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Tilting at Windmills

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April 13, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

IMMIGRATION POLL....Today's LA Times poll shows why I don't really trust polls on immigration. Here are the results:

Basically, sizable majorities seem to be in favor of practically everything, and the numbers are fantastically sensitive to question wording. People are in favor of a wall, in favor of a guest worker program, in favor of a path to citizenship, in favor of greater enforcement, in favor of whatever you ask them about. Or maybe not depending on how you phrase the question.

So take it for what it's worth. In any case, the poll is also full of good cheer for us liberal types: Democrats are way ahead in the generic congressional ballot; George Bush's credibility has taken a big hit due to leakgate; Republican congressional unfavorables are high; and Democrats are more trusted on every issue except for national security.

So guess what? Expect a midterm campaign heavily based on national security issues. I hope we're ready.

Kevin Drum 1:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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Comments

It makes sense. I'm in favor of practically everything.

Posted by: craigie on April 13, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

When the bombs start dropping on Tehran, that moment will decide whether or not you guys do any damage in 2006.

Posted by: JFD on April 13, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

The best poll is the Rasmussen poll which shows the American people are rejecting the extremist positions of the liberal Democrats and the illegal alien lobby.

Link

"The latest Rasmussen Reports national opinion survey found that 37% of Americans now trust Republicans more than Democrats on the issue of immigration. Just 31% trust the Democrats more."

Either liberals move to the center and adopt the positions of Representative Tom Tancredo on fighting and destroying the illegal aliens or the American people will punish them in the 2006 elections by kicking them out of office.

Posted by: Al on April 13, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

None of the questions seem mutually exclusive.

Basically, sizable majorities seem to be in favor of practically everything, and the numbers are fantastically sensitive to question wording. People are in favor of a wall, in favor of a guest worker program, in favor of a path to citizenship, in favor of greater enforcement, in favor of whatever you ask them about. Or maybe not depending on how you phrase the question.

Before I begin, I'll add that a sizable majority is not in favor of a wall, and making illegal immigration a felony (which is surprising), at least from your own excerpt.

To the mutual exclusivity, or lack of it, one can easily be in favor of erecting a wall, making it a felony to enter the country illegally, creating a guest worker program for the labor we do need, and allowing those who are already in the United States to be allowed to work for citizenship.

Aside from building a wall and making it a felony to cross over it illegall, I'm in favor of both the guest worker program and amnesty for those already here, so consider me in tune with the actual majorities in the excerpt.

Posted by: Jimm on April 13, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

Al, people who are overly concerned with immigration would seem to obviously lean Republican. If those who care to say they prefer a party in terms of immigration are only 6% more in the Republican camp, that does not bode well for Republicans. Most Americans really aren't that worried about it, at least to the point of having it really determine which way they'll vote.

Posted by: Jimm on April 13, 2006 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

I believe in MultiPositivism too.

Posted by: lorenz on April 13, 2006 at 2:10 AM | PERMALINK

The real news isn't that polls are everywhere, but that this isn't becoming a wedge issue for the Republicans like you would expect if they had asked you two or three months ago.

On the one hand, it's doesn't seem to get any real salience, because it's isn't that much of an issue for a large segment of the electorate. Most people don't have too strong opinions on it and a compromise based on legalization and tougher border controls seems politically attenable.Again, I wouldn't expect that a couple of months ago.

On the other hand, the issue seems to have galvanized the latino community. Which in turn has cautioned both parties to one of the fastest growing and probably pivotal constituencies of the future...

I certainly hope it stays that way...

Posted by: Nick Kaufman on April 13, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

Either liberals move to the center and adopt the positions of Representative Tom Tancredo on fighting and destroying the illegal aliens or the American people will punish them in the 2006 elections by kicking them out of office.

Very good fake Al. Satire or how I learned to love Savage?

Posted by: patrick on April 13, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

The poll should explain to even the most clueless why this is a perfect wedge issue...thanks for playing...sucker.

Posted by: S Brennan on April 13, 2006 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

Polls like this would seem to indicate that the public just wants Congress to do something... anything...

And I'm getting the feeling that Congress just wants to put their heads in the sand and hope that the whole thing just goes away.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on April 13, 2006 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

As one might expect considering the source, the poll isn't telling those who took it or those who read it the whole truth.

It refers to a "guest" worker program, but any program called that would result in our "guests" staying after they had U.S. citizen children, were given home loans, etc. etc.

If those taking the poll were told that our "guests" would become permanent residents, the results would probably have been far different.

And, if they were told that, for instance, the Bracero program increased illegal immigration during and after (by creating networks and other means), the results would probably be strongly against "guest" worker schemes.

And, if they were told that Bush's original "guest" worker scheme was to include *any* type of employee (specifically mentioned: nurses and teachers), the support would keep going down, even for someone else's amnesty scheme.

And, regarding the poll question about making it a felony: Sensenbrenner tried to remove that from the bill but the Democrats voted to keep it in.

There's yet more questions about the poll: why use the PC euphemism "undocumented" instead of the legally-correct "illegal alien"?

And, what about the use of "noncitizen"? Was that an attempt to deceive vis-a-vis the eligibility of current illegal aliens to join that program vs. those currently outside the U.S. joining?

--
Illegal immigration news
Immigration reform

Posted by: TLB on April 13, 2006 at 3:31 AM | PERMALINK

The issue is all over the lot because the American people are more sophisticated than the sound bites put out by Senesbrenner, Tancredo, Lou Dobbs and others in both camps.

If you watch American politics you will notice that the typical Republican "wedge" issue involves a "fear" that is relatively distant and abstract for the average Republican. Pro-gun Republicans are located in suburbs and rural areas where gun violence is nearly non-existence. For them the 2nd Amendment is an issue of empowering themselves to deal with a remote potential. They realize that it is very unlikely they will ever actually shoot anybody. They don't have any fear that anybody will ever actually shoot at them. People in favor of gun control tend to be people who are urban. They are people who have a better chance of encountering a gun pointed at them. They know that the guy who mugs them may have a gun.

Republican wedge issues often involve activities that some people consider a personal failing. Gay bashing is big for fundamentalist Christians because they don't want to acknowledge that they know any actual gay people. Gay people are an icky abstract. People who do have significant personal contact with gay people (family members, close work associates and friends) are much more inclined to support gay marriage.

The same for abortion. Most people have never had personal experience with the issue, or if they have they don't want to talk about it. For men in particular abortion is an abstract moral issue on the highest possible plain. That is why it seems the majority of rabid anti-abortion supporters are men. Every woman at least thinks about the subject on a personal level. Most women want the right to choose for themselves.

Look at the Terry Schaivo case. The Republicans failed to recognize that the decision to pull the plug on a beloved family member is not an ickey abstract. After decades of ever improving life prolonging procedures many Americans have had to fact the decision of how long to keep a brain dead loved one alive. Most adult Americans have had to think about their own mortality. For most Americans Terry Schaivo was not an ickey abstract. She was a painful reminder.

The point of all of this is that the Republicans have miscalculated. Undocumented aliens are 12 million strong. They are not a hidden minority. They are well connected to America's very large hispanic minority. Most Americans, of any stripe, know and like hispanics they encounter in church, or at work or across the breakfast table. Many middle class and upper middle class white Americans encounter people they suspect are undocumented on a daily basis. They clean their houses, take care of their children or mow their lawns. As a result undocumented aliens are not abstract, and cannot be made abstract. It is just hard to tell your daughter that the little girl in her school has to go back to Mexico because her parents are undocumented.

Perhaps if undocumented aliens lived in special camps and painted their faces green they could become a good wedge issue. It is always easier to demonize the guy you don't see who lives in a getto. As it is Sensenbrenner and Tancrato are on the wrong side of a very non-abstract issue.

Most Americans want secure borders, but most are simply unwilling to kick 12 million of their friends and co-workers out of the country. They recognize reality. We are not going to kick them out. Why demonize or criminalize them?

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 13, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone in this country who still trusts the GOP on issues relating to national security either hasn't been paying attention to current events, or is in dire need of a videotaped diagnosis by the good Dr. Frist.

Further, immigration is not going to be the political panacea that the Republicans are seeking -- in fact, just the opposite. GOP attempts to play the ethnic card in California's 1994 election provoked a fourfold increase in Hispanic voter registration in that state over the next ten years, which resulted in a California that is today solidly Democratic.

So go ahead, GOP -- make my day.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 13, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

There is one other thing. Most working Americans recognize that if you bring undocumented aliens out of the gray economy and require their employers to pay withholding taxes there will be more money to pay for all the social services the undocumented workers and their families use. The status quo simply enables exploitation of both the workers and the American taxpayer. That is what is wrong with the punative Republican approach. Most people recognize it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 13, 2006 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

you are still missing the truth behind and about this poll. what is not told to us in the poll is who was polled. if you where to take this poll in L.A. with people who have crossed the boarded you get the numbers you have. if you take this poll in the midwest, i feel you would get numbers that favor closing the boarder and having a fence. and you might want to get this right Bush is on your side he wants them here. the left can't even get that right. you should be call Bush a hero for his stand, but the left is calling him the enemy. damn they are dumm.

