The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
Sen. Bob Corker (L) (R-TN) and Sen. John Hoeven (R) (ND) discuss their immigration agreement outside the Senate chamber June 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) Sen. Bob Corker (L) (R-TN) and Sen. John Hoeven (R) (ND) discuss their immigration agreement outside the Senate chamber June 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)  

GOP senators haven’t gauged political impact of immigration

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Republican senators say they haven’t studied the electoral impact of passing the pending immigration bill, which would double immigration rates and ensure the arrival of 46 million Democratic-leaning immigrants during the next 20 years.

“I don’t think anyone really knows what the full ramifications of this are,” Republican Sen. John Thune told The Daily Caller.

It may help the GOP’s outreach to Hispanics, he said, but it may also alienate many Americans who oppose legalization for 11 million illegal immigrants and 35 million new immigrants.

“There’s always that possibility as well, and I don’t know that there has been any statistical analysis of how it all shakes out,” said Thune, who is the third-ranked leader in the Senate GOP.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso waived off the concern that American voters may walk away from the GOP if it endorses a huge immigration influx during a period when 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed.

“I haven’t heard any of that discussion,” said Barrasso, who runs the GOP’s Senate think-tank, the Republican Policy Committee.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander also downplayed the risks of an electoral rejection. “I don’t think this bill is about Republican turnout in the next election,” he told TheDC.

But leaders in the GOP’s conservative base — and numerous surveys and polls — say the bill is deeply opposed by GOP stalwarts whose support is needed in every election.

If the bill become law, “white turnout will be decreased, any [support from] black Republicans or conservatives or independents will be decreased … and any Latino conservative or independent vote that would think about voting for the Republican Party is not going to be vote for the Republican Party,” predicted Niger Innis, a spokesman for the TeaParty.net group.

The bill is opposed by most likely GOP voters, but the pandering is offensive to minorities who might wish join a mainstream GOP, he said.

Eighty-five percent of leaders in the Tea Party Patriots group oppose the bill, Jenny Beth Martin, the group’s cofounder, told TheDC.

“If Congress passes this bill, Democrats will get the credit [among Latino voters] and Republicans will get the blame” from the anti-amnesty majority of voters, said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

In 2014, “it makes a real possibility they will lose the House [of Representatives, because] … supporters just won’t show” up at the ballot box, he said.

In Europe, voters have already punished left-wing and right-wing political parties that favor high-levels of immigration, he said. Parties in France, the United Kingdom, Sweden and other countries have reformed their policies to reduce inflow and to exclude low-skilled immigrants.

The threat of a reduced GOP turnout is being highlighted by postmortems of the 2012 election, in which roughly 6 million GOP-leaning, working-class and middle-class white voters failed to appear.

“The next Republican would win narrowly if he or she can motivate these ‘missing whites,’ even without moving the Hispanic (or Asian) vote,” concluded a new analysis of county voting data by Sean Trende, at RealClearPolitics.com.