What Mike Murphy Should Have Said

 

My reaction to Mike Murphy’s recent appearance on the Ricochet Podcast can be summarized with one word: frustration. I think it safe to say that my reaction is one shared by many – probably most – members. That said, the cause of my frustration puts me in a minority on Ricochet. Though I do not support comprehensive immigration reform at the present moment, I think it will be necessary at some point and I was deeply disappointed at how poor a case Murphy made for immigration reform as a political necessity. There are few things I find more frustrating than listening to an argument to which I am sympathetic put poorly. Now I don’t expect everyone to be persuaded by this, but here’s what I think Murphy should have said:*

First, we need to recognize that the GOP’s problem with the Hispanic vote is a serious one. Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States and are the fastest-growing segment of the American population. There are currently around 25 million Hispanics eligible to vote in the United States, a number set to rise to 40 million by 2030. Even if Hispanic immigration (both legal and illegal) were stopped entirely today, if the Republican Party cannot get a significantly higher percent of the Hispanic vote than it has in recent elections it is headed for long-term minority party status. This is particularly true in the case of presidential politics. The GOP cannot achieve an Electoral College majority without Texas and Hispanics are on track to become the largest ethnic group in Texas in about a decade. A Republican Party that receives less than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote is in trouble. Since 1980 (the first election for which such data is available and reliable), no one has won a presidential election with less than 30% of the Hispanic vote. In 2012, Romney received only 27%.

Fortunately, Hispanic voting patterns are not set in stone. While it is unlikely that the GOP is going to win a majority of Hispanic votes anytime soon, it should be recognized that the Republican Party’s standing among Hispanic voters is currently at a twenty year low and that it was much higher fairly recently. George W. Bush did quite well among Hispanics. In 2000, he received 35% of the Hispanic vote and in 2004 he won between 41 and 44% (depending on the source).

This brings us to the question of why the GOP currently does so poorly among Hispanics. Between 2004 and the midterm elections of 2006, the Republican Party saw its share of the Hispanic vote fall by between one quarter and one third. While the GOP lost ground among pretty much every demographic group, the drop in support among Hispanics was substantially greater than among other groups. One thing that likely contributed to this collapse in support is that W’s attempt to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA) was thwarted by a GOP-controlled Congress.

Perhaps more at fault than the actual failure of the CIRA was the nature of much of the right’s opposition to it. Groups such as the Minutemen received prominent news coverage and, while their motives may have been benign, they were portrayed as anti-Hispanic vigilantes and bigots. Such coverage may have been unfair, but it was not without a factual basis. In 2008, Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist expressed dismay at the number of organizations with “sinister intentions” that grew out of the Minuteman Project saying, “I very well may have been fighting for people with less character and less integrity than the ‘open border fanatics’ I have been fighting against.” On a less extreme level, it’s hard to argue that conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh help the perception of the GOP among Hispanics when they argue against immigration reform on the grounds that Hispanic immigrants are welfare-dependent, job-stealing, criminally-inclined drains on America’s public finances planning to reconquer the Southwest for La Raza (not that La Raza wouldn’t like a reconquista).

So why, you may ask, if the GOP is generally perceived to be unwelcoming to Hispanics, is immigration reform necessary to improve the GOP’s standing among Hispanics?

Well, immigration is more of a threshold question than a magic bullet. Passing immigration reform would demonstrate to Hispanic voters that the GOP is not hostile to them. There are currently large numbers of Hispanics who might be receptive to the conservative message on the value of hard work, traditional morality, and opportunity, but who reject it out of hand because they perceive the messengers to be hostile to them. We cannot persuade someone of the rightness of our position if they aren’t willing to give us a hearing in the first place.

But shouldn’t Hispanics already be receptive to our position? After all, polling tends to show that Hispanic voters care far more about the economy than they do about immigration.

It’s true that polling suggests that Hispanic voters care far more about the economy than they do about immigration reform, but that doesn’t really matter in this context. As Mickey Kaus astutely pointed out, the fact that voters in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District stated that the economy was a higher priority to them than immigration doesn’t mean that immigration doesn’t matter. Sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander, Hispanic voters may care more about the economy than they do about immigration, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about immigration.

