The Hill reports that using immigration reform as a 2014 campaign issue has become a dead end for Democrats, who are avoiding the subject as they run for Congress.
Part of the problem for Democrats is that the very group most vitally interested in the issue, the Latino population, will likely have little impact on the specific races that are critical, with the exception of Mark Udall’s senatorial race in Colorado.
The group most likely to swing the various elections, according to The Hill, is white working-class voters, who are more interested in the plunge in wages that has resulted from higher immigration. This is reflected in Barack Obama’s dwindling support among white voters without college degrees.
Steve Jarding, a Democratic strategist and former advisor to several senators, complained:
In light of turnout models it’s probably not as strong an issue as it would be in presidential years. I still think Democrats have fumbled this issue because they allow the issue to be played on Republican terms. Republicans are trying to suggest immigration is the reason wages are suppressed and it’s a racial issue. I don’t like it. That’s what they’re doing cynically. They’re saying when you get immigration, you suppress the wages of non-immigrants, i.e. white people.
A Rasmussen poll revealed working and middle-class Americans stand against increased immigration; 75% of those earning under $30,000 want it decreased. And a Pew Research Poll echoed that finding, showing 69 percent of Americans think the federal government should work harder to restrict and control people emigrating to the U.S.
Harper Polling found that 86 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of independents want the immigration system changed; most people said the problems should be fixed in 2014.
David “Mudcat” Saunders, a Democratic strategist, admitted:
In southwest Virginia nobody talks about immigration. They’re talking about how they’re getting screwed economically. Kids are fleeing Honduras but at the same time kids are fleeing small-time, third-tier markets in the United States to go to Metropolitan markets. People see their own kids leaving here in the U.S. Democrats talk about the morality of rescuing these kids from Central America. I’m for all that. At the same time, what about the kids fleeing small-town and rural America because there are no economic opportunities?
Jarding said avoiding the immigration issue and focusing on “economic fairness” is what the Democrats should practice, commenting, “If anything, I would argue that your push it harder. They need to convince middle-class voters that they’ve been fighting for them while Republicans have been obstructionists.”
Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, allowed, “The ratings have been pretty bad. There’s been a falloff in his approval rating among all demographics but it’s been particularly sharp among white non-college folks. The continued problems with the economy have really sucked [up] the air.” He went so far as to say immigration reform was a “non-issue” among white working-class voters.
Mike McSherry, a Republican strategist, said that the mass migration of unaccompanied minors across the Texas border would help the GOP because GOP members champion border security before passing any immigration reform bills. He said, “It’s easier for Republicans now because they can say we want to secure the border first.”