Posted by: scott on April 13, 2006 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK

Huummmm....I have to comment on the comment below..

"Al, people who are overly concerned with immigration would seem to obviously lean Republican. If those who care to say they prefer a party in terms of immigration are only 6% more in the Republican camp, that does not bode well for Republicans. Most Americans really aren't that worried about it, at least to the point of having it really determine which way they'll "

I think you might be surprised. I am a registered democrat and heretofor a democratic voter in every election. I also thought I was "progressive" until I started hanging out at some "progressive" sites and discovered they are just as wing nutty and knee jerk on their "issues" as the freepers. The Dems, the Repubs, the progressives...they are all crazy..none of them represent the vast moderate middle of America who just wants to see some reason and common sense brought to bear.

The immigration issue is one reason I won't be voting for dems in the next election, that along with their hot-cold war mongering and split personality and using the same fear and loathing war mongering and "pandering" to anything and anyone to get elected is the same thing to me as the repubs....just two sides to the same mirror.
And anyone who doesn't get how "special interest" of which this "immigration movement" is one, have managed to infiltrate both parties, who now just make policy that will get them niche voter blocks and corporate campaign donations instead of making policy for the whole good of the country....well you are just dumb.

I have sworn off voting for either of the two evils, tired of doing that...I will just write in names in '06 and '08...at least I will be able to say I wasn't riding the donkey or the elephant when they took the country over the cliff.

It's hysterically funny to me that not too long ago we lost a Supreme Court Judge nomination because she empoyed an "illegal' nanny and now no one in DC on either side can remember what "illegal" means. I suppose today the repubs would call her a "guest worker without benefits" and the dems would call her "entitled" to citizenship no mater how she got here.

A country that doesn't enforce it's own laws is shortly toast. Let's just not have borders or citizenship for that matter, let all the borderless new and old immigrants take their resident and citizenship and rights gripes to the UN and their wage and labor disputes to the WTO....woulnd't that be fun! And hang the ten commandments in every public building and use the constitution for toilet paper and shred our laws and legal statutes for confetti to celebrate our liberation from it all...that way we could satisfy every single desire and demand and personal whim and whine of every single little seperate self interested turd floating in this septic tank that use to be a melting pot of unified interest.

This dem has left the building...and I think I hear a stampede behind me...but of course the political junkie activist on neither side can hear it because they live in an echo chamber.

Posted by: Chanel No 5 on April 13, 2006 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

"And, regarding the poll question about making it a felony: Sensenbrenner tried to remove that from the bill but the Democrats voted to keep it in."

Posted by: TLB on April 13, 2006 at 3:31 AM

Sensenbrenner's committee produced a very extreme bill with a number of unpopular provisions, including that one. Once it came to the floor, he realized it was a potential deal-breaker, so he tried to introduce an ammendment changing it to a misdemeanor while leaving the rest of the bill alone. Democrats, who were blocked by the Republican House leadership from offering ammendments to other parts of the bill they objected to for a vote on the floor of the House, voted down Sensenbrenner's ammendment in a successful and appropriate effort to kill the whole bill.

Posted by: tanj on April 13, 2006 at 5:59 AM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter if immigration is *actually* a wedge issue or not. All that matters is making a big deal out of the issue and getting enough people to think of it as a hot button to justify a 10%-15% shift in votes in the eleventh hour on election day.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on April 13, 2006 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Just another demonstration of how to manipulate results by asking front-loaded questions.

Posted by: CFShep on April 13, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats are NOT ready for the mid-term elections.

Kevin, you know you and your party have lost your way. Consumed by Bush-hatred, Democrats don't know what they stand for, beyond hating Bush.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on April 13, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Illegal immigrants have a lobby? Jeez Al, get a grip.
What the hell is bush hatred anyway? You freaks on the right accused Clinton of murdering his childhood friend. That is hatred. Adults can disagree with a liar without hating him.

Posted by: gus on April 13, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Since Bush's "War Presidency" is his magic cloak for virtually every illegal act, maybe it is time for peace oriented candidates.

The whole war approach hasn't accomplished much if any good and sure as hell is running up lots of deficts (financial, prestige, credibility,etc).

Draw the lines on national security through peaceful and diplomatic means versus the one trick pony "War President". Democrats can't out "War" the republicans. Dems need to step up to national security through peaceful means. While they are at it, please restore our civil liberties to at least pre-Patriot Act levels.

Posted by: RickG on April 13, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Either liberals move to the center and adopt the positions of Representative Tom Tancredo on fighting and destroying the illegal aliens or the American people will punish them in the 2006 elections by kicking them out of office."
--Al

Good God, what planet are you living on, man? If Tancredo is in the "center", I am Mother Teresa. He is so far right, he makes Mussolini look moderate. Tommy Boy needs to crack his Bible a little further and read what Jesus says about "welcoming the strangers among you". Democrats would do well to do the same. These friggin' hypocritical fascists make me want to vomit...

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 13, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

I bet you could put a dent in the putative advantage republicans have on national security with some simple factual ads.

Mention port security for example. No need to bring up the whole Dubai thing - just the extensive lack of effort by republicans to provide funding or plans for securing the single best vector for bringing WMD into the US.

Posted by: phleabo on April 13, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Paddy Whack said: Kevin, you know you and your party have lost your way. Consumed by Bush-hatred, Democrats don't know what they stand for, beyond hating Bush.

Well, the first step toward recovery must be to get rid of the incompetent bunch that got us into all these messes. It is becoming clear to all that Bush can get us into situations like Iraq but he can't get us out.

Posted by: tim on April 13, 2006 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Jimm-

Do African-Americans tend Republican? You might want to read a Chicago Defender article which makes it plain that African-Americans are not so keen on immigration. (African-American leadership is, but that's one of many signs of a disconnect between the leadership and the rest of the group-a similar one is occuring in the Republican party, as I'll talk about later.)

Kevin shows a pie-chart which shows 93% of those polled want tougher enforcement of immigration laws, but he doesn't like that idea, so he wants to hand-wave and get past it.

It is not contradictory to be in favor of a wall, some kind of legalization for those here (which can take the form of waving a hand and pronouncing them guest workers) and in favor of greater enforcment.

The Republicans could campaign on this issue and national security, but that would mean abandoning the dreams of having an Hispanic vote which votes Republican in a block. (Karl Rove fantasizes about Hispanics being to Republicans what African-Americans are to Democrats: a group that overwhelmingly votes for one party. And since there are more Hispanics than African-Americans, that means Republicans will always win elections, without having to do pesky things like governing worth a darn. The tiny problem with this brilliant scheme is that Hispanics don't overwhelmingly vote one way. The Republican party leadership is severely at odds with its base here, but they're hoping that they won't have to worry about the base in the future.)

I think this whole immigration debate has become beyond ridiculous. There is clearly a lot of support for tougher enforcement of immigration law, but politicians in both parties are thinking in terms of a) this will make Hispanics always vote for my party! or b) hey, having cheap labor makes my life easier-cf. Michael Bloomberg's comments about how illegal immigrants are beneficial to golfers.

The only people willing to appeal to popular resentment over this issue are the racists (who object to illegal immigrationg because most of the illegal migrants aren't white). I'm afraid we're going to see developments like in Europe, where thinly disguised Neo-Nazi parties have gained way too much support due to the fact that other parties won't move on this issue.

I think the nadir of this debate, so far, was Daniel Schorr's breathless declaration yesterday that Hastert and Frist were disavowing any plans to criminalize illegal immigration. The sheer stupidity of that sentence flabbergasted me. (What Frist and Hastert have disavowed is making illegal immigration a felony.) The rest of the report was equally incoherent.

Posted by: Nemo Ignotus on April 13, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Politicians can count votes. That is the one thing they can do well.

So, what if the Repubs realize, that under current conditions, they will lose both houses of Congress? Then it is time to find a "wedge" issue. Immigration is a sure way to mobilize the base. I have friends that are anti-Bush, but very pro on building a fence and criminalizing the illegal immigrants. I just can't reason with them.

So, I think that this is a way to counter act the immigrants/Latinos who will vote for Dem candidates.

Posted by: Chief on April 13, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

kevin:In any case, the poll is also full of good cheer for us liberal types

Who cares what Liberal types think, or what conservative types think. What is ultimately the best thing for our country, is the question, not which party wins this fall. If this blog deteriorates into the leftist version of Rush Limbaugh, you've lost the independents.
America needs a sane and reasonable policy, period. Right now, we're saying one thing with our laws, and doing another with our enforcement. This teaches kids and adults alike that nothing matters. well, things do matter. What is best for this country? Show me some data on that question, not on these stupid polls, which are worthless, as we all know (i was recently polled, and made quite certain that I gave totally opposite answers to what I believed in. It's no ones business until election day!)

Posted by: Chris on April 13, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Most Americans really aren't that worried about it
Yep, and Kerry is going to win in a landslide.

Democrats don't know what they stand for, beyond hating Bush.
Sure they do, it's right here.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 13, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

You are all stupid. Republicans are the best. I am the greatest because I am a Republican and not stupid.