What about the argument that amnesty would add millions of new Democratic voters to the electorate?

Opponents of the path to citizenship frequently make the claim that it will result in 11 million new Democratic voters, ushering in a permanent Democratic majority. While it’s true that providing a path to citizenship to those illegally in the country would lead to an increase in Democratic votes, the actual net effect is likely to be far less than the 11 million figure. First, it needs to be recognized that 11 million is the total number of illegal immigrants in the country and that not all of these are going to become citizens. I have a friend who is an immigration lawyer and staunch opponent of comprehensive immigration reform. His best estimate is that between 40 and 50 percent of current illegal immigrants will not end up becoming citizens — some because of ineligibility or return to their home country, most because they don’t really care about citizenship and would be content with legal status as permanent residents. Let’s assume the high end of his range opts for citizenship. 60% of 11 million is 6.6 million. That’s not the end of the analysis. Hispanics have a voter turnout of 48%, so of the 6.6 million eligible to vote only 3.17 million are likely to actually vote. Not all of these will vote Democrat. If we assume that the GOP is able to increase its share of the Hispanic vote from the currently abysmal 27% to a 2000 level 35% we end up with 2 million new Democratic votes and 1.1 million new Republicans for a net increase of only 900,000 Democratic votes. If the GOP can revive its share of the Hispanic votes to 2004 levels, the net increase in Democratic votes shrinks to 380,000.

And that doesn’t take into account the effect of comprehensive immigration reform on the larger established Hispanic vote. The first amnestied voters won’t go to the polls for a decade. By then, the established (non-amnestied) Hispanic electorate will be around 35 million, of which around half, or 17.5 million will actually vote. Under current voting patterns, the GOP will receive about 4.72 million of those votes. If the GOP share of the Hispanic votes rises to 2000 levels, it will receive 6.13 million votes and if it rises to 2004 levels it will receive 7.7 million votes for a net increase of between 1.41 million and 3.02 million votes. Thus a path to citizenship, taken on its own, will likely lead to a net increase of between 380,000 and 900,000 Democratic votes, but the overall effect of comprehensive immigration reform will likely be a net Republican gain of between 500,000 and 2.6 million votes.

What about the risk that amnesty will just induce another wave of illegal immigration?

I agree that’s a real problem. That’s why I oppose comprehensive immigration reform at the moment. At least until we control the Senate, preferably until we retake the White House in 2016.

* In fairness, Murphy did make some of these points, or points of a similar nature.

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  1. swatter Inactive
    swatter
    @swatter

    One sentence Salvatore: “Border security first”.

    Ryan and the Gang say border security somewhere down the line and leave the problem to the later Congress. Of course, tomorrow never comes.

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    My father taught me a simple lesson, “Obey the law.  If you don’t like a law, work to change it, but don’t break the law.”

    If you break the law, you deserve punishment, not rewards.  Amnesty of any kind will only incite worse behaviour.  There is no path to being a good citizen for those willing to commit felonies for that status.

    • #2
  3. user_1938 Inactive
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    It seems you would agree that Republicans main challenge in this regard is perception rather than policy. The purpose of these reforms would not be to stem illegal immigration or to address problems with the legal immigration process so much as to make hispanics like the GOP. Any reform policy would not be a good in itself, but rather a gesture of good will. Correct?

    If so, what good would any policy do while Republicans continue to stink at PR? In particular, Republicans have not demonstrated competence at combating Democrats’ misinformation and demonizations, which proceed regardless of changes to facts of policy or campaigns. Without dramatic improvement to Republican messaging, can the GOP win this issue?

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Well, that thread got promoted quickly.

    • #4
  5. wmartin Member
    wmartin
    @

    How many white votes will be lost if the GOP persists in seeking immigration reform?

    As for George W Bush, I don’t consider 35 to 41% “doing well” among Hispanics. That’s still losing by a landslide.

    • #5
  6. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    I agree with Arahant. Conservative opposition to comprehensive immigration reform has had far less to do with opposition to immigration but rather has had more to do with opposition to lawlessness. In the last couple of decades, the federal government has turned a blind eye to lawlessness at the border. Even worse, those American citizens who live and own property at the border can often feel as if at siege with no way out: Their government refuse to defend them, and they can’t escape easily.

