Immigration hardliners argue that mass amnesty is suicide for the GOP, since immigrants lean so heavily Democrat. They are trying to argue to Republican party leaders that, even if they despise their voters, they should at least back off of amnesty in order to ensure their own survival as a major party.
This is a naive argument, which explains why it is never listened to by the GOP. Most immigrants, legal or illegal, are heavily concentrated in safe states -- mostly deep blue ones like California and New York, but also deep red ones like Texas and Utah. Millions more newly legalized citizens with voting rights in California will be no big loss to the GOP there, as the party effectively no longer exists in that state.
What about turning red states like Texas into blue ones? That also will not happen, because most of these immigrants are Hispanic, and Hispanics do not vote, even when they are eligible. This covers blue state cases as well -- they will not get even further blue, as their Hispanic immigrants will not vote either.
The most recent year of good voting data is for the 2012 presidential election, as studied by the General Social Survey, the gold standard in social research (large national probability samples going back to the 1970s). Let's review the cold hard facts on voting participation. We will stick just to people who are even eligible to vote, assuming the best-case scenario for immigrant advocates who want them to be able to vote.
Among immigrants -- those residing outside the US at age 16 -- only 46% voted, vs. 71% of native citizens.
Among Hispanics -- regardless of race or immigrant status -- only 44% voted, vs. 73% of non-Hispanics.
Within the Hispanic population, only 28% of immigrants voted, vs. 51% of native citizens.
Again, those are all considering people who are already eligible to vote.
The voting rates for all groups are lower in the West South Central region, which is basically Greater Texas. So the largest red state is in no danger of being flipped blue by low-voting Hispanics, immigrants, or Hispanic immigrants.
The only large state that could be affected is the swing state of Florida -- but then Florida has always been a swing state, back when it was mostly white, and right up through 2016 with its heavy Hispanic and immigrant population. So the GOP may reason that it has little to lose there if there are more immigrants.
An earlier post showed that large non-citizen populations do not affect how a state votes, but rather how much of a force multiplier it has. The number of Congressmen sent to the House is determined by resident population, not citizen population, so that states with lots of immigrants get more Representatives in Congress than they should. That is reflected in their weight within the Electoral College when it comes time to choosing a President as well.
But the GOP has already given up trying to be a national party that can field viable candidates for President. They lucked into the presidency in 2000 when the full Florida recount showed that Gore won among voters. They could have legitimately won in 2004, although who can say how much of that was due to the incumbency effect that resulted from the botched election of 2000. But maybe W. Bush could have been the Republican Jimmy Carter and won by a hair, serving only one despised term during an otherwise unbroken string of victories for the other party.
Of course Trump did better than W. Bush could have ever dreamed of, but he ran against the GOP, and the GOP did everything it could to stop him, and continues to subvert him well after he's taken office in the White House. So they still have no pretensions of being a national party to contest the presidency.
And although making Congressional representation reflect citizens only, rather than any old residents, could give Republicans better numbers in Congress, it also might not. The main shift would be fewer reps from the Sun Belt, with its enormous immigrant populations, and more reps back to the Rust Belt, where hardly any residents are immigrants.
In some Rust Belt areas like Ohio and Indiana, that would give more Republicans to Congress. But it would also mean more reps from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York. Maybe those new districts would go to Trump-style Republicans -- but that's a nightmare for the GOP leadership. Otherwise they would go to Democrats. Almost certainly not would they become new corporate-friendly warmonger Republicans that the leadership desires.
So the GOP can rationally argue there is little downside to its electoral prospects from giving amnesty to all illegals and even throwing the borders wide open. At least up until the point where immigrants do begin to overwhelm the safe red states in voting numbers (different from resident numbers, since immigrants don't vote).
What about the upside? Well, the GOP is all about cutting labor costs to employers to boost corporate profits. They represent various specific sectors like the Pentagon and energy and agriculture, but they also represent a sector-general class of managers and investors. This managerial and investing class will continue to make a killing pursuing the off-shoring policies it has been getting for several decades now. Instead of off-shoring, it can also bring the cheap foreign labor here through immigration.
In addition to making managers and investors in general happy, the GOP program of open borders and free trade will also make one of its major elite factions happy -- agriculture. These mega-farms are highly profitable not only because of heavy subsidies from the government, but also because they hire cheap foreigners to toil in the corn fields, dairy pastures, and meatpacking plants.
The free trade agreements have all served to remove manufacturing from the US and give it to the other cheap countries, while improving agricultural exports from the US and wiping out the farms of the newly industrialized cheap countries. "Trade" is not general, it is specifically taking the form of American food traded for manufactured products from the cheap countries (clothing, cars, electronics, etc.). That's why Trump always used to complain that while Asia sends us cars by the shipload, "all we send them is beef".
From the GOP's perspective, car companies and auto workers unions do not contribute to the Republican coffers or political capital within Washington, while the mega-farms of agribusiness do, so why would Republican leaders try to make Detroit happy instead of Omaha? Especially when these large-scale farms and ranches all lie within the Great Plains, where the reddest of red states are found, while manufacturing plants are in purple states at best, and deep blue states at worst.
The Republican party's grand vision is to reverse the Industrial Revolution and have a nation's residents toiling in the fields, or performing menial servant labor waiting on people with money. They want us to go back to the feudal ages, where the GOP will enjoy the support of the landed aristocracy.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense that they would want to import hordes of field-toilers and servant-peasants from parts of the world that never launched their own Industrial Revolution. Especially when there is no electoral downside. Any self-preservation argument to the GOP leadership is doomed to failure, because they know better than you do what is good for their own preservation. They will only chuckle at your naivete.
