Large-scale immigration is coloring the United States of American a deep shape of Democratic blue, according to a new report about the impact of immigration on elections.
“Each one percentage-point increase in the immigrant share of a large county’s population reduces the Republican share of the two-party vote by nearly 0.6 percentage points on average,” according to James Gimpel, a professor of government at the University of Maryland, College Park.
“The conclusion is inescapable. … An urban county that cast 49 percent of its vote for the Republican candidate in 1980 could be expected to drop to 43 percent by 2012, just as a consequence of a rising immigrant population,” says the report, which was released Tuesday by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors low levels of immigration.
That slow-motion process is also splitting GOP’s business wing from its political wing, which includes the party’s voters, leading advocates and legislators.
The business wing profits greatly from the inflow of immigrant consumers and workers, most spectacularly, from 2003 to 2008, when the real estate and banking sectors expanded with the wave of new Hispanic workers and homebuyers.
The business wing is now working with the Democratic Party to pass the Senate’s immigration rewrite, which would triple the inflow of legal immigrants and temporary guest workers over the next 10 years, up to 40 million.
Currently, the country welcomes one million immigrants per year, who compete for the jobs that are sought by the four million Americans who graduate and join the workforce each year.
But the GOP’s political wing loses when its activists and legislators are rejected by voters, become a minority in federal and state legislatures, and are shut out of the White House, according to the report.
Even when GOP legislators keep their seats, their status is minimized and their ambitions for higher office are blocked. In California, for example, where Democrats control the state House and Senate, plus all the state-wide offices, the GOP is largely defunct and it has difficulty finding good candidates.
Numerous surveys show that most immigrants vote Democratic once they become naturalized, the report says. “Hispanic policy views line up so congruently behind the Democrats that prominent Latino scholars say that it is mistaken to consider them swing voters — in fact their Democratic loyalty has been long-standing,” said Gimpel.
Also, immigrants tend to nudge native-born Americans into the Democratic Party. The immigrants tend be low-skilled and so they widen wealth and wage gaps in the counties and cities where they live, causing greater American support for government intervention, the report says.
“A 10-point jump in the degree of income inequality in a county generates a 4.6 percentage-point increase in a resident’s favorability toward greater redistribution and regulation,” the report concludes.
By pooling data from various sources, the report shows that the GOP’s share of the vote in the nation’s 100 largest counties drops by 0.6 percent for every one percent increase in immigrant population.
Once a region skews Democratic, it becomes difficult for the GOP to recover because swing voters and political activists will choose to fight for their causes in Democratic primaries, rather than in general elections, the report says. The process accelerates “the extinction of urban and increasingly suburban Republicans as the immigrant population expands its presence outward from its original central-city destinations,” the report says.
A previous report by the CIS showed that immigration is also transferring more legislators’ seats from states populated by native-born Americans, towards states with a large immigrant population. This process is giving Democrats a handful of extra House seats after every redistricting process, which occurs once every 10 years.
The report also concluded that there’s little evidence that immigrants’ underlying political preferences can be significantly swung towards the GOP’s small-government base by TV ads and other political tools, the report says.
“Latinos in California appear to vote overwhelming Democratic even when Republican Latino candidates are on the ballot opposing Anglo Democrats … [and] the propensity for immigrants, and especially Latinos, to be swing voters has been greatly exaggerated by wishful-thinking Republican politicians and business-seeking pollsters,” said Gimpel.
“Entrenched patterns of party loyalty change very slowly, over decades, and are not ordinarily subject to wild swings in response to campaign stimuli,” it said.