Posted by: Al on April 13, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

To me the volatility on the issue suggests that, how shall I say, people's feelings on this issue don't run as deeply as you might think. That is to say, there's a lot of surface agitation, and people claim to be very honestly concerned about it, number-one issue. But if you scratch the surface and ask them how to solve it, they have no idea or, alternately, don't really care as long as their gripes are aired.

Sure: I know about the Minutemen. For a small percentage it really is their #1 issue, the same way for some people abortion is their #1 issue and they go out and do something about it too. People say they're super-worried about immigration but if you ask them what they mean by that, they end up saying things that are more consistent with education, health care, etc. are their actual #1 issues.

Posted by: Martin on April 13, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin - since when is 42% a majority, let alone a "sizeable" one?

Posted by: Steve Stein on April 13, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

This issue had gotten so complex and partisan that it's hard to know what's feasable or not. Interesting statistics on the news this morning; The unemployment rate in Mexico is 3.7% compared to 4.7% in the U.S., yet 40% of Mexicans live below the poverty level in contrast to 12% in the US. The numbers dont lie. 40%!!!! I repeat, 40% live below poverty levels.

Corporate America and the Mexican government are the main reason for our immigration problems. One of the main intentions of NAFTA was to improve the economy of Mexico and standard of living. It didnt happen because of the greed of American companies. They took our manufacturing jobs to Mexico, hurting our middle and lower class, and then just reaped the windfall profits without benefitting either society.

How many Americans living on the border states travel to Mexico each day to work? I would guess the number is probably pretty low because of the wage scales. The Mexican government failed its own people because it was more beholding to the corporations than the citizens who live there. Does Mexico have a minimum wage? I dont know, but if they dont, they should.

There are apparently enough jobs in Mexico to keep their people there, but until they are able to earn a living wage, they will continue to flow into this country to find a way to provide for families.

Posted by: Tim on April 13, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Well Tim, since you're clearly interested in paying more for your goods/services, why don't you just send the extra money you're willing to pay to some NGO that's helping out in Mexico?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 13, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

While history will record that Bill Clinton was a rapist, liar and criminal ( for letting Marc Rich loose to spill oil off Portugal and Spain )his great achievement in the NAFTA agreement will also have to be noted. Now with social capital free to slosh around as freely as cash capital we can see the fruits of this truly visionary leap of faith.

Thank you for small mercies you fascist ( Clipper chips anyone? ) pig Clinton.

And as for the present president?

" If you seek peace; if you seek prosperity for the United State's AND South America. If you seek liberalization... Senor Bush - TEAR DOWN THIS WALL! "

October?

Get ready for a SURPRISE!

You pathetic loser's amuse me.

Posted by: professor rat on April 13, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK
Basically, sizable majorities seem to be in favor of practically everything

Huh?

In your excerpt there is a clear majority in favor of a guest worker program, a larger majority in favor of normalization of existing illegal immigrants (these two proposals are entirely compatible), another clear majority in favor of "tougher enforcement and a guest worker program" together (again, completely compatible with both of the preceding majorities, the only interesting note is that its larger than the support for a guest worker program alone, showing that support for a guest worker program increases when it is explicitly coupled with tougher enforcement, which makes sense), and a plurality (not a majority, much less a sizable one) favoring a border fence and felony criminalization.

There is nothing in the excerpt you posted (which, clicking through, seems to be the entirety of the immigration-related results) to support your claim of "sizable majorities...in favor of practically everything", nor to distrust it. Apparently, you think majorities favoring mutually compatible elements of an approach to a single policy issue is a reason to distrust polls. What kind of sense does that make?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK
you are still missing the truth behind and about this poll. what is not told to us in the poll is who was polled. if you where to take this poll in L.A. with people who have crossed the boarded you get the numbers you have.

Always, as one of the Als likes to say, click the link:

The nationwide Times/Bloomberg poll contacted 1,357 adults, including 1,234 registered voters, from Saturday through Tuesday. The survey, supervised by Times Polling Director Susan Pinkus, has a margin of sampling error for both groups of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

If you look at the margin between those supporting and opposing these three immigration proposals, the clear favorite seems to be #2, where there's nearly a 50% gap between the percentage for and against, and a significantly smaller percentage of undecideds than with the other two. On this basis I think it's also possible to rule out #3 entirely because nearly as many oppose it as support it -- not a good formula for most politicians.

I've heard #1 (guest workers) referred to as the European immigration model; #3 sure sounds an awful ot like the current Israeli model. Perhaps these numbers indicate a preference for #2, the American model.

Posted by: topper on April 13, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK
If you look at the margin between those supporting and opposing these three immigration proposals, the clear favorite seems to be #2

Since they aren't competing proposals, as all four options polled are mutually compatible, there is no real compelling reason to look for a "favorite" among them.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

You pathetic loser's amuse me.
Posted by: professor rat on April 13, 2006 at 11:30 AM

I assume you're not an english professor.

Posted by: Ringo on April 13, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, I think Kevin has it about right. Because Repubs poll stronger on national security, the Shrumocrats will focus entirely on overcoming that perception, puff it up as the biggest issue going and "America Can Do Better." That's their JOB--losing elections and keeping out of DC any fresh air that would undermine their own power. When Barack Obama, a centrist with a conflicted view on Iraq and no stated view I know of on government secrecy, is touted as their only "successful" candidate coming out of 2004, you know that the Dem Party image-makers are clueless failures. Sorry to be so negative, and hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: W Action on April 13, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

"While the short-term benefit may accrue to those who favor a tougher enforcement policy, the long-term implications of the issue are less clear. At the moment, neither political party enjoys unity within its own ranks on the issue. Politicians from both sides are struggling with the nuances of the issue."

I guess because the analysis of the Rasmussen poll wasn't in its first sentence, Al couldn't find it. Good boy. Good Bushcovite. Here's your treat.

Posted by: W Action on April 13, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Expect a midterm campaign heavily based on national security issues. I hope we're ready."

This a huge opportunity for the Democrats. It's been staring them in the face for 4 years.

Remind the public that he turned tail and ran on 9-11 itself - and had ignored warnings previously.

Remind them of the botched job in Afganistan. The debacle in Iraq.

Pound it home: vote democrat if for the security of the country.

But they won't. Kerry had the chance at the end of the 2004 Election after the Osama tape. All he had to say was "Bush had 3 years to get him - he didn't. I will." But instead his advisors sniveled. Pathetic.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 13, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

This is because immigration is not the problem. Immigration is a symptom of the real problem:
Low wages and corporations externalizing the social costs of their employees.

Where is the option that says "Raise the minimum wage and force employers to pay current American citizens a living wage."?

Where is the option that requires free trade agreements guarantee the right to union representation in partner countries? Where is the option that demands minimum wage standards for foreign countries?

The issue that concerns most Americans is not immigration. Most Americans are concerned because a smaller portion of the pie goes to the workers every year. Trickle down is not working. Immigration is a scapegoat.

Posted by: bakho on April 13, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

All he had to say was "Bush had 3 years to get him - he didn't. I will."
Here's my question, will he get Osama before or after he voted for the $87B?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 13, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Not so fast...

Dems think they have the MAJORITY on immigration?

WRONG -- people don't express their xenophobia, in polls, because most people care what the pollster thinks.

This issue - combined with the Preparation H candidacy will bring out the white majority AGAINST - not for - but AGAINST

1. Brokeback America
2. the sight of a million mexicans waving red white and green.
3. the Clintons part II

BRILLIANT STRATEGY

Have none of you asked why there was no VIABLE anti war candidate last time out?

Because the same fix is in.

Dems are now the party of Illegal Immigrants? -- serving WHOM? -- answer: the same big business interests that pull dubyas strings.

WE get two choices - tweedles dum or dee.

Both will kill for Israel.

Both will swamp the country with people to drive down wages.

Both will bust the budget for the next century - rewarding business associates, friends and family.

NEITHER WILL SERVE YOU

fucking duffers.....

Posted by: karen on April 13, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

JFD is so depressingly right: "When the bombs start dropping on Tehran, that moment will decide whether or not [Democrats] do any damage in 2006."

The current conflict in Iraq was started to assure GWB could remain a "War President" in the 2004 election. The Iraq war is a debacle, so a new one is necessary for the 2006 election.

It is scary, really, truly, can't-sleep scary, that the same clowns that started the Iraq War are still in power and are convinced that they can "change the Middle East" by starting ANOTHER war in the area.

There was a quote in the New Yorker article by Seymore Hersh that really showed just how deluded these people are. They believe they have to win the "hearts and minds" of the Iranian people, AND they think that bombing Iran will do that.

If you haven't read it yet, go to the website. Read the article. And lose sleep for the next three years, until these dangerous fools complete their terms and go back to their "ranches" to cut brush.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 13, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, "professor," learn the difference between plural and possessive, OK?

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 13, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

So guess what? Expect a midterm campaign heavily based on national security issues.

And demonizing gays.

Posted by: Karl Rove on April 13, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Illegal immigrants have a lobby?

