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July 11, 2013 11:05 AM The Immigration Blame Game

By Jonathan Bernstein

A good point from Dave Hopkins:

Will be hard for GOP leaders to blame Dems if immig reform falls apart in part b/c plenty of conservatives will take credit for killing it.

The trick will be threading the needle somehow, right? To be clear: within the conservative information loop, it’s probably perfectly possible for both arguments to gather steam, both that conservative heroes saved the nation from an amnesty bill and that Barack Obama deliberately undermined the bill for cynical political reasons. Make them forcefully, and no one who wants to support the GOP line will notice a contradiction.

However, the key constituency for the argument is neutral Latino groups and opinion leaders (and perhaps also GOP-aligned Latino leaders who are nevertheless upset about their position on the issue and considering splitting). For them, yeah, it does seem that having a bunch of conservatives celebrating the death of a bill might be a problem.

Come to think of it, there’s probably another key constituency: both Latinos and non-Latinos who would otherwise be open to the GOP but are disgusted by what they perceive as intolerance. The problem there is obvious; it’s more than likely that those conservatives bragging about killing the bill will say things that sound intolerant to that constituency, and Democrats will certainly be aggressive about making sure the right ears hear what’s being said. Indeed, the strongest argument for passing a bill (when it comes to electoral politics) is that getting the issue off the table will reduce the chances of Republican politicians saying the wrong thing in the future.

Anyway, in related immigration discussion, I have a post up at PP talking about what’s going wrong for immigration in the House — it needs full-out Republican supporters, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.