Monday, October 09, 2006

Election in four weeks!

Four weeks from today, voters will go to the polls to vote in Mid-term elections. For the past several months, we have seen how politicians have debated immigration reform with November 7th in mind. Both parties are hedging thier bets that voters will consider their stances on immigration reform when they enter the voting booth. The question remains, however: will immigration be an important deciding factor for voters?

For example, in Arizona, Reuters News Service reports that candidate Randy Graf who won his primary with his tough stand on border issues is now eight points behind challenger Gabrielle Giffords who is touting her comprehensive plan of "enforcenment plus". As noted earlier in this blog, Democrats are also testing out the "tough on enforcement" stance in an attempt to win voters.

Reuters quotes Frank Sharry of the National Immigration Forum: "The Graf and Giffords race is going to be a bellwether for how the House Republican strategy on immigration plays out. Their hard-core constituency is very loud but it's not very large and they have yet to prove that they could swing a general election."

The wild card in this election-baiting game is the Latino vote. Latinos are a fast-growing segent of the electorate that has a diversity of political opinion that crosses traditional party lines. In an interesting article on Latino voters in California, New America Media quotes Adela De la Torre, director of UC Davis' Chicano studies program: "Immigration is a bread-and-butter issue because it deals with people who have family members still in the balance. It's a basic issue for most Latino families."

The article also quotes second-generation voter Daniel Jimenez who says the Republicans want cheap labor from immigrants and Democrats want their votes. "Latinos don't understand they're being used by both parties," he said. "They'll feed them all this stuff they need to hear, but they won't say, 'You guys are keeping Social Security alive and you'll never see that money.'"

Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute notes in an editorial that "as with the general public, Hispanic opinion too can seem murky." She cites a Pew Hispanic Center survey that Latinos have immigration foremost in their minds when considering who to vote for. "When asked which party has a better position on the issue, the share of newcomers favoring the GOP has dropped to just 12 percent (down from 28 percent two years ago), with nearly three times that many favoring the Democratic stance. And when asked which of the parties is more concerned about Latinos, even the foreign-born now choose the Democrats by a margin of three-to-one."

Beyond immigration, analysts have noted strong anti-incumbent sentiment among voters across the country and a desire to see change in Washington. It's difficult to predict what will cross voters' minds inside the voting booth. But in the next few weeks, you'll see many attempts to impress immigration (among other issues) in the forefront of their minds.