Yeah, it's called the "business community".

Posted by: Juanita de Talmas on April 13, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kevin:

"Polls aren't very reliable, but hey, look at all the good news for Democrats!"

Posted by: tbrosz on April 13, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin said:

"...Democrats are way ahead in the generic congressional ballot...."

i consider myself a libertarian and i tend to support republicans over democrats. however, after reading this:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060412/ap_on_go_ot/monthly_budget_3
,i think we would be better off if the dems take control of at least one house of congress this year. at least dems won't claim to be for smaller gov't while expanding it and spending madly to help themselves retain power. maybe reps will get religon again if they get a slap in november.

busby not being able to win outright in ca50 is not a good sign. but i can hope.

Posted by: Brian on April 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Just a question for the "pro-wall" people. How much will a, say, 700 mile wall cost? And, who will pay for it? Perhaps we could sell advertising space?

Posted by: CT on April 13, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

CT:

Israel is spending a bit under $2 million a mile for its wall, which is considerably beefier than what we'd need for most of the border. I think the border wall in San Diego costs about the same per mile.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 13, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Just a question for the "pro-wall" people. How much will a, say, 700 mile wall cost? And, who will pay for it? Perhaps we could sell advertising space?

Maybe we could get the Chinese to sell us a piece of their wall for a bargain price at one of their Wall-Mart outlets.

Posted by: Ned on April 13, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Israel is spending a bit under $2 million a mile for its wall, which is considerably beefier than what we'd need for most of the border. I think the border wall in San Diego costs about the same per mile.

The real cost of the wall will be staffing it. Walls are only as good as the guards manning them. A largely unmanned wall will either be useless, or will require an absurd quantiy (ie., 700 miles worth) of detection devices, cameras, etc. "Sealing" the border (something the Lou Dobbs crowd is clamoring for) will require two million troops, and so is quite infeasible from the perspective of US political economy.

Making the border merely "a lot less easy to sneak across" (i.e, achieving, say, a 90% reduction in the flow of illegals, but still missing tens of thousands who manage to cross) will probably require something like 200,000 extra border guards. Remember, nobody works 168 hours a week, and lots of new hires will have to go for administrative positions, plus, many recruits will have to go to the extremely lightly guarded Canadian frontier. So, at best, I'd say no more than 15% or so of any recruitment drive will actually be guarding the Mexican border at a given time. Thus, even recruiting 200,000 new border guards means we'll have no more than 40,000 or so people on the 2,000 mile Mexican frontier at peak times. When you actually do the analyisis, the near impossibility of relying primarily on an enforcement approach becomes apparent. The costs involved would be daunting even for a country whose public finances were in good shape. For the US, the costs aren't remotely supportable.

And this, of course, is before we even get to cost-benefit analysis. Would, say, an additional $40 billion for border security be worth it? I doubt it. What would we get in return? A safer country? Most of the analysis I've seen suggests a far better payoff comes from spending the money on intelligence, or on economic development in the Islamic world, or on port security. We may see an uptick in wages, but only a tiny one, and it's not even clear if wages would increase at all (http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=6771382). State and local governments would probably save some money in the long run, but the Federal government would almost certainly lose money in the long run. Oh, and economic growth will slow down.

So, what's being proposed here is spending tens of billions for basically nothing in return, plus less growth, plus deteriorating relations with Mexico, plus more strain on a budget that funds, among other necessities, national security.

Sign me up.

For the record, although I think building a wall on the Mexican border is a stupid idea, I don't think the $10 billion it will cost (for anybody who buys the $2.2 billion figure, I've got a $9,000 toilet seat I want to sell you) is necessarily wasted if it helps soothe the country's psyche, and so manages to dampen the xenophobic hysteria threatening to poison national life.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on April 13, 2006 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Something has been puzzling me. I hear that 10-12 million illegal entrants are in the US. Illegals come in at a rate of 500 per day, a million per year.

But the population of Mexico is around 106 Million. ~10% of the Mexican population is in the USA illegally? ~1% is entering the US annually?

Are these figures be exaggerated?

Both sides have motive--the entrants exaggerate to make their numbers seem overwhelming. And the nativists exaggerate to make the threat seem more huge.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 13, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Curse bad eyes.

That point should read, "Illegals come in at a rate of 5000 per day, about 1.8 million per year?"

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 13, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

"So guess what? Expect a midterm campaign heavily based on national security issues. I hope we're ready."

Wow, Kevin! Who could have guess that your keen, one point analysis would lead to the exact same conclusion that you already believed? So, have you made a list of euphemisms for "why can't democrats be as serious about national security as republicans?" Or will you just stick to the one line, but change the tone of the whine?

