The Labor Day message to American workers from top GOP leaders ignored the most important issue for GOP voters — Democrats’ support for greater use of foreign workers in the U.S. economy.
“The establishment’s [election] playbook has failed many times, and they’re running it all over again,” complained one Hill aide. “Basically, we are not going to use the [amnesty] silver-bullet against the red-state Democrats.”
Instead, GOP leaders touted smaller-scale issues, such as worker training and the coal industry.
“Three things – getting people back to work, lowering costs at home, and restoring opportunity – will continue to be our focus in the weeks ahead,” claimed Illinois Rep. Larry Bucshon, who delivered the House GOP’s Labor Day message on behalf of House Speaker John Boehner.
“Today is about honoring all who labor—on farms and in factories, offices, schools and stores,” said the Labor Day message from Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. “There are millions of Americans who desperately want to work but can’t find a job…. [and] it’s disappointing that Harry Reid and President Obama continue to reject bipartisan jobs bills passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives—including legislation to build the Keystone Pipeline,” he said.
The leadership’s silence contrasts with the outspoken advocacy by several GOP Senators and candidates, including Sen. Jeff Sessions and Senate candidate Tom Cotton. They have targeted Democrats for supporting President Barack Obama’s various decisions to increase the number of foreigners working in the United States.
“President Obama has made a decision to make this election in 2014 a national referendum on amnesty,” Sen. Ted Cruz told a Labor Day weekend of GOP activists. “If you support amnesty, vote Democrat. If you oppose amnesty, throw Harry Reid out,” he said. “Every Democrat in the Senate bears responsibility for [Obama’s 2012 unilateral] amnesty.”
The GOP Senate election campaign office, however, has quietly provided the GOP candidate with some data and advice encouraging the selective use of the issue.
But the GOP leadership’s silence is damaging the GOP’s fall campaign, said an aide.
“If we stay safe, the voters won’t coming running to us,” he said. Negative attacks aren’t enough because “if we don’t give the [voters] an affirmative reason to [vote GOP] they’ll stay with their incumbents.”
So far, he said, the GOP candidate’s are doing poorly.
“The breaks this year—strong candidates, avoidance of damaging gaffes, issues such as Obamacare and immigration that stir the party base—have mainly gone the GOP’s way,” said a late August analysis by Larry Sabato, at the University of Virginia. But, he warned, “in every single one of the Crystal Ball’s toss-up states, (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina), the Republican Senate candidate has not yet opened up a real polling lead in any of them,” he wrote.
The GOP’s leadership is ignoring numerous polls and surveys that show swing-voters will respond to a pro-worker, pro-American message, complained the Capital Hill staffers.
Senate Democrats are vulnerable to GOP pressure because they all voted for the June 2013 immigration bill that — if made law — would have amnestied at least 12 million illegals, and effectively doubled the inflow of foreign workers and immigrants to almost 4 million per year, he said. Roughly 4 million Americans turn 18 each year and enter the labor market, where wages have remained flat for more than a decade.
The bill was blocked by the House GOP, but it would have increased unemployment, reduced wages and shifted more of the nation’s annual income from workers to wealthy investors, according to a June 2013 report by the Congressional Budget Office.
The Senate passed the amnesty bill, despite mounting evidence that high levels of immigration make Americans poorer. For example, from 2000 to early 2014, the number of working-age Americans with jobs actually declined, despite a population increase of roughly 17 million, according to a June 2014 report by the Center for Immigration Studies. During the same period, the number of employed immigrants and guest-workers rose by 5.7 million.
All Democratic Senators, and 14 GOP Senator voted for the Senate’s amnesty bill.
Democrats are already running from their votes on the immigration issue.
Late last week, President Barack Obama backtracked from his June promise to ethnic advocates that he would provide work-permits to several million illegals prior to the November election. He backtracked, in part, because endangered Democrats have tepidly criticized his plans to award work-permits to the illegals.
Many polls shows that the Democrats’ support for foreign workers is electoral poison — and jet fuel for pro-GOP turnout.
A July poll by Gallup showed that immigration became the top issue for Americans while administration officials welcomed asylum claims from 120,000 Central Americans border-crossers.
“The percentage of Americans citing immigration as the top problem has surged to 17% this month, up from 5% in June, and the highest seen since 2006,” said Gallup. “Immigration now virtually ties ‘dissatisfaction with government,’ at 16%, as the primary issue Americans think of when asked to name the country’s top problem.”
A mid-August survey by Gallup showed that “Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are significantly more likely than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to say that immigration and moral decline are top problems in the U.S.” Twenty-two percent of GOP supporters and GOP leaders, said Gallup, see immigration as the most important issue, edging out dysfunctional government at 20 percent and the economy at 17 percent.
Many polls show that swing voters want fewer foreign workers.
GOP candidates should grab the issue and run with it, says GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway.
“Immigration is an issue unto itself AND as part of an overall economic message,” she wrote in in a campaign memo for GOP politicians seeking tactical guidance during the 2014 election.
“Rule of Law, National Security and Economic Consequences are Compelling, but JOBS is the Primary Motivator for an Awakening (and Action) on Immigration,” she said. “Five and a half weeks of children at the border, and five and a half years of the Obama economy has crystallized public sentiment.”
“Leverage that. … Take your case directly to the [voters]. They are listening,” she wrote in her campaign memo. “There is a new open-mindedness to populist approaches, regardless of partisan or ideological preferences.” (RELATED: Pollster Makes The Case For A Populist GOP Immigration Message)
Several GOP Senate candidates are using the issue to hammer their Democratic opponents.
Terry Lynn Land in Michigan, and Cotton in Arkansas are using the issue. In New Hampshire, Scott Brown’s outspoken criticism of the Democrats’ border policies has helped him level the race with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Other GOP senatorial candidates, however, are avoiding the issue. They include Ed Gillespie in Virginia, who is trailing incumbent Sen. Mark Warner, who voted for the Senate’s amnesty bill. Gillespie is behind by more than 20 points.