Many of us on the Right are erroneously making assumptions about the recently announced Obama amnesty that are not rooted in reality. Namely, people believe that this action automatically delivers up to 5 million people onto the Democratic column come election time. Some have made the case- probably mostly correct- that although this is phrased as a deportation deferment program, once a new President is elected, they will find it difficult to actually rescind the order since it will break up families. It would create a political nightmare. And to those who do not believe that Obama’s action is legal, you are patently wrong. As I stated in a previous entry, legal experts Left and Right- including the conservative Federalist Society- have determined that he has the legal authority. The question is not does he have the authority; the question is should he have used that authority? We should not focus the criticism and energy on legal challenges that will ultimately fail.
As to the assumptions, several things are obvious. First, we do not elect Presidents through the popular vote count, but by electoral votes. Second, Hispanics (legal and otherwise) are not evenly spread throughout the United States population. Even in states with large Hispanic populations, they are not evenly spread. Third, we do not know the exact number of illegal immigrants who will take advantage of this amnesty although I suspect it will be south of the uppermost projected 5 million. Fourth, we do not know how many of them will eventually be allowed to vote and if they will even register to vote. Fifth, if (1) all 5 million take advantage, (2) all are of voting age, (3) all become citizens, (4) all register to vote and (5) all actually do vote, we are making the ultimate wrong assumption that all will vote for the Democrat. Even in a bad election year for Republicans as pertains to the Hispanic vote, they did not vote 100% Democratic. Granted, a 3:1 Democratic advantage is bad, but in no election did any Democrat ever get near 75% of the Hispanic vote.
So, what would happen if all five criteria cited above happens? What would the 2012 electoral outcome be if this amnesty was issued prior to the 2012 election and those who received amnesty voted in the 2012 Presidential election under the worst of circumstances: all 5 million were registered and voted for Barack Obama? Obviously, in the states Obama won, the margin of victory would be larger and in the states Romney won, the margin of victory would be smaller. But, guess what? In 2012, Obama won the electoral vote count 332-206. With 5 million additional Hispanic voters, Barack Obama would have won the electoral vote count 332-206- NO DIFFERENCE. At this point, it should be obvious there is another dynamic in play.
That is because the Hispanic population- legal and otherwise- is not uniformly spread throughout the country. In Texas- a state with a huge Hispanic population (in fact, Texas is 37.6% Hispanic)- Romney still would have won by a comfortable 330,000 votes. In states where Hispanics are 15% or more of the population, Obama won 8 and Romney won 2. With 5 million more potential Hispanic voters, Obama would have won 8 and Romney 2 (Texas and Arizona).
Now, let’s look at 2004 which a better year for the Republican presidential candidate as concerns the Hispanic vote. Again, I am making the erroneous assumption that these 5 million would all vote Democratic (which would run counter to the actual numbers we saw in 2004). In such a scenario, Bush would have lost 4 states that he won in 2004- Iowa, Florida, Colorado and Nevada. That represents a loss of 48 electoral votes and the Presidency. Bush won the electoral vote count over [mc_name name=’Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’K000148′ ], 286-251. Under the hypothetical situation, Kerry would have won 299-238. However, we know that, in fact, the Republican candidate pulled about 40% of the Hispanic vote.
Even if the Republican Party concedes that this can never be attained, let’s see what would happen if George W. Bush pulled 30% of the Hispanic vote as opposed to 40% (more realistic than the falsely assumed 100% amnestied Hispanics for the Democrats). In that case, we give Bush back his 9 electoral votes from Colorado and 7 more from Iowa for a total of 16. He would still fall short because he would lose Nevada and electoral vote-rich Florida and lose to Kerry, 283-254.
But, Florida is a tricky state since there are a variety of Hispanic voters which includes a large Cuban-American population that votes more Republican than Democratic. When we factor in this, Bush would come very close to winning Florida’s electoral votes which he could and would win with increased white voter turnout and peeling off some of the African-American vote from Kerry.
Where this amnesty could present political complications for the GOP in presidential elections is in a scenario where a race is close nationally and the Democratic candidate is performing better than usual in traditionally red states with large Hispanic populations (defined as greater than 10% of their overall population). Those states would be Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, and Texas. Can anyone, with a straight face, make a claim that any of these states are in play in 2016? Instead, the remaining states with large Hispanic populations (same definition as above) are either purple or blue. The blue states are: California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington. Again, can anyone with a straight face claim that a Republican has a realistic chance in these states? That leaves the purple states: Colorado, Florida and Nevada. Collectively, they represent 44 potential electoral votes. But, they are battleground states despite their actual or potential Hispanic population. Thus, we are left with the same electoral pathway to the White House- swing states- with or without the amnesty, although it could make the task tougher in Nevada and possibly Florida. Either way, from the political standpoint, it is a sum zero game.
But that brings me to yet another erroneous assumption, not only by people on the Right, but by most of the political punditocracy: Barack Obama won on the strength of the Hispanic vote in 2008 and 2012. NO President can win election- Democrat or Republican- strictly on the Hispanic vote. As some political experts have noted, Obama won in 2012 not so much because of the Hispanic vote, but because of the defection of many white voters to the Democratic candidate. This starts from another false assumption- in 2012, the GOP had milked the white vote for all it was worth. After all, Obama had the worst performance among whites in 2012 since Walter Mondale in 1984.
However, most of that poor performance by Obama among whites was attributable to the South and Appalachia. And, in fact, Obama suffered dismal electoral losses in these areas. But he also cruised to easy victories in primarily white states like New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Oregon. In short, it was not overwhelming support for Obama among Hispanics that tipped the 2012 election; it was the defection of white voters north of the Mason-Dixon line that cost Romney the election.
Which brings me to the ultimate false assumption being made: the Presidency is forever lost. It is lost only if you see the negative and throw in the towel. Many are seeing 5 million new Democratic voters when that is not reality. The problem becomes a “problem” if the GOP allows Hispanics to go the way of African-Americans- a guaranteed 90% for the Democrats.
Yes, they will thank Barack Obama for ultimate citizenship and, by proxy, the Democratic Party. But once a citizen, wouldn’t they rather want to keep more of the money they earned through their labor? Wouldn’t they want a greater opportunity to actually find a job? Wouldn’t they want the chance to send their children to a quality school of their own choosing? Wouldn’t they be more supportive of a political party that respects the sanctity of life at all stages? Wouldn’t they want affordable heating for their homes? And the list goes on. These are Republican ideals. That is where the battle needs to be fought, not losing a case in a court room.
Personally, I don’t like this action as much as the next guy. It sends a horrible signal to those doing things legally and is an invitation to future illegal immigration. It stretches the boundaries of executive power beyond anything our Founders wanted or contemplated. There is very little good to be found in this. But I am also realistic and believe that this is not the great political apocalypse some people are spouting here and elsewhere. A word of advice: get real and focus your energy on making the case for conservative solutions.