’t like him, but he’s gathered chits. Will it matter? Some. Enough? To be determined.

Giuliani also did well. He followed the McCain strategy of fighting hard to keep people in office. I still believe that without more organizational support, though, he will struggle for a strong candidacy. Look for celebrity hires here.
Romney, as head of the RGA, had a bad night. He cannot be blamed for that in most cases. But evidence supports the theory that he was allied with Nussle in IA and a DeVos victory in MI would have given Saul Anuzi an important defense in the fight to overthrow him. Romney’s presence in IA is still very impressive (I was there for a week and all I can say is “wow”). However, I think that he was damaged in NH. The people in NH, especially more populous southern NH, are conscious of the thumping that Healey got. One pro-Romney activist in NH told me about Romney, “I don’t know whether Kerry Healey’s devastating loss is going to put a nail in his coffin”. Eyeopener makes a similar argument.

Another winner is, of course, Newt. Newt is a compelling speaker. Newt has high name ID. He does not do well in the polls right now, but do people think he is running? His book tours, touting by Human Events, podcasts, etc. all give him an unorthodox campaign that could get some real wheels. A lot of people are talking about this possibility. I admit, I like Newt the thinker, but Newt the President? Or, perhaps even worse, Newt the Candidate?

How does 2006 change the issues for 2008, Part 1: The issues

Now that I’ve spent a day recovering, I want to write a little bit about the 2008 consequences of the 2006 elections. I will cover issues, candidates, and other things. But, I’m starting with issues.

The Washington Times(!) clearly argues that the winner is McCain, and while I agree overall with the assessment, I think that it is more mixed.
Exit polls clearly indicate that the top issues in 2006 were corruption and terrorism:

Asked what issues were “extremely important” in casting their ballots, 42 percent of voters cited corruption while 40 percent said terrorism. The economy was cited by 39 percent, and 37 percent mentioned the war in Iraq, according to the CNN report.

The terrorism people were probably Republicans. The corruption people were independents and Democrats. The economy probably split and Iraq were probably mostly Dems. Who does this help?

If corruption continues to be an important issues, McCain is clearly the winner. To nearly everyone, McCain’s brand is a gold standard in ethics. In a general, he will have a strong message to voters that he will continue to bring ethical reforms to Washington. He also innoculates the party against the stain of this issue. Of course, many GOPers didn’t buy the importance of the corruption issue (I hope that they stand corrected) so this might not be a huge winner in a primary. But for those who did, this will be important. And those people will understand the power of McCain’s brand.
For the terrorism crowd, McCain and Giuliani are the clear winners. Both have strong national security credentials. And Romney has none. Note his statement on the election mentions GOPer’s number one issue last:

We must return to the common sense Reagan Republican ideals of fighting for hard working Americans, lowering taxes, shrinking government, curbing out-of-control spending, promoting the traditional values of faith, family and freedom, and providing a strong national security with all the necessary tools to protect the American people and win the War on Terror.

On the economy, none of the leading Presidential contenders have much of a record on the strength of the economy.  I am struck that in Romney’s statement the issue isn’t even mentioned.

Now there is already a fight about moving to the center or to the right. In general, moderates are pushing moving to the middle and conservatives are pushing moving to the right. It will be interesting to see where the candidates line up in these fights. It is still too early to tell.

Election Fraud Stories

I think that election fraud is a real serious issue. I’m going to be putting links to stories about election fraud up all day.

NJ via Hotline:

“It appears the Democrats have already resorted to Election Day dirty tricks. Late last night vandals struck the Kean for Senate Headquarters and an auxiliary office of the Star-Ledger by chaining closed the main entrance to the building as well as braking off keys in the side door entrances. Desperate ploys such as using Hudson County Correctional Inmates to disrupt press conferences or chaining closed the front door to our headquarters, will not prevent us from informing voter’s that Bob Menendez is under Federal Criminal Investigation and is unfit to serve in the United States Senate.”

Philly via Redstate:

In wards 7, 19, 51 in Philly, PA, the crowds are going wild. Inside several voting locations, individuals have poured white out onto the polling books and the poll workers are allowing voters to go into the polls and vote without first registering. Several individuals are on hand demanding that voters vote straight Democrat.

RNC lawyers have headed to the scene of the incidents, which are occurring in mostly hispanic precinct locations. The District Attorney has also been contacted.

More from the ground: Reports of voter intimidation by son-in-law of Philadelphia City Commissioner in 19th Ward. Carlos Mantos is not allowing Republican poll watchers with valid poll-watching certificates monitor polling places.

NM-1 election officials not offering provisional ballots and printing insufficient ballots in heavy GOP precincts:

Yes – that’s a strong claim – but it looks to be true. At Bernalillo County precinct 603 in Albququerque’s NE Heights – where there are over 2400 registered voters, Herrera (who is also running for Secretary of State) only sent over 150 ballots. They ran out. A long time ago.

Mary Herrera’s office has confirmed that they made a judgement call in sending over only 150 ballots to the Republcian heavy precinct 603. The Clerk’s office sent over another 250 to try and alleviate the problem – a number NOBODY thinks is adequate.

And apparently this R heavy precinct had no provisional ballots available for the voters to use…a violation of federal election law.