How about "Our national security against foreign threats is superb. It was only through the grossest of incompetence that the attacks of 9/11 were allowed to occur, and even with the same incompetants in charge, we have prevented all other attacks. There is no nation or group external to the United States capable of and willing to do more than superficial harm to us. Instead we must focus on the damage we have done to ourselves, which has been far greater than anything Al Qaida could ever achieve, and represents a threat to our way of life far greater than Iran, Syria, Al Qaida, and North Korea combined.

Our medical system has runaway costs, burdening our families and hamstringing our business in global competition. Our school performance is stagnant or declining, and our youth are losing the sense that America is a land of opportunity. We are exporting our jobs overseas, and our economy has been floating on inflated real estate and debt. The same forces of fundementalism we consider a threat in foreign countries batter our own consitution on a daily basis, trying to impose their regressive views on religion on our entire country.

WE are the greatest country on earth. But for three decades now, one political party has told us that means we can rest on our laurels, let other people do our governance for us. They have worked mightily to seperate Americans from their government, to treat it as their enemy, even as they used the government to enrich themselves.

It is time to repair the damage that party has done. It is time to bravely take up the responsibilities of citizens living in a democracy - education, debate, and most of all all, vigilance."

Thats what I want to hear, Kevin. All this bullshit about Iran is just a distraction from the real problems America faces, and its time you came to grips with that. There is nothing seriously threatening America than can be fixed by any amount of military force.

Posted by: Mysticdog on April 14, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

Having spent 17 years in the marketing research business, I can assure you that marketing researchers know that the big problem with surveys is that people like to be agreeable and tell the pollster what he wants to hear. The word "undocumented" is a dead giveaway of the pollster's bias, so it's hardly surprising the pollster's bias was confirmed.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 14, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer: "The word "undocumented" is a dead giveaway of the pollster's bias"

A negative attitude towards open borders would be communicated by using "illegal" rather than "undocumented"?

My complaint is with the term "immigrant". "Immigrant" conjures up the powerful narrative of the American dream, that inspiring national identity, captured in:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

As a result we get earnest platitudes when we try to discuss the issue, such as "we are all immigrants" or teary evocations of the contributions that the children and grandchildren of immigrants will make. Sentiment is substituted for realistic evaluation. It is the liberal equivalent of George Bush claiming that the War in Iraq is "freedom is on the march." It may be an example of the "fallacy of the undistributed middle"

I have yet to be persuaded that "immigrant" is the right term for people who cross the US border to find work in defiance of the laws that have been established for those who want to study, work or take up permanent residence in the US.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 14, 2006 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK
I have yet to be persuaded that "immigrant" is the right term for people who cross the US border to find work in defiance of the laws that have been established for those who want to study, work or take up permanent residence in the US.

If they come here with the intent to reside permanently, whether the motivation is work, scenery, culture, or otherwise, its pretty clear that in English the right word is "immigrant".

If you want to invent your own language, go right ahead, but don't confuse its usages with those of English.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

What is interesting about the LA Times poll is that it indicated more Democrats than Republicans are unhappy about the current levels of illegal immigration. The article on the poll theorized that such a split is because more registered Democrats are lower income or blue collar and therefore feel they're more vulnerable to competition from and the general impact of large numbers of illegal aliens.

Posted by: Tom on April 14, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Tom - you hit the nail on the head. The real "wedge" issue (that won't be discovered until after the Nov. elections) is within the Democratic Party. Few blacks favor illegal immigration, it has already stifled raises for many black, low-skill workers over the years, and the situation will exacerbate if one of the Senate bills eventually passes.

Most Americans, by this time, realize that Bush's and the Democrats' favorite pro-illegal immigration chant, "they do jobs that Americans won't do" doesn't apply to many no-skill, big city laborers, such as the garbagemen in Chicago that make over $60,000/year. The average American defines how "good" a job is by the amount of the paycheck. So, if you increase the pay, the job automatically improves. Kind'a like magic! The Spin-o-crats need to work on another slogan, this one has been compromised by the public.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 14, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

I would have answered yes to all three questions, too. I am surprised that Kevin Drum doesn't see that this "support of everything" is an utterly sensible course to follow. It is a rejection both of the meanspritied, xenophobic faction that would deport 11 million people, and also of the cheap labor/La Raza lobby, which really wants illegal immigration to continue, so we can have this debate every 20 years, while Latino political power increases, eventually reaching open borders nirvana.

The solution is simple and elegant: remove the criminalization procedures from the House bill, and graft the rest of it onto the Senate bill.

Posted by: markus on April 15, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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