Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Immigration Politics: The White House Task Force on New Americans

In Immigration on December 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Fox News ran a story over the weekend quoting “Republican strategists” as saying that the new White House Task Force on New Americans is targeting specific numbers of legal non-citizen immigrants in 10 states with the underlying purpose of increasing Democratic voter registration. They complain the Task Force is fast-tracking people in this category for citizenship to make them eligible to participate in the 2016 presidential election in order to increase the Democratic Party advantage.

The Task Force’s stated goal is to help “welcome” the new immigrants and more seamlessly assimilate them into American society. The administration is emphasizing national economic benefits as the reason for making it easier to qualify the legal immigrants for citizenship. They argue that the immigrant population represents 13 percent of the national population, slightly larger than the African American share, but comprises 16 percent of the workforce, and is responsible for creating 28 percent of all new businesses. About half of those in the legal immigrant category are Hispanic, with Asians being the second largest group.

Though voting privileges will be part of attaining citizenship, the 10 states chosen – because 75 percent of the legal immigrants reside in these places – are almost exclusively not swing political states. It is clear that seven of the 10, and maybe as many as nine, are established Electoral Vote havens for one party or the other.

The 10 states are:
1. Arizona
2. California
3. Florida
4. Illinois
5. Massachusetts
6. New Jersey
7. New York
8. Texas
9. Virginia
10. Washington

Already, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington are solidly in the Democratic camp for national elections. Therefore, implementing this citizen fast-track policy in these particular states will largely prove irrelevant toward increasing Democratic support within the Electoral College.

Texas is solidly Republican, and it has long been a Democratic Party goal to educate, motivate, and activate young Hispanics toward registering and voting in the Lone Star State. Yet, the huge Hispanic population, for the most part, continues to lie politically dormant featuring low voter participation.

The one pure swing state within this group of 10 is Florida, where a program to reel in more immigrant voters could very well help the Democrats. The state votes in such close proportion that any activated group of thousands could sway the state’s critically important 29 electoral votes.

Two states that have swing reputations, Arizona and Virginia, generally come down in one camp or the other. For decades, Arizona has been a Republican state in national elections, but the margin is tightening to the point where it could gain a swing designation in 2016. Yet, it cannot be considered such today. Though elections are still close in Virginia, current trends suggest this state is on its way to becoming reliably Democratic.

If there is a hidden Task Force political objective to better secure Democratic victories in the national election, then the state selection process leaves something to be desired.

A more compelling list, from purely a political context, which would include a greater number of swing states, might look like the grouping below:
1. Arizona
2. Colorado
3. Florida
4. Georgia
5. Iowa
6. Michigan
7. Nevada
8. North Carolina
9. Ohio
10. Pennsylvania

With the original subset of states containing mostly defined political entities even when overlaying the 2016 US Senate political picture, at least for the time being, the accusation that the administration is using the Task Force on New Americans to increase Democratic Party strength appears to be a hollow one.

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