    The problem with our leadership is not just that they are bad at PR, but they are bad at a way that undermines their constituents. Rather than take a stand against lawlessness, they appear apologetic to any claim of bigotry and race to get votes and hopeful good press by accepting Progressive premises.

    Honestly, there’s plenty of Americans who have no problem with people coming here to succeed. We just want them to come with respect to our laws. Our current situation does none of that.

    Moreover, Progressive comprehensive immigration reform tends to reward lawlessness and does nothing to foster lawfulness.

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Salvatore Padula: First, we need to recognize that the GOP’s problem with the Hispanic vote is a serious one

     The GOP doesn’t have a problem with the Hispanic vote – or the black vote – or the women’s vote – or the homosexual vote.  The GOP has a problem pandering to specific voters as if they are members of a voting block, monolithic in their beliefs.

    What the GOP should do is put forth a set of principles, why those principles should be embraced by everyone, and how they would put those principles into play in legislation, regulation, and running the government.

    • #7
  8. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    wmartin:

    As for George W Bush, I don’t consider 35 to 41% “doing well” among Hispanics. That’s still losing by a landslide.

     A GOP which gets 35+% of the Hispanic vote can win national elections. We don’t have to win the Hispanic vote (though I don’t think that’s impossible, given time); we just can’t lose it as badly as we have been.

    • #8
  9. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    swatter: One sentence Salvatore: “Border security first”.

    I agree that border security should come first. Though I think that as a matter of practical politics the legislation will have to be passed at the same time I think it entirely possible to have legalization contingent upon the completion of a border fence and the adoption of e-verify.

    • #9
  10. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Since 1980 (the first election for which such data is available and reliable), no one has won a presidential election with less than 35% of the Hispanic vote. In 2012, Romney received only 27%.

    This is not accurate and doesn’t paint the full picture. George HW Bush won election in 1988 with 30% of the Hispanic vote. This is important for more than nit picky reasons. Reagan got 37% in 1984. In 1986 he signed the Amnesty. In 1988 Bush got 30%, a big decline for the GOP 2 years after the amnesty. 

    John McCain is a Border State Senator who is as pro-immigration reform/Amnesty as anyone on the post 1980 list, he got 31% of the Hispanic vote.

    So no Republican has ever won with less than 30% of the Hispanic vote and no Republican has ever got more than 40% of the Hispanic vote. There is evidence that the best we can do is a 60-40 split, and evidence that Amnesty did not help the Republicans. What evidence is there that Amnesty will help now when it hasn’t before?

    • #10
  11. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Stad: The GOP doesn’t have a problem with the Hispanic vote – or the black vote – or the women’s vote – or the homosexual vote. The GOP has a problem pandering to specific voters as if they are members of a voting block, monolithic in their beliefs.

    What the GOP should do is put forth a set of principles, why those principles should be embraced by everyone, and how they would put those principles into play in legislation, regulation, and running the government.

     The GOP has a problem with the Hispanic vote in the sense that large numbers of Hispanics never consider our actual arguments because they think we don’t like Hispanics. You can argue that we shouldn’t have a problem with the Hispanic vote, but when we only receive a little over a quarter of it we do most certainly have a problem.

    • #11
  12. Little Ricky Cobden Inactive
    Little Ricky Cobden
    @LittleRickyCobden

    I wish Murphy had pointed out that we spend more on CBP, ICE and US-Visit (~$18 Billion FY12) than we spend on FBI, DEA, BATF, Secret Service and US Marshals service combined ($14.4 Billion FY12).

    • #12
  13. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Aaron Miller: It seems you would agree that Republicans main challenge in this regard is perception rather than policy. The purpose of these reforms would not be to stem illegal immigration or to address problems with the legal immigration process so much as to make hispanics like the GOP. Any reform policy would not be a good in itself, but rather a gesture of good will. Correct?

     Not quite. Republicans have a problem of being perceived as generally unwelcoming to Hispanics. That perception is substantially a result of the debate over a specific policy: immigration.

