Immigration Reform “Bonanza”

I didn’t initially see the big Emily Schultheis piece at Politico yesterday arguing that comprehensive immigration reform could permanently shift the political landscape towards Democratic victory (at least at the presidential level). But my immediate reaction was to wonder if Schultheis was secretly in the pay of anti-reform conservatives who want to sabotage Republican support for immigration legislation. If you strictly follow her interpretation of the math, there’s zero way any warm feelings for the GOP spurred by support for reform could offset the massive tide of new Democratic voters.

At The Guardian, Harry Enten makes short work of the math (a majority of undocumented workers may not choose the arduous “path to citizenship;” and a majority of those who arrive may not actually vote), and concludes that reform would produce only a modest “bonanza” for Democrats independent of other factors. At RCP, Sean Trende does his own math and concludes the main electoral risk for Republicans in embracing immigration reform is that it might depress their support levels among downscale white voters.

I’m sure none of us know exactly how this legislation will play out in any detail four and eight and twelve years down the road. For me, it’s enough that it’s the right thing to do, and that a significant number of Republicans either agree or think a big majority of Americans agree as well. Those who strongly disagree may suffer some political damage even if there is no voter “bonanza” in the legislation benefitting Democrats.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.