Will Opposition to ‘Amnesty’ Let the GOP Take the Senate?

At National Review Online, Ryan Lovelace makes the argument that opposition to immigration reform could be the issue that allows the GOP to retake the Senate. As evidence, he points to several GOP campaigns, including Scott Brown in New Hampshire and Tom Cotton in Arkansas, both of whom have made opposition to amnesty part of their general election campaigns.

Support for immigration reform has been cited as a key factor in the defeat of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by David Brat in Virginia’s GOP primary election. It’s something that’s been used here in Georgia as well:

Cantor wasn’t the only Republican sunk by his stance on immigration. Georgia congressman Jack Kingston also lost his primary runoff to businessman and political neophyte David Perdue in the race to replace retiring Republican senator Saxby Chambliss in Georgia after Perdue honed in on the issue of illegal immigration. Perdue labeled Kingston “pro-amnesty” and highlighted the pro-amnesty positions of Kingston’s financial supporters in an ad in July.

Perdue has continued to focus on immigration in his general-election race against Democrat Michelle Nunn. The Perdue campaign says the immigration issue has national-security and economic components, which is why Perdue has continued to talk about it. “I think that’s something that’s always on the top of minds of voters, but it’s become more apparent because of the news of the day and things that are happening around the world,” a Perdue spokeswoman says. “People see what’s happening around the world and the potential threats that could happen anytime here at home and really understand that that’s why we need to secure our borders.”

Opposition to any type of immigration reform is a major motivator for much of the GOP base. If anything, concerns over minors entering the country illegally over the summer, and threats by President Obama to take executive action to legalize many of the undocumented has kept the issue front and center throughout the campaign season.

Continued strong resistance to changing immigration law isn’t part of the playbook imagined by the Republican National Committee when they released their report and recommendations following Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012. That report recommended taking action on immigration reform in order to gain the support of Hispanics and millennials.

It remains to be seen whether Perdue and the other Republican Senate candidates will double down on the Amnesty card in their efforts to gain a Senate majority in November. The larger question, though, is whether the short term gain of Senate control during the final two years of the Obama presidency is worth the potential long term pain of being a party abandoned by minorities and young people.


  1. jh says:

    Another question to ask would be, given Perdue’s huge outside money advantage, why are his numbers slipping and Nunn’s rising? The Obama, amnesty, terrorist ads are backfiring.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        Amnesty/outsourcing “What difference does it make”
        Can’t you just see the political ads with this one.
        After listening to both Perdue and Nunn at the debate my only reason for voting is

        Do you want Harry Reid in charge of the Senate?

  2. Jon Lester says:

    I know some people are quick to name immigration/”amnesty” as their pet issue, but how many of those are there, really? There were other reasons why Cantor and Kingston lost, and a lot’s happened since then.

  3. seekingtounderstand says:

    If its true that nearly 3 million jobs have been generated by the economy since President Obama took office and US citizens got only 1.2 million of those jobs then this should be a major topic.
    Its hard for working America to see the difference of outsourcing jobs vs. jobs lost to cheaper labor workers. Both mean less jobs for those that need work.

      • John Konop says:

        I think when you use words like culture war and Amnesty….many think about the KKK not the issue…I first heard about the call from your body Phil Kent, from a white executive who has an Asian wife and kids…..He got your point….not your vote…

        • Bobloblaw says:

          “”many think about the KKK not the issue””

          You think only the KKK opposes Amnesty? Were Barbara Jordan and Caesar Chavez members of the KKK??

          If your only argument in favor of Amnesty is those who oppose it are KKK, then you lost the argument.

          • John Konop says:


            I have spoken out about immigration laws and many times pointed out on this blog about Ralph Abernathy Jr, