Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Immigration and the Midterms

Some thoughts on the midterm elections, where Democrats took the House while Republicans strengthened their Senate majority by a bit.

In our book Irresistible Forces, which came out 8 years ago, my dad and I discussed public opinion, which is hard to pin down on on immigration because there are so many different angles. The snapshot we gave was basically 2006-2010, and one point was that despite all the rhetoric, voters deemed undocumented immigration be to be the 4th or 5th most pressing problem. We added:

As the demographic fit concludes over the next several years, however, these numbers may well become more negative (p. 106).
That seems to have played out. Xenophobia was definitely a problem back then, but not on the scale that we see now, so the negativity has not just grown, it has become more virulent and openly racist.

Preliminary exit polls suggested that health care was by far the most pressing issue, while immigration was pretty close to tied with the economy. What has changed most noticeably is the partisan divide. Immigration is big (negatively, of course) with Republicans but not for Democrats, who are focused much more on health care. How much those issues affected any specific race is up for debate and likely will never be known for sure.

And the Latino vote? I have not seen any numbers yet. Instead, we have the same message we've heard for at least a decade, with lots of talk of promise and expectations. Empirically, this has usually translated into incremental increases in vote totals that have yet to become a decisive factor in many races. But let's wait and see once we get some more concrete numbers.


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