I wanted to back up some of the claims I made in my Quartz article yesterday (“Second Act: Obama Could Really Help the US Economy by Pushing for More Legal Immigration”) about the political feasibility for Barack to dramatically change America’s approach to immigration.
In Wednesday morning’s Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib had an interesting analysis of the situation now for the Republicans: “Tough Loss Leaves GOP at a Crossroads.” Gerald poses the question from the Republican points of view “What went wrong?” Here is his answer:
But the most significant critique will be the one that says the party simply failed to catch up with the changing face of America. Exit polls showed that Mr. Romney won handily among white Americans—almost six in 10 of them—but lost by breathtaking margins among the nation’s increasingly important ethnic groups: By almost 40 percentage points among Hispanics, by almost 50 points among Asians, and by more than 80 points among African-Americans.
The groups Barack did well among are groups that are becoming a bigger and bigger fraction of voters.
Neil Irwin’s note “Republicans’ immigration problem in two numbers” on Wonkblog, ties the big margin for Barack among Hispanic voters to Barack’s advantage on immigration policy:
Asked how U.S. immigration policy should deal with illegal immigrants, 74 percent of Republican voters said that they should be deported to the country from which they came. But only 29 percent of voters overall shared that view. (Some 64 percent of all voters favored giving illegal immigrants a chance to apply for legal status).
My argument is that by focusing first on reform of legal immigration, Barack can get support for that from a bigger fraction of the Republican coalition than the 26% or so who are somewhat tolerant of illegal immigration. What I don’t know is how support for an expansion of legal immigration shifts as the size of the expansion increases.