Political implications of large-scale immigration

via Soldier for Liberty
2/21/2010

From The Center for Immigration Studies
Immigration, Political Realignment, and the Demise of Republican Political Prospects
By James G. Gimpel
February 2010

This Backgrounder examines the political implications of large-scale immigration. Between 1980 and 2008, 25.2 million people were granted permanent residency (green cards) by the United States. A comparison of voting patterns in presidential elections across counties over the last three decades shows that large-scale immigration has caused a steady drop in presidential Republican vote shares throughout the country. Once politically marginal counties are now safely Democratic due to the propensity of immigrants, especially Latinos, to identify and vote Democratic. The partisan impact of immigration is relatively uniform throughout the country, even though local Republican parties have taken different positions on illegal immigration. Although high immigration may work against Democratic policy goals, such as raising wages for the poor and protecting the environment, it does improve Democratic electoral prospects. In contrast, immigration may help Republican business interests hold down wages, but it also undermines the party’s political fortunes. Future levels of immigration are likely to be a key determinant of Republicans’ political prospects moving forward.

The electoral impact of immigration has been greatest in counties with large populations, where most immigrants settle. In these locations, Republicans have lost 0.58 percentage points in presidential elections for every one percentage-point increase in the size of the local immigrant population. On average the immigrant share has increased 9.5 percent in these counties.

In counties of at least 50,000, where the immigrant share increased by at least two percentage points from 1980 to 2008, 62 percent saw a decline in the Republican percentage. In counties with at least a four percentage-point increase, 74 percent saw a decline in the GOP vote. In counties with at least a six percentage-point gain in the immigrant share, 83 percent saw a decline in the GOP vote share.

The article, with graphics, continues at Soldier for Liberty.

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