Some good news about immigration (and humanity)

Some good news about immigration (and humanity)

by digby

This piece by a couple of political scientists in the New York Times should make everyone feel just a little bit better about the trajectory of our country:

But is it true that immigration is always a losing issue for Democrats? There is a consensus among scholars and commentators that an individual’s view on immigration had a bigger impact on how he or she voted in 2016, compared with recent elections. Given that white Americans tend to be substantially more anti-immigration than pro-immigration, one might expect that highlighting a hard-line stand on the issue would have benefited Mr. Trump in the election.

Contrary to received wisdom, however, the immigration issue did not play to Mr. Trump’s advantage nearly as much as commonly believed. According to our analysis of national survey data from the American National Election Studies (a large, representative sample of the population of the United States), Hillary Clinton did better in the election than she would have if immigration had not been so prominent an issue. In fact, a liberal backlash seems to have contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s victory in the popular vote count.

To determine how immigration shaped electoral fortunes, we examined the link between voters’ views on immigration and whether they voted Democratic or Republican in 2016. We then compared the strength of that link with recent elections in which immigration was less visible as a national campaign issue. We estimated whether voters supported the Democratic or Republican candidate on the basis of their preferred level of immigration — “increase,” “keep the same,” “decrease” — taking into account the voter’s party identification, ideology, gender, age and level of education.

We found that Mr. Trump did only slightly better than his Republican predecessors among anti-immigration whites. Among pro-immigration whites, however, Mrs. Clinton far outpaced John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. For example, Mr. Obama received the votes of 50 percent of pro-immigration whites in 2012, whereas Mrs. Clinton won the votes of 72 percent of that group in 2016 — a 22-point difference.

Among anti-immigration whites, by contrast, Mr. Trump improved only marginally on Mitt Romney’s showing, 79 percent to 71 percent. Perhaps most important — given the popularity of the “keep the same” position — is that immigration moderates swung 7 percentage points in Mrs. Clinton’s favor (Mr. Obama received 38 percent to Mrs. Clinton’s 45). The 2016 comparisons with 2008 and 2004 are highly similar.

We can’t know whether this asymmetry across elections is a function of Mr. Trump’s nativism, Mrs. Clinton’s inclusive pronouncements about immigration or both. What we can say is that after Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton repeatedly clashed over the issue during the course of the campaign, Mr. Trump’s electoral gain — relative to the percentages Mr. Romney, John McCain and George W. Bush received on the issue — paled against Mrs. Clinton’s gains over Mr. Kerry and Mr. Obama.

Democrats just need to tell the truth as they see it. It's really all they have. And the truth is that America is an immigrant country and most Americans are happy and proud of that.