    I’m happy to make policy arguments about immigration, but that really is the subject for another thread. My point here was not to so much to debate immigration policy generally as to lay out what Murphy’s political argument could have been were he less arrogant and condescending.

    • #13
  14. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Our immigration laws and bureaucracy are bloated and inefficient. Anyone coming here through legal channels has to practically be treated as a felon on parole (only with less leeway). Conversely, Americans perceive those arriving through illegal methods as getting away with anything. Again, it’s not that we don’t want people to come here (in most cases) it’s just that we see it as fundamentally unfair that people going about things properly are treated worse than those who knowingly or otherwise appear to be cheating.

    But again, for many of us conservatives, all we see is our leaders rushing for votes and pats on the back. There is little argument that defends lawfulness or fairness.

    • #14
  15. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    People that come here illegally should be treated no differently than the nation from whence they came would treat someone that went there illegally.

    • #15
  16. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    I think we should focus first on an expanded work visa program that would allow people who already have a job lined up to enter the country legally, work for a while, and then return home — which is all many of them want in the first place.  This would be especially valuable for seasonal farmworkers who cross the border to work during harvest season and would then just as soon return home for the winter, if they stay here it’s only because they don’t want to have to sneak across the border again next spring.

    We will probably also need a way for people already here to apply for such a visa (call it an “amnesty” if you like) but it should not be a path to citizenship.  We already have one of those: now that you have your work visa and can stay in the country w/o fear of deportation, you are free to apply for a green card on exactly the same terms as anyone else anywhere in the world.  You shouldn’t get to cut to the front of the line because you entered the country illegally.

    • #16
  17. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Evidence suggests that the biggest single factor in a hispanic voting patterns is wealth.  Poor hispanics vote overwhelmingly for democrats.   The  well off Hispanic vote is almost indistinguishable from the white vote.  (my google fu is failing me today, I’ll grab the numbers later)

    The talk of “showing hispanics we aren’t hostile to them” seems intuitively like it would help, but I suspect a booming economy would be an order of magnitude more effective for creating GOP voters.

    Since we probably agree that the democrats will allow no real enforcement on the border, do you agree it’s probably best to drop reform until we retake the presidency, or until we have enough of a strangle hold on both house of congress that we can really set the terms of the deal?

    • #17
  18. user_1255 Member
    user_1255
    @WillCollier

    I can boil down Murphy’s “message” into two sentences:

    “Please keep nominating these sure losers like McCain and Romney who appeal only to the big Manhattan donors. Otherwise I might have to get a real job.”

    • #18
  19. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Frank Soto: Evidence suggests that the biggest single factor in a hispanic voting patterns is wealth. Poor hispanics vote overwhelmingly for democrats.

     But at the same time, poor Hispanics are also dramatically less likely to vote.

    Changes in wealth do not explain the dramatic fall in the GOP proportion of the Hispanic vote between 2004 and 2006.

    • #19
  20. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Salvatore Padula: The GOP has a problem with the Hispanic vote in the sense that large numbers of Hispanics never consider our actual arguments because they think we don’t like Hispanics. You can argue that we shouldn’t have a problem with the Hispanic vote, but when we only receive a little over a quarter of it we do most certainly have a problem.

     When the GOP gets 30% of the Hispanic vote 2 years after Amnesty, the highest we can get with pro-reform George Bush is 40%, and very pro-reform John McCain gets 31%, I still don’t see the evidence that Comprehensive Immigration Reform moves Hispanic voters to the GOP.

    • #20
  21. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Frank Soto

    Since we probably agree that the democrats will allow no real enforcement on the border, do you agree it’s probably best to drop reform until we retake the presidency, or until we have enough of a strangle hold on both house of congress that we can really set the terms of the deal?

     I agree with this.

    • #21
  22. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Salvatore Padula:

    Frank Soto: Evidence suggests that the biggest single factor in a hispanic voting patterns is wealth. Poor hispanics vote overwhelmingly for democrats.

    But at the same time, poor Hispanics are also dramatically less likely to vote.

     Yeah, there’s just a lot of them.  Reducing poverty among hispanics would do wonders.  As I said, booming economy.

