May 23, 2007

Compromise Has Little Public Support

If the architects of the comprehensive immigration reform plan expected to reap political favor for their ability to reach a bipartisan compromise, they will find themselves disappointed. A Rasmussen study shows that a near-majority oppose the plan altogether, with the rest split between acceptance and uncertainty:

Initial public reaction to the immigration proposal being debated in the Senate is decidedly negative.

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey conducted Monday and Tuesday night shows that just 26% of American voters favor passage of the legislation. Forty-eight percent (48%) are opposed while 26% are not sure. The bi-partisan agreement among influential Senators and the White House has been met with bi-partisan opposition among the public. The measure is opposed by 47% of Republicans, 51% of Democrats, and 46% of those not affiliated with either major party.

The next part of the report shows that Congress as a whole may have missed the pulse of the nation. Instead of focusing on normalization, they could improve their standing immensely -- in both parties -- by addressing border security as a primary and separate initiative:

The enforcement side of the debate is clearly where the public passion lies on the issue. Seventy-two percent (72%) of voters say it is Very Important for “the government to improve its enforcement of the borders and reduce illegal immigration.” That view is held by 89% of Republicans, 65% of Democrats, and 63% of unaffiliated voters.

In view of these numbers, tackling the problem in an integrated manner is a huge mistake on both sides of the aisle. The notion that the border issue cannot be divorced from addressing the status of the extant illegals only seems to hold true inside the Beltway. In the rest of the nation, voters appear to easily distinguish between the two -- and probably wonder why their elected representatives cannot.

Since I still have a membership at Rasmussen, I have access to the crosstabs -- and they tell a very interesting story. Not a single demographic in the study favors this proposal, except under Race:Other. Democrats oppose it 51-28. Republicans oppose it 47-25. Men and women both clearly oppose it. Only people ages 30-39 come close to overcoming opposition, 34-32 in opposition.

But when the subject turns to border security, the numbers turn even more dramatic. Every single demographic -- race, gender, age, and political orientation -- has majorities that show border security as "very important". The only one below 60% is Race:Other again, but almost all of the others score in the 70s or higher. While a number of demographics score the importance of legalizing illegal aliens as at least somewhat important, it carries far less enthusiasm than border security.

The data is so compelling, one has to wonder why Congress hasn't realized that they could offer a win for everyone by focusing exclusively on border security as an entrée to immigration reform. They literally would please every possible constituency by doing so, and would almost overnight dial down the emotion over the rest of the issue. Only in DC could the governing class be so out of touch with the national mood.

UPDATE: The news is not all bad for comprehensive reform. From the Rasmussen summary:

Still, 65% of voters would be willing to support a compromise including a “very long path to citizenship” provided that “the proposal required the aliens to pay fines and learn English” and that the compromise “would truly reduce the number of illegal aliens entering the country.” The proposal, specifically described as a compromise, was said to include “strict employer penalties for hiring illegal aliens, building a barrier along the Mexican border and other steps to significantly reduce the number of illegal aliens entering the United States.”

It would seem that the key would be to win the confidence of the voters that this bill really does those things. If it does and it does it plainly and with border enforcement first (along with "a barrier along the Mexican border"), then there is obvious support for it. There's a lot more for handling this in two completely separate phases, though, which seems to undermine the notion that only a comprehensive plan can unite the nation. Clearly, a borders-only bill to start would have tremendous support, given the data here.


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Comments (15)

Posted by Ken Muller | May 23, 2007 4:09 PM

I suspect the disapproval will grow as more of the bill gets publicized.

Let see how much political courage the RINOs and the Democrats have. (I think the RINOs here are toast already)

There's nothing like a big fire to bring out the crowd.

Posted by DaveD | May 23, 2007 4:25 PM

And the public's focus on enforcement is also quite different from President Bush's priorities on this issue

Posted by Carol Herman | May 23, 2007 4:41 PM

Why? Because it's a habit men have.

ONE: Don't ask for directions, even when you're lost.


TWO: Don't ask the horse which way to go.

Horses, ya know, aren't asked. They're just saddled up.

WHY did Congress toodle off this this direction? For the same reason, as soon as Ma Kettle's ass hit the majority chair; she did what made her happy. Not what worked! Because, certainly, by the time 2008 rolls around, you're gonna have to see more meat on the Blue Dog bones, no?

The major problem still remains Bush. Tongue-tied at best. And, really, really comfortable in the company of rich men. Like the Kennedy's. Probably, too, the Kerry's. But Kerry doesn't hang around to do anything. His one note is to accuse our troops of abuse. Meanwhile? He's just a gigolo.

My guess is that the "immigration bill" evaporates.

