Accusations of Racism Aren’t Helping GOP Expand Voter Base

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The Center for Immigration Studies recently released a study demonstrating the way immigrants tend to filter through the U.S. political system and what that could mean for votes. Immigration has always been a political issue, and Republicans have been more clearly in favor of a harder line, while Democrats are on average more sympathetic to citizenship pathways for undocumented immigrants.

This latest examination in the political leanings of immigrants puts an especially fine point on how the influx of voters will look as time goes on. It is especially notable considering the changing political rhetoric in the Democratic Party at present — that is, right before Congressional elections.

CIS’s analysis showed that legal immigrants are arriving in the United States at a rate of more than 1 million per year, and that this influx is altering votership within the country in favor of Democrats. And while it’s true that Republican opinions on illegal immigration range depending on region, the analysis shows that partisanship for the most part does not, despite local positions. The organization also notes that, “if legal immigration levels remain at the current levels … it will likely continue to undermine Republicans’ political prospects moving forward.”

The analysis adds: “Further, if the substantial increases in legal immigration in Senate’s Gang of Eight bill (S.744) were to become law it would accelerate this process.” Lowering the rate of legal immigration would aid Republicans by altering the voting demographic, it points out.

That said, limiting the number of immigrants coming into America is not the only way to turn around voting for the GOP, as the Libre Initiative, a Koch brothers group, demonstrates. The Libre Initiative offers classes in English, help gaining a driver’s license, and a number of other Hispanic-targeted programs with the goal of fostering warm relations with potential voters in Arizona and Florida.

While the group is self-described as nonpartisan, its policy preferences are highly anti-Obamacare, while the Hispanic population in the U.S. is more in favor of the healthcare reform program than the rest of the overall population, according to Reuters. Michael Barrera, previously of the Bush administration and currently part of Libre, told Reuters, “If they trust us, they may seek our opinion on something else,” and that the group had put together a mailing list of 90,000 individuals over the course of the past three years.

The attempt to curry favor with groups not historically right-leaning may be too little too late, though, in light of recent accusations from Democrats in Congress that Republican counterparts are racist. When asked whether this was the case, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Leader Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said, per CNN, “To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism. And that’s unfortunate.”

While he wouldn’t be the first to discuss the racial and socioeconomic makeup of the GOP, others within the Democratic Party are critical of this as a midterm election strategy. “Very risky to accuse the GOP of outright, overt racism,” said one Democratic strategist to The Washington Post. “Midterms are about motivating your base, so perhaps that is what’s going on. I think more Democrats should take their cues from President Obama, who to my knowledge has never accused his opponents of being racially motivated.”

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