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Republicans Think Immigration is More Important than Democrats

A plurality of Republicans think immigration is the biggest problem facing the country right now but it ranks only fourth with Democrats. From Gallup:

Most Important Problem Facing the U.S.

This intensity gap goes a long way to explaining why comprehensive immigration reform failed this year and will likely fail next year, especially when combined with the basic political dynamic facing House Republicans. What much of the Republican base thinks is the solution is primarily just tougher enforcement.

Collectively it would be to the party’s long term advantage to pass comprehensive immigration reform to try to win back support from Hispanics since this would help them in the Presidential election and a few select Senate races, but on an individual level there is little direct incentive for House Republicans to advance reform.

Thanks to gerrymandering most House Republicans represent very white districts and won’t ever face a tough general election. For many their only real worry is a primary from the right and this poll shows immigration can strike a cord with conservative voters.

Theoretically, the looming Presidential election could make individual House Republicans willing to make a sacrifice for the good of the party in 2015/2016, but the contested Presidential primary will likely push the candidates to the right on immigration killing any hope of reform. Already it seems to have moved Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to the right on the issue.

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Republicans Think Immigration is More Important than Democrats

A plurality of Republicans think immigration is the biggest problem facing the country right now but it ranks only fourth with Democrats. From Gallup:

Most Important Problem Facing the U.S.

This intensity gap goes a long way to explaining why comprehensive immigration reform failed this year and will likely fail next year, especially when combined with the basic political dynamic facing House Republicans. What much of the Republican base thinks is the solution is primarily just tougher enforcement.

Collectively it would be to the party’s long term advantage to pass comprehensive immigration reform to try to win back support from Hispanics since this would help them in the Presidential election and a few select Senate races, but on an individual level there is little direct incentive for House Republicans to advance reform.

Thanks to gerrymandering most House Republicans represent very white districts and won’t ever face a tough general election. For many their only real worry is a primary from the right and this poll shows immigration can strike a cord with conservative voters.

Theoretically, the looming Presidential election could make individual House Republicans willing to make a sacrifice for the good of the party in 2015/2016, but the contested Presidential primary will likely push the candidates to the right on immigration killing any hope of reform. Already it seems to have moved Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to the right on the issue.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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