Saturday, July 01, 2006

Conservative Reasonableness on Immigration

Michael Barone writes that the primary victory of Republican Representative Chris Cannon in a conservative district in Utah suggests that the assumption that Republicans will turn out for candidates favoring a harsh, enforcement only approach to immigration may be wrong:

With all precincts reporting, Cannon leads challenger John Jacob by a 56-to-44 percent margin. Ordinarily, this would be considered a narrow margin for an incumbent in a primary. But the self-financing Jacob spent heavily on a campaign based on the immigration issue. Cannon has backed a guest-worker program as part of a larger immigration package, and he has supported in-state tuition at state colleges and universities for children of illegal immigrants. Jacob opposed the former as "amnesty" and the latter as an outrage. It is conventional wisdom in many quarters that Republican voters overwhelmingly favor a border-security-only approach to immigration. Cannon's victory casts some doubt on that.

After pointing out that this district favored Bush over Kerry in 2004 by 77% to 20%, Barone adds:

Still, Cannon's victory stands for the proposition that support for a comprehensive immigration bill is not political death in a Republican primary, even in a very conservative district that has been affected by immigration (in 2000, 10 percent of its residents were Hispanic; presumably the percentage of Hispanics voting in the Republican primary this year was much smaller).

All of this suggests that Republican voters are more reasonable about current realities regarding the need for comprehensive immigration reform -- including enforcement, improvements in legal immigration policy, and a reasonable approach to the problem of large numbers of illegals currently in the country-- than Republican politicians give them credit for.

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