WSJ says: Romney hurts Healey. Healey agrees

This is quite amusing:

A recent television ad from Mr. Patrick’s campaign featured big pictures of Mr. Romney and Ms. Healey while an announcer reeled off complaints about their administration: increased property taxes; police layoffs; job losses and the tunnel collapse in the Big Dig, a massive highway project that has been under construction for years.

Ms. Healey, aiming to become the first female governor of Massachusetts, has shied from having Mr. Romney accompany her on the campaign trail, though Mr. Fehrnstrom said the governor is willing to do whatever is asked of him. “The extent of Gov. Romney’s involvement in Kerry Healey’s campaign will be determined by Kerry Healey,” he said. So far, he said, the extent of Mr. Romney’s participation has been “fund-raising behind the scenes.”

So why did Romney cut an ad praising himself? Romney has created a test with his chairmanship of the RGA. He is supposed to defend our governor’s seats. His investments in IA and MI are not going so well (early primary states).

He lost his state and his LG is running from him. There’s a record to run for President on. But he’ll be here in IA doing just that on Friday.

Putting 2006 before 2008

I haven’t posted much. I’m traveling the country, helping out various candidates.

Right now, it is fair to say that the Democrats are expanding the field almost everywhere, and resources — money, volunteers, etc — are getting scarce on the GOP. So I was not pleased to see this from The Fix:

The RGA — through its independent expenditure arm — is spending nearly $900,000 on ads touting Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R) — ads that indirectly seek to shore up Romney’s legacy in the state.

This race is lost. Use this stuff where it will matter, not to play CYA. Want more evidence? The Fix also tells us:

… the RGA recently registered a political action committee in the Granite State with the intent of backing candidates on the “state and local level,” according to the filing with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.

If the RGA spends money in New Hampshire it would be even more evidence of Romney looking out for his 2008 interests. The latest independent poll in the race showed Gov. John Lynch (D) with a 69 percent to 16 percent edge over Republican Jim Coburn.

As one of the leaders of our party, Mitt Romney has a job. Elect more governors. Not use the RGA’s money to elect state legislators in NH or waste it in lost races. How about helping Mark Green in WI or Topinka in IL? How about Pawlenty — a probable McCain supporter — in MN or Saxton in OR? Zillions for lost causes demonstrates that Romney is more interested in 2008 than being the leader of our party and fighting for it.

Do the Democrats think that they can start in September?

Sorry that I haven’t been posting so much, but I’ve been on the road.

Today’s NY Times reports on the “September Fund” will try to spend $25m in the last 6 or so weeks of the election on ads and voter mobilization. There have been a number of interesting things that have been said about this. I particularly like Hotline’s description as “shaming the donors”.

But I want to make a different point. They think that they can put together a national operation in 6 weeks? That is ridiculous. But that is what Democrats do. A friend of mine — who will go unnamed — will be traveling at the end of next week to a target state — which will go unnamed — on behalf of a 2008 Presidential hopeful — who will also go unamed — to run their field program.

His first task? Write a field plan. At the end of September. For an election in November. 2006. This is why the GOP’s technical advantages, mentioned in the NYT article, but also elaborated in, for example, Hotline’s excellent coverage of the Chafee win, is so powerful. Because the Democrats are so bad at this.

Immigration as an issue in 2006?

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.

Tough running on the right … when you haven’t been

Prior to yesterday’s Florida primary, Human Events touted the GOP gubernatorial primary as a “Moral Crossroads” and a “Test of the Religious Right”. The race is over. What have we learned?

First, the dynamics of the race. Both candidates had a relatively moderate record. Both tacked to the right in the primary, as GOP candidates are inclined to do. But Charlie Crist, the victor, had a great sin in the eyes of the Religious Right. As Attorney General, he opposed sending the police in to keep Terry Schaivo on life support.

Enter Tom Gallagher, stage left. From the Miami Herald:

Now, at age 62, Gallagher wants to be elected governor, and he wants to shatter one more thing: his moderate record.

What makes me different? I am the most conservative candidate in this race,” he explains when asked how voters can distinguish him from his Republican primary rival, Attorney General Charlie Crist.

Hmmm. Really?

When he ran for governor — three times before — he campaigned as a political moderate. But now, the primary is ”a race for the soul of the Republican Party,” Gallagher said recently, and that soul cares about conservative values.

In 1994, Gallagher told The Miami Herald he was ”pro-choice,” after previously proclaiming he was pro-life. Now Gallagher calls Crist ”pro-choice” and says he is the “only pro-life candidate in the race.”

That all sounds familiar. But then he went through a “transformation”:

The transformation has been steady and gradual, said Laura Gallagher. ”I can’t take credit for the change that came when a person attends church, reads the Bible daily and prays as a family,” she said. “If you do these things, and you’re sincere about it, they’re going to change you.”

The lesson? It is hard to run a Religious Right crusade with a record as a moderate. Even when you have an issue like Terry Schaivo. And a “transformation”. Voters aren’t dumb. They smell rats and political opportunism.

Let this be a lesson to GOP candidates everywhere. Got a record? Stick by it. Got an issue/opportunity to turn on a dime? Don’t bother they’ll figure you out.

Hear that Mitt?