But what the WINNER needs now is MESSAGE. Not recycled crap. (Though it is a slow news holiday weekend; so just trotting out stuff. And, waiting for the messiah to show up; is about what's expected now.

Did some candidates get caught with their pants down? Oh, I suppose. But the 8 contendahs sound so programmed ... it's hard to tell if they're purposely being this bad. Or if they're waiting for a more opportune time to fly out of the wings.

While, leave it to Drudge. Does that man ever sleep? He's running the headline that Hillary is being TOLD to avoid Iowa. (I guess, where she could win a blue ribbon as a pig, she's not interested in "that" award.) And, she's trying to stay "viable."

Bush also seems to be waiting for something to "happen." At first? He thought Israel would go to new elections. Now? Who knows? But Condi is either living out of her suitcase; ready to run to the Mideast, boots on. And, waving her fingers.

Or there are enough fears in DC. Leave it to Drudge to put this one up. But the donks in congress, with their TWO PERCENT, have about 30 "investigations" going on ... In order to find a scandal or two to "slow Bush down."

Like he could go even slower?

Americans go on vacation this weekend. Won't pay attention to much of the stuff that flies. Then, after Labor Day; after a summer in the sun. (Or under "ice" if the global warning experts have their say?)

But in the Fall.

The winner in the foot race to the 2008 nomination will have to unveil NEW IDEAS. NEW PLANS. A whole new baby.

Guiliani? He's gotta recover from his flubs.

Sometimes, you can be too popular. But then? People won't come when you open the show.

Reminds me how Drudge kept needling Jennifer Anison. He was merciless. He kept showing how the hollywood moguls kept banking on Anison. Spent bundles. Only to find she couldn't attract an audience.

Of course. Wholesale. First you spend the money. You make your bets that you're good at planning for the public's future tastes.

Meanwhile? The Internet will change some of the dynamics. For instance? Hillary can avoid Iowa; but she can't avoid what people think of her. Especially in the world of the internet. Where our opinions run free.

Oh, it's a wonder to me, that a small slice of the GOP, with their wacky social agenda; haven't figured out that the "under 30 crowds" are not on board. That what they're proposing is NOT increasing the size of the voting pool.

But the idiots just luv their labels. RINO's, by the way, have faded away to INDEPENDENTS. And, as last November showed ya. They're willing to vote for the democraps. As long as the democraps offer Blue Dogs.

Now, the disapproval for the immigration bill HIT ALL CORRIDORS. So, you'd be surprised. There are even Mexicans, who are legit. Who have citizenship. And, some for generations! The last thing they want in their neighborhoods are the Mexican gangs. And, the infestation of Mexican labor, that tears at the fabric they built. Their schools, too, sunk into the toilet.

But go ahead. Convince yourselves that "only right wingers" are on this train! Sorry. But in a free country you can believe anything you want.

Add on, that Bush is NOT popular! He's got no White House pulpit. He can't speak to the people, anymore, and convince them of a thing. (Which means? For Iraq, they need General Patraeus. Just like when Jimmy Carter was president. The days will be measured until January 20, 2009.)

It's going to take guts to deliver a new message to the public, at large. The donks got nothing to run with. The bigger threat, too, that looms, is gonna come from 3rd party candidates. Who wants to step up to the plate, spend a billion dollars, and be the next Harold Stassen?

Well, Barnum would tell ya, plan big. Have lots of activity in your tent. And, make your money selling tickets. Helps, too, if you have the peanut and popcorn concession stands.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | May 23, 2007 4:42 PM

"one has to wonder why Congress hasn't realized that they could offer a win for everyone by focusing exclusively on border security as an entrée to immigration reform. They literally would please every possible constituency by doing so, and would almost overnight dial down the emotion over the rest of the issue."

Half right. Enforcement is the issue. However, Congress has no credibility on enforcement because it refused to build the fence that it agreed to build just last year.

Congress, how do we know you are lying about enforcement?

Your lips move. (sorry an old joke). : ))

The point, there is NOTHING congress can say to gain credibility on this issue.

Like it or not, immigration has to be an issue for 08.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | May 23, 2007 5:03 PM

Angry Dumbo,

Point of order... or something. Enforcement is an Executive obligation. Congress can pass whatever it wants. Ultimately, it means nothing, no matter how strongly and precisely worded, if the Executive stands idly by.

As much as I despise Congress and the gamesmanship, this isn't all their doing.

However, I agree with your final two points wholeheartedly.

Posted by RBMN | May 23, 2007 5:04 PM

Most people are still suffering from the misimpression that the current laws (against employers) can fix the problem, if only they were generously enforced. I don't know how that myth got started, but it's just not true. We have the current mess because the current laws are loophole ridden. They're not enforced because they're so easy for employers to circumvent.

Posted by jmorrison | May 23, 2007 5:24 PM

man, just enforce the damn laws you have. who cares if you can't deport them all. just keep enforcing the law you will see a result. the politicos don't want this just ask why?

Posted by Bill Faith | May 23, 2007 6:13 PM

Why not just enforcement? Because as long as Jorge's in La Casa Blanca any such law would be vetoed at worst or simply ignored at best. That's why I favor just tabling the whole discussion for a couple of years. If the Dhimms come out on top in Nov '08 we'll have bigger problems than just border enforcement. If enough people are smart enough to vote for Fred! and give him a Republican congress to work with, then maybe there will be hope for really doing something sensible about immigration.

It ain't over till the fat lady goes back to Mexico.  

Posted by Nate | May 23, 2007 6:17 PM

Only in DC could the governing class be so out of touch with the national mood.

They know the national mood, and they're doing it anyway. That's one of the things that make it infuriating. Any enforcement of the law that actually results in illegal aliens not being able to continue working in the US is a non-starter for all of them. National security, adherence to the rule of law, and plain old common sense all take a back seat to the need to keep this cheap labor. Well, if these Senators don't have to uphold their oaths, and these illegal invaders don't have to obey the law, why in the hell should the rest of us? There goes the nation.

Posted by sherlock | May 23, 2007 8:45 PM

"They know the national mood, and they're doing it anyway."

But you see, the "national mood" they care about is not just that of US citizens, but also the national mood of "La Raza". Multo voters there, senor.

You actually think these Reps and Senators work for us? Sorry, but they work for whomever will give them the votes to hold onto their very lucrative jobs. You might as well believe your boss works for you. He may draw all sorts of upside-down pyramids for you at staff meetings, but unfortunately at Christmastime, his bonus comes from HIS boss, not you!

Posted by Kinch | May 23, 2007 9:11 PM

I have this mental picture of a Senator telling me that he has reached a compromise with a would-be rapist. That instead of raping my wife and my daughter, he will just rape my daughter.

And I'm supposed to be happy with that.

Posted by quickjustice | May 23, 2007 9:14 PM

I'm cross-posting this from an earlier comment:

By default (or the political influence of employers who want cheap, low-skill labor), we already have chosen cheaper goods resulting from cheap immigrant labor, plus high taxes to support the social services required to support the cheap labor. That's the status quo.

By making this default choice (the status quo), we ensure the perpetuation, and the likely proliferation, of a massive social services bureaucracy at high current and future cost to all of us in taxes.

If we choose higher labor costs by imposing stringent controls on illegal labor (through the existing Simpson-Mazzoli mechanism of sanctioning employers for hiring illegals), we pay more for goods, but less for social services in taxes and bureaucracy.

To a conservative, it's a no-brainer.

The current proposal tries to please everyone, and pleases no one. All proposals for amnesty or massive guest worker programs are backdoor prescriptions for perpetuating massive social services bureaucracies into the future, unless the guest workers are highly skilled.

We should welcome the high-skilled immigrants, not the low-skilled. Congress should fund border enforcement, plus enforcement against those employing illegal, low-skill immigrants.

Posted by amr | May 23, 2007 9:41 PM

Since the 2006 bill to build 700 + miles of border fencing has built 2 or 12 miles, depending on the source, and the promise of border security after amnesty in the 1986 bill, why should anyone believe that this bill will do much about security on the borders, regardless of its wording? Thus in another 20 years we will be facing a worse problem with people again screaming for amnesty. Fool me once same on you. Fool me twice shame on me.

Posted by Keemo | May 24, 2007 7:47 AM

Read this.....

Not a single politician can be trusted to take the steps necessary to secure our borders and stop the illegal flow of every kind of human from entering our country and causing this kind of harm...

We had better unite and get real loud & stay real loud. I hate to admit it, but Bush is the worst of all on this critical lack of responsibility to perform his duties... Damn disgusting to swallow this reality.

Posted by George B | May 24, 2007 11:51 AM

The key to reducing illegal immigration is employer level enforcement to make it difficult for illegal aliens to move from the cash economy to jobs where they receive a regular paycheck. I would start by requiring employers with 500 or more employees to make a good faith effort to avoid hiring illegal aliens by using the best data available, a private background check using data from credit reporting agencies. If the job history on the application is inconsistent with the credit report for that social security number, the employer is open to massive fines if they hire the person anyway without resolving the inconsistency. Lack of a credit history should at least block new illegals from going directly to the job at the meat packing plant.

The choice between cheap illegal immigrant labor and more expensive legal labor is a false choice. If the number of illegal immigrants gradually reduced, there would be an incentive for automation so more work could be done with fewer workers.