Earlier this week, Republican Rep. Iliana Ros-Lehtinen told The Hill that she worries about the GOP's chances of winning the White House in 2016 because the party hasn't backed a mass amnesty for illegal aliens. But a brand new poll from Pew Hispanic Research on the voting tendencies of Hispanic Americans reveals something very different.
Unless we pass laws that fix our immigration system. It's clearly broken. Help people get right with the law, and help them create jobs and grow the economy, we will probably continue to control the House and the Senate. We'll probably take over the Senate in a little while. But will we ever get the chance to control the White House? I don't think we'll ever be able to unless we reach out to Hispanics, Asian-Americans, women and young people. Those groups are a problem for the Republican party.
According to the Pew Hispanic poll, the Democratic Party still holds a strong, but slightly shrinking, advantage over Republicans among Hispanic voters, but a majority say that a candidate's position on immigration is not a deal-breaker if the candidate shares similar views on other issues.
Would you vote for a candidate who DISAGREES with you about immigration policy, if they AGREE with you on most other issues?
54% -- Yes, they would support the candidate
36% -- No, they would not support the candidate
10% -- Depends or Not Sure
Contrary to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's statement, and the mindset of the GOP establishment, only 1 in 3 Hispanics say they base their voting decisions solely on immigration. Furthermore, less than half (46%) of Hispanic registered voters think granting amnesty should be the top priority for Congress when addressing immigration.
IMMIGRATION IN THE MID-TERM ELECTIONS
Even though the Pew poll came out just today, polling in the key mid-term election races appears to be consistent with the Pew results. In 8 of the 10 hotly contested Senate races across the country, there is a clear contrast between the positions of the opposing candidates on immigration. And in most instances, the anti-amnesty, pro-American workers candidate is leading in the polls as we head down the final stretch. In fact, just today, the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a new ad in Georgia claiming that a vote for Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn means amnesty for illegal aliens. The NRSC has run a similar ad in Kentucky.
According to the polling averages from RealClearPolitics.com, the anti-amnesty candidate leads in Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
In New Hampshire, GOP challenger Scott Brown is within the margin of error, but lags behind incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. Brown has been hammering Shaheen on immigration since mid-summer, forcing her to side with Republicans in a Senate vote against Pres. Obama's executive amnesties last month. But last year, she voted in favor of the Gang of Eight's amnesty bill every time.
Brown was down by double-digits before injecting the immigration into the race, and he told Laura Ingraham during her radio program last week that the immigration issue is one of the top concerns he hears from voters on the campaign trail.
In Kansas, Independent challenger Greg Orman has expressed support for the Gang of Eight's amnesty bill, while GOP incumbent Pat Roberts has maintained his anti-amnesty position and boasted about his vote against the bill. Roberts trails in the polls, but like New Hampshire, the margin is well within the margin of error. Also, the race has been more about Kansas' voters dissatisfaction with Roberts' overall than his position on immigration.
If anything, the immigration issue has kept Roberts competitive in the race. After Orman had built a double-digit lead in some polls over Roberts, the gap has narrowed as Kansas voters learn more about Orman's pro-amnesty position. And since Orman reiterated his amnesty position in a mid-October debate, the candidates have been neck-and-neck.
In only two of the 10 competitive states are GOP candidates taking pro-amnesty positions, although in both cases, they've condemned Pres. Obama's anticipated executive amnesty -- North Carolina and Colorado. Not a coincidence, both states have large Hispanic populations; in fact, Colorado has the nation's 7th highest proportion of Hispanics, making up 21% of the state's population. GOP challenger Cory Gardner has opened up a comfortable lead over incumbent Mark Udall, but immigration has been barely mentioned throughout the campaign. Still, Garnder has been cognizant of the voters' disdain for amnesty and increased legal immigration, dodging a question during a recent GOP gathering.
In North Carolina, GOP challenger Thom Tillis has been less inclined than Gardner to discuss his pro-amnesty leanings, but incumbent Kay Hagan has done everything she can to position herself as anti-amnesty despite her support for the Gang of Eight bill. Like Shaheen, she joined Republican Senators in a vote against Pres. Obama's executive amnesties last month.
Should Tillis and/or Garnder lose, one would wonder if the results would have been different had they sounded more like Sen. Jeff Sessions and less like Rep. Paul Ryan given the results of the new Pew poll.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, Nov 13th 2014 @ 7:40am EST