Friday, July 15, 2005

The Pete Wilson strategy

A few weeks back Colorado Luis asserted that the "mexican time" comment by Bob Beauprez was not just an innocent slip of the tongue but really part of a GOP strategy to use immigration as the social wedge issue for the 2006 elections. Luis wrote,
"I think we need to consider the possibility that this so-called "gaffe" was part of a very intentional political strategy for 2006, which I'll call the Pete Wilson strategy after the governor of California who won re-election in 1994 in a campaign that was viewed as virulently anti-Latino and anti-Asian-American. That campaign was based on the idea that if Wilson could pick up 60% of the white vote, he would win no matter what. He picked up 61% and won. If you don't believe me, check out Pat Buchanan's argument praising Wilson's 1994 strategy and arguing that future GOP victories in California and nationally depend on mobilizing the white vote on the issue of immigration."
Some were dismissive of this assertion but I found it intriguing, it would be classic Rovian-GOP strategy - find a social wedge issue to bring your base out. Given the normal downturn in electoral turnout at mid-term elections as well as the President and Congress's low poll numbers the GOP has to find something to bring their base out to the polls in 2006.

Two days ago the Rocky ran a story on Rep. Tom Tancredo's recent Presidential campaign swings through Iowa,

"Despite all that, Tancredo created a buzz of his own. He got enough standing ovations from hard-core conservative Iowa voters that it should worry any top-tier presidential hopefuls who thought they could get through 2008 without touching the immigration hot-button."
Today I came across a Congressional Insiders Poll which contained some fascinating data. Question #2 was, "Which one issue is most on the minds of your constituents these days?" 37 congressional Republican's responded and 17 said immigration, the next highest was 10 - the economy. Look at some of the quotes from these Republican's that accompanied the poll,
"Immigration: Highest-octane issue in America"

"Concern and anger over illegal immigration continues to become a louder drumbeat..."
Last night in Denver Howard Dean expressed concern that immigration would be the social wedge issue in 2006,
"He charged that Republicans have prospered by stirring up fears about quotas and gays, and he predicted the next hot-button issue for the GOP would be immigration."
I think it's safe to say that Luis was certainly onto something. In all honesty in the short term I don't think the Republican's stand to lose much electoraly. The GOP's gains in Hispanic support have largely been discredited as the result of faulty exit polls. In addition only 1 in 5 eligible Hispanic voters actually votes and Hispanics make up a small percentage of the overall electorate, the folks at The Emerging Democratic Majority provide excellent analysis of these numbers here. Short term the strategy might work for them, long term they could lose the Hispanic vote for generations much like they lost the African-American vote thanks to the Southern Strategy.


At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Leo Brown said...

Similarly noted at Western Democrat


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