The Corner

The Politics of It

Jonah makes the point, with which I agree, that it would be nice if Republican politicians could get more Hispanic votes. It would be nice if they could get more votes, period. Let me ask several questions about the impact of amnesty here. 1) How popular will it be among Hispanics? Some polling has suggested that Hispanics are slightly more likely to oppose than support amnesty, and significantly more likely to vote against a pro-amnesty candidate than vote for one. 2) Assuming it does prove popular, how large and lasting an effect would it have? 3) How many more Hispanic voters will it bring in? Assuming that the amnesty does not lead to a long-term Republican majority among Hispanics, the more it brings in the worse it will be for them. Assume, heroically, that the Hispanic voters of 2016 will vote 45 percent Republican rather than 35 percent because of amnesty. Assume also–and I have no idea whether these are stingy or generous assumptions–that amnesty means the total number of these voters is 20 million rather than 12 million. That means that instead of losing a population of 12 million by a net 30 percent (=3.6 million votes), you will lose a population of 20 million by a net 10 percent (=2 million votes). That is a gain, but the outcome is clearly highly assumption-dependent. (Also, keep in mind an alternative of reducing immigration levels.) 4) Will the increased numbers of Hispanics drive their wages down, and will that reduce their propensity to vote Republican? 5) Just how unpopular is this among non-Hispanic voters? They count, too.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.