    • #22
  23. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    But shouldn’t Hispanics already be receptive to our position? After all, polling tends to show that Hispanic voters care far more about the economy than they do about immigration.

    But here’s the thing; they don’t and this frustrates me as well. I have had numerous conversations with successful Cuban business owners here in SW Florida and they are convinced that the Democratic stance on illegal immigration is morally superior. I can’t begin to explain this but Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and Marco Rubio are obviously aware of this dynamic.

    I’d love to hear a podcast featuring any of these congressmen speaking specifically on this topic. Yeti, I dare you!

    • #23
  24. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Salvatore Padula: Though I think that as a matter of practical politics the legislation will have to be passed at the same time

    Precisely, the whole politics of “comprehensive immigration reform” is that it’s a compromise where the GOP gets something they want (border security) in exchange for something the Dems want (amnesty).

    “Border security first” is only viable politically if the GOP can pass legislation w/o any Democrat votes, i.e. we control the House, Senate, and White House.  And then it becomes a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, i.e. can we win that much power w/o winning more Hispanic votes?

    • #24
  25. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Jager: When the GOP gets 30% of the Hispanic vote 2 years after Amnesty, the highest we can get with pro-reform George Bush is 40%, and very pro-reform John McCain gets 31%, I still don’t see the evidence that Comprehensive Immigration Reform moves Hispanic voters to the GOP.

     Bush received more than 40%. McCain had moved away from his previous pro-reform position in order to win the primary. Beyond that after the failure of CIRA in 2006, the whole GOP brand had an anti-reform image.

    • #25
  26. Fredösphere Inactive
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    Frank Soto:

    Evidence suggests that the biggest single factor in a hispanic voting patterns is wealth. Poor hispanics vote overwhelmingly for democrats. The well off Hispanic vote is almost indistinguishable from the white vote. (my google fu is failing me today, I’ll grab the numbers later)

     Thank you, Frank, for bringing this up. A related factor is that a certain percentage of a Hispanic immigrant’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren will vote Republican but also stop self-identifying as Hispanic. So, the conversion to the GOP occurs but the party doesn’t get “credit” for it. (That might happen due to intermarriage diluting the Hispanic identity, or even without it.)

    I’d love to see someone look carefully at this process and try to measure it carefully. Is the GOP the party of whites? Or the party of whites and ex-ethnics?

    • #26
  27. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Fredösphere: I’d love to see someone look carefully at this process and try to measure it carefully. Is the GOP the party of whites? Or the party of whites and ex-ethnics?

    Well, Italians didn’t used to be considered Whites, and Sal is with us.  I wonder what that means.

    • #27
  28. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Arahant:

    Fredösphere: I’d love to see someone look carefully at this process and try to measure it carefully. Is the GOP the party of whites? Or the party of whites and ex-ethnics?

    Well, Italians didn’t used to be considered Whites, and Sal is with us. I wonder what that means.

     Ah, but I identify as Italian-American.

    • #28
  29. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Arahant:

    Fredösphere: I’d love to see someone look carefully at this process and try to measure it carefully. Is the GOP the party of whites? Or the party of whites and ex-ethnics?

    Well, Italians didn’t used to be considered Whites, and Sal is with us. I wonder what that means.

     Neither were the Irish or the Germans. Can we move on now?

    • #29
  30. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    I also wish more conservatives would acknowledge the powerful economic incentives driving illegal immigration.  Restricting immigration to the extent we have creates a black market in labor, and history shows that no matter how much money we throw at suppressing a black market (i.e. Prohibition, the War on Drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc.) it never goes away entirely, and overzealous enforcement has unintended consequences and encroaches on our civil liberties.

    Yes, we can point out that illegal immigrants are criminals, just as anyone who has ever tried pot is a criminal.  Yes, we need border security.  But let’s at least be realistic and acknowledge that no matter how “serious” we get about border enforcement, some people are always going to find ways to sneak into the country (e.g. by overstaying a travel visa) just as someone is always going to find a clever new way to smuggle in cocaine.  If the economic incentives are there, and people are desperate enough, they will always find a way.

    • #30
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