When it comes to immigration reform, everyone seems to agree on one one thing: The GOP establishment wants it, and the grassroots doesn’t. This, of course, is simplistic, but nevertheless, the notion that supporting comprehensive immigration reform is bad primary politics seems to have become a corollary to this conventional wisdom.
There are plenty of high-profile examples to undermine this theory. Perhaps the only candidate whose loss in a GOP intra-party fight can really be attributed to being too immigration-friendly was Chris Cannon in Utah.
Clearly, the fear of losing a primary over backing immigration reform is overwrought. There are plenty of reasons for this, but here’s just one: In order to win elections (including primaries), candidates need money. And while a very robust small donor campaign can sometimes suffice, most successful candidates require the backing of some big money players.
Hence the relevance of these two stories:
From the San Francisco Chronicle: “Big CA GOP donors ramp up pressure: we want immigration reform, ‘good politics and good policy'”
From the Houston Chronicle: “Top Texas GOP donors urge congressional leaders to pass immigration reform this year”
Anyone who knows anything about the Republican Party financing knows that California is effectively the party’s ATM (and little more) — and that Texas is similarly full of rich political donors. Go through an FEC report of national conservative donors and you’ll see how many hail from these two states.
This, of course, is not to say that Republicans should support immigration reform because that’s where the money’s at. But the notion that supporting immigration reform is a political death wish for Republicans seems to be more a folk myth than anything else.