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On the other hand, large-scale immigration is a disaster to the Democrat party, whether they know it or not.
Sure, you could say as I just did about the GOP, "They would know better than you what is in their own interests as a party," but then the Democrats just got wiped out in a historic upset, losing many states that were solid blue for decades -- Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, a district in Maine, and essentially Minnesota (spoiled only by a third-party conservative).
So far, zero states have flipped from red to blue due to demographic replacement by immigrants. Rather, it has been white liberal yuppie carpetbaggers who have recently flipped red states blue. They are a far larger population size, they are all eligible to vote, and they turn out at high rates.
But now we've seen six medium-sized states defect en masse from the blue column, showing that it is the Democrats who are truly out of touch with what preserves their party. Not immigrants, but the (white) working class in the Industrial Midwest, who have much higher labor union membership rates than others around the country. Like yuppies, union members are already eligible to vote, are organized politically, and turn out at high rates. If you lose enough union rank-and-file support, kiss the Midwest goodbye.
There are about 15 million union members today, equal to estimates of the illegal immigrant population. Which group is more important to keep, if their interests are opposed and will not come as a combined bloc?
Back to the GSS statistics: for eligible voters, 81% voted among people who are union members or are married to one, vs. 67% among non-union households. And they are not clustered in deep blue or deep red states. Compared to non-union voters, union-linked voters were more likely to come from blue safe-havens like the Mid-Atlantic and Pacific regions, but also from the East North Central region (OH, MI, IN, IL, WI), and presumably the Great Lakes by extension.
Only Illinois is a deep blue state, and Indiana a deep red state. Ohio is usually a swing state, and although Michigan and Wisconsin voted reliably blue, it was not by a large margin -- enough for Trump to steal them away by appealing to Rust Belt working class whites.
As an inverse of the GOP, the Democrat party does not rely on the generalized corporate managerial and investing class, although it does have the backing of specific factions like Wall Street and Silicon Valley. It also relies on labor unions, and enough of them are still industrial unions rather than public sector service unions -- at least in the key Rust Belt states, rather than safe states like California.
Once those manufacturing plants are destroyed through off-shoring, the new workers in the cheap countries will not be joining unions, let alone voting in American elections for the pro-union party. So there goes millions of reliable Democrat voters. Even if the plants are kept in America, but operated by cheap foreign labor, the immigrant workers will not be unionized, and again -- bye-bye millions of reliable Democrat voters, in crucial states no less.
It is out of self-preservation that the Democrats have opposed the free trade deals for decades. Enough of them are neoliberals who vote with the majority of Republicans to push them through, and only neoliberals are allowed to become Democrat Presidents. But the majority of Congressional Democrats in both houses have opposed them, from NAFTA to permanent normal trade relations with China to CAFTA to South Korea to Trade Promotion Authority for negotiating the TPP.
Yep, the Republicans are so rotten that they make us find a few good things about the voting records of some of the most horrendous Democrats ever to serve -- Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, Harry Reid, Sherrod Brown, even Bob Menendez, voted against most or all of these anti-factory / pro-mega-farm deals.
It's not that the Democrats look after their constituents better than the GOP does. It's that the Democrats' constituents include large numbers of organized labor in high-paying sectors like manufacturing, whereas the GOP looks after the landed aristocracy in the Plains. The only sector with a large number of employees who vote reliably Republican, and whom the GOP looks after, is the military.
But that just means the GOP tries to inflate military bubbles so that more and more members of the military have "something to do somewhere around the world," rather than use them effectively for specific purposes when our national interests are clearly defined and large in magnitude. Most of that labor is not put toward truly productive use, and those guys could be creating far more value as engineers for an auto company, logistics experts for steel mills, and quality-control for tool production.
That is a large chunk of potential Democrat industry-related voters that could be stolen from the GOP if only the Democrats would more forcefully promote the re-industrialization of the economy, and demand an America-first defense policy to replace our failed and crumbling globalist empire.
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It turns out that the Democrats have more to lose in the short and medium term from amnestying the millions of illegals, opening the borders, and off-shoring our manufacturing. That's why the GOP has always been the main vehicle for the cheap labor lobby. If the Democrats don't reverse course on immigration, they will lose the Rust Belt forever.
They are pursuing amnesty and open borders out of identity politics and multiculturalism, which is a crazy parasitic growth destroying their party. They are not doing it out of rational electoral calculations, let alone being part of the cheap labor lobby -- or else they would have signed onto all of those free trade deals.
On the one hand, it makes it more likely to get through to them since there is a rational basis for them to give up amnesty, vs. little rational basis for Republican leaders to give it up. On the other hand, if the party is emotionally hijacked by identity politics warriors, they may not be able to respond rationally. It's all still up in the air at this point, although the number of progressives coming out with "yeah but" arguments about immigration (Thomas Frank, Peter Beinart) is a welcome sign.
The Trump movement has already burned down the Republican party, which refused to serve the people. Now that Trump is beginning to cut deals with "Chuck and Nancy" rather than Ryan and McConnell, maybe the next phase of the movement will be rehabilitating the Democrat party. "Factories over foreigners" and "Medicare for all except those who must go back" -- that's how they win back the Midwest.
GSS variables: vote12, race, hispanic, reg16, region, union