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Christie's success with Hispanic voters had little to do with immigration | NumbersUSA - For Lower Immigration Levels

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Christie's success with Hispanic voters had little to do with immigration

 

It didn't take long for some in the mainstream media to attribute the results of Tuesday's two gubernatorial elections to the immigration positions, and the support or lack thereof from Hispanics, of the Republican candidates. Shortly after both the races in New Jersey and Virginia were called, New York Times reporter Julia Preston posted a story with a headline and lead:

Lessons on Immigration in Two Governors' Races

Republicans in Congress studying the results from the governors' elections in New Jersey and Virginia on Tuesday see two starkly different test cases for how the party should move on immigration.

With Chris Christie receiving support from 50% of Hispanics in New Jersey compared to Ken Cuccinelli's 29% support from Hispanics in Virginia, it was almost too easy for anyone who supports amnesty and massive increases in legal immigration to immediately point out that Christie's recent embrace of in-state tuition for illegal aliens and Cuccinelli's hard-line stance on immigration enforcement resulted in the fate of their two candidacies on Tuesday. But that would ignore a whole lot of facts about the two races.

EARLY ROOTS - Gov. Chrisite expressed support for in-state tuition for illegal aliens in October, but his success with Hispanics started well before his flip-flop on the issue. A report from FoxNews Latino in August showed Christie with 41% of the Hispanic vote. On Tuesday, he received 50% of the Hispanic vote. The point is, Christie was already receiving strong support from Hispanics well-before he flipped on in-state tuition.

Furthermore, Hispanic leaders in New Jersey attributed Christie's success within the Hispanic community to his positions on Obamacare, taxes, and school vouchers. Christie made an early effort to reach out to Hispanics by forming "Hispanics for Christie" and spending time in their communities well before the elections.

OBAMACARE - Two weeks out, a Washington Post poll showed an 11-point advantage for Terry McAuliffe over Cuccinelli. But Cuccinelli was able to close the gap in the final weeks (McAuliffe won by 3 points) by taking advantage of the negative news surrounding the rollout of Obamacare.

In New Jersey, Obamacare was never really an issue, and Gov. Christie is one of the few Republican governors to accept additional Medicaid funding from Obamacare.

This is significant because polls indicate that Hispanics support Obamacare by a 2-to-1 margin compared to the nation as a whole. Christie's lack of outspoken hostility towards the law helped him make early gains with the Hispanic community, while Cuccinelli was one of the primary challengers to the legislation, taking his challenge to federal court.

MONEY - Campaign spending has one of the largest impacts on the success of any candidate running in a statewide contest, especially in New Jersey and Virginia where the states' population centers are located in top-10 media markets (New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.) where advertising doesn't come cheap. According to NJ.com, Gov. Christie outspent his challenger, Barbara Buono, more than 10-to-1 -- $13.2 million compared to $2.7 million.

Likewise, in Virginia, McAuliffe outspent Cuccinelli by $14 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. And other sources reported that the Cuccunelli campaign was broke two weeks before the election and was abandoned by the national party despite making up ground in the polls.

THIRD-PARTY CANDIDATE - It's not clear how much Cuccinelli's candidacy was hurt by the presence of Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis in Virginia, but it's worth considering. Sarvis picked up 6.6% of the vote, taking nearly 146,000 votes away from McAuliffe and Cuccinelli. Since the two candidates were separated by 56,000 votes, Cuccinelli would have had to win 70% of Sarvis' votes to beat McAuliffe, but given the two candidates similar positions on the state budget and taxes, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibilities. According to exit polling, Sarvis received more votes from Republicans than Democrats with his largest portion of support coming from Independents. Cuccinelli beat McAuliffe with Independents by 9 points.

There was no significant third-party candidate in New Jersey.

In both states, one of every two voters said jobs/economy was the top issue - the top concern in each state; immigration wasn't even on the radar. But it reinforces the fact that if candidates make the connection between the lack of jobs to the 33 million new job seekers that would be added in the first 10 years from a comprehensive amnesty bill, they would probably do well in all voter subgroups.

Most of the post-election analysis from Tuesday doesn't attribute Christie's win and Cuccinelli's loss to their immigration positions, including an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by GOP amnesty supporter Karl Rove. Rove didn't mention immigration in his dissection of the Cuccinelli loss, but as the 2014 midterm elections draw nearer, I'm sure pro-amnesty supporters will point to Christie's success with Hispanics as an example of why the GOP should embrace amnesty.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: NumbersUSA is non-partisan and does not endorse political candidates.)

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA

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