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Monday, June 18, 2012

Obama and Immigration: Why the Right Thing to do Was Also the Smart Thing

Obama 'Si Se Puede' campaign button
President Obama's announcement that he will end deportation of undocumented people who came here as children was seen as a gamble. After all, it may get Latino voters more enthusiastic, but what about those who are freaked out about illegal immigration? The president was obviously throwing those votes away. For example, an analysis by the Associated Press:

There's not much President Barack Obama can do to boost the economy in the next five months, and that alone might cost him the November election. But on a range of social issues, Obama is bypassing Congress and aggressively using his executive powers to make it easier for gays to marry, women to obtain birth control, and, now, young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation.

It's a political gamble that might fire up conservatives, many of whom remain cool to Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Democrats think it's more likely to inspire enthusiasm among groups that were crucial to Obama's 2008 victory — young voters, women and Hispanics.

There is, of course, a glaring flaw in this thinking. Conservatives are already fired up by nearly four years of rightwing BS from Fox News and talk radio. When 51% of Republican voters are birthers and believe that Obama's a Socialist, Communist, Muslim terrorist, and atheist at once, it's a pretty clear indication that they don't like the man very much. Conservatives have worked hard to keep the outrage meter pegged on the right, so anything Obama does comes without consequence on that front.


Meanwhile, this:

Latino Decisions:

A new poll released June 17, 2012 by Latino Decisions and America’s Voice finds that Latino registered voters are very enthusiastic about President Obama’s recent announcement and action on immigration policy that will halt deportations and provide temporary work permits to some young undocumented immigrants. This new finding stands in clear contrast to the low levels of enthusiasm among Latino voters towards the previous deportation policies under the Obama administration. The joint survey between Latino Decisions and America’s Voice polled Latino registered voters in five key battleground states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia, and is part of a larger survey on Latino battleground states to be released later in June.


When asked how they felt about Obama’s action that would halt deportations and provide work permits to undocumented immigrant youth who attend college or serve in the military 49% of Latino voters said it would make them more enthusiastic about Obama, compared to 14% who were less enthusiastic, a net enthusiasm advantage of +35 points. We should be clear that these two questions were not meant to gauge overall support levels for policy, but rather how policy statements on their own, could change a potential voters degree of enthusiasm for or against the President. Last week we released a poll that found 87% of Latinos and 62% of non-Latinos, supported the DREAM Act.

This is huge. And it's brilliant politics. What Obama has done here is take the Republican hostage-taking strategy and stand it on its head. The current policy is entirely dependent on who's in the White House and Mitt Romney, who during the primaries ran as the most insanely anti-immigrant candidate, doesn't inspire a lot of confidence among Latino voters. Instead of taking a hostage himself, Obama's said to Romney, "Here, hold this."

Now Romney finds he's holding Latino voters hostage -- to his political disadvantage. This was the man that said his plan was to make life suck so much for undocumented people that they'd "self-deport" -- i.e., flee the oppression of America. This is a man who called Arizona's draconian immigration law a "model" for the nation (he later "clarified" that statement when it became clear it was hurting him in Florida).

This is the man Obama's put in the position of trying to reassure Latinos that he's not as insane as he pretended to be in the primaries -- while reassuring the GOP base that he is.

Good luck with that.


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