Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hey, Immigration Reporters! Will "Blame Both Sides" Work?

Brian Beutler has a nice piece today arguing that Republicans are already turning towards blaming Barack Obama and the Democrats for the collapse of the immigration bill.

Here's my question: is there anyone out there listening?

Presumably, the target for this sort of thing is neutral Latino opinion leaders -- not a large group, but a non-zero one -- who are open to a "blame both sides" argument. Maybe even Republican Latino opinion leaders who are willing to accept a lot, but not everything.

It seems to me (and I'm working from memory here, but I think I'm correct) that in fact Republicans had some success during Obama's first term in blaming him for the lack of progress on immigration. Of course, the facts were a little different then; Obama and the Democrats weren't pushing a comprehensive bill, and Obama's administration was in fact disappointing to Hispanics on deportations and other border issues. Sure, Democrats had an argument (support for DREAM Act, and that Republicans were even worse and were blocking them from even trying for a major bill), but at any rate my strong impression is that Republican spin was at least somewhat successful.

So: Hey, reporters! I don't care what whether the arguments Republicans are going to make hold water or not; I want to know whether they'll work. What's up with those Latino opinion leaders who took a "blame both sides" view of immigration reform during Obama's first term? Are they open to the arguments that Obama wants to sabotage the bill in order to have the issue for 2014? Or are they going to shift from "blame both sides" to "blame House Republicans"?


  1. It's hard for me to imagine that Latino opinion leaders are going to take the "blame both sides" approach because 1) Republicans appear to have a difficult time interacting with those opinion leaders, 2) some Republican officials are engaging in race-based attacks/insinuations, 3) the Senate are passing a comprehensive reform law, 4) it doesn't look like the House is going to be able to cobble together their own comp reform bill.

    1. (1) and (2) applied in 2009-2012, too, and I suppose so did (4), in 2011-2012. The there's now going to be a Senate-passed bill could chane all that...but Republicans are going to be blaming Obama (not in the Senate), while Dems are going to be blaming the House. Question is whether neutrals who bought the (IMO implausible) argument then will buy the (perhaps even more implausible?) argument now.

    2. Maybe it's a question of the motivations of those neutral opinion leaders? If the motivation is to get something passed, then putting pressure on Obama and the Dems was a strategic move that would have less value now.

  2. I have heard a lot of people saying that this dooms Rubio's bid for the GOP presidential nomination. I am not so sure--the people attacking him from the Right may divide their votes up among several candidates. And remember that McCain was said to be doomed for similar reasons in 2007....

  3. A report I saw says the Senate gallery before the immigration bill vote was packed with DREAMers chanting Yes We Can.

    Seems to me that casts some doubt that Obama is going to be blamed for what the Republican House doesn't do.

  4. This isn't necessarily about immigration reform, but I've been really annoyed by all the coverage of that guy from RCP talking about how the GOP just needs to win more white people in order to win all the elections.

    When Obama isn't on the ballot, that might reduce African-American turn out, and the RCP guy showed that Dems might have maxed out the Latino vote (or something). But, if the Dems run a white person, what's to say that a contingent of the Perot voters (or Reagan Democrats, or Sam's Club Republicans, or whatever) won't be tempted to vote for the white Dem? Especially if the issues of the day are the minimum wage and economic inequality.

    Maybe that won't happen... but it seems just as likely (if not slightly more likely) that such a situation would occur as RCP guy's "missing white voter" theory. Especially because that theory seems to hinge on the GOP winning white people like me in the next 5-10 years... which would require a very, very different GOP.

    I theorize that RCP guy didn't include this potential outcome in his article because 1) it's okay to say that black people vote based on race, but according to conventional wisdom white people only ever vote based on logic and careful reasoning and 2) because it contradicts what he wants to happen (GOP victory forever).

    Am I missing something?

    1. Well, I am not qualified to argue with Sean Trende (that is who you mean, I think), but I think others that are (Ed Kilgore, for example), have pointed out that his analysis rests on assumptions that are open to argument. It should be pointed out that Trende does use a large amount of real data -- one cannot accuse him of being part of a post-data GOP. It is true, however, that he tends to interpret his data in a solidly GOP-friendly way. During the last election he was too sophisticated to fall for the skewed-polls argument, however his analysis of trends, sampling, etc. managed to get him to the same place pretty reliably. In general, Trende seems motivated by a fundamental hypothesis that the nature of the American electorate truly is center-right and thus advantage GOP. I would not say he is derping, if only because I don't have the knowledge of the data he displays. But, in the language of Josh Barro, his priors seem awfully strong.

    2. After reviewing what Kilgore had to say, I will point out a subtlety that I missed above. His position is that Trende, agree with him or not, does indeed use data and does, to be fair, hedge his discussions with appropriate warnings and caveats. Unfortunately, his less scrupulous compatriots on the right can easily seize on his final paragraphs, throw out the warnings, and turn them into pithy talking points about abandoning white voters.

    3. I'll stick up for Sean Trende. I think he does respectable work. I do think he's likely to see the GOP-favoring side of things...but nothing wrong with that. He's most definitely reality-based.

      During the unskewed thing, he basically made the reasonable case for why Romney had a chance. There was a reasonable case for Romney having a chance! And it was good to have someone making it.

      I don't always agree with him, but then again I don't always agree with Nate Silver.

    4. I'm the OP who brought up Sean Trende. I appreciate that he does data-driven work. For people who believe in racial equality, it's been a frustrating week. The VRA dismantling is a huge deal, the race-based attacks and policies coming from the Republican party are horrifying, and the Trayvon Martin case is infuriating. So it really feels like another brick in the racist wall for this guy comes up with a "reality-based" model showing GOP success by becoming a whites-only political movement.
      I guess I should try and separate the right-wing loons who extrapolate racist notions of a "True American" political coalition from Trende's analysis. He's not a policy guy, he's not arguing ideology. He's just serving as a counter-point to the "Establishment" CW that the GOP needs to broaden its appeal to minorities. They don't... as long as they can figure out a way to appeal to a wider array of white people across the economic spectrum. How they can do that without economic policies that appeal to low income voters? How can they do that when saddled to socially conservative policies that a substantial portion of suburban moms and others dislike? How can they do that while advocating Social Security and Medicare cuts/changes that elderly whites can't support? That's not the conversation Trende is trying to have.
      So here's my counter-argument to Trende: Romney got a large share of the white vote because the Dem candidate was black. As long as the Dems run a white person in the next election, the GOP's share of the white vote is going to fall back to GW Bush levels. Which means that, really and truly, the party is in serious trouble.

  5. If Romney could have won by carrying all the states where he lost by, say, one or two or even three points, I can see why there is a reasonable case for saying Romney had a chance. In the end, though, Romney could have won only by carrying every state he lost by 5.36 percent of the vote or less (or else by winning some state he lost by an even greater margin). If one cannot forecast an election like that, it's hard to see what kind of an election other than a landslide one can forecast.

    Pundits actually had a much better excuse for getting 1948 wrong: only very slight shifts in Illinois, Ohio, and California would have led to a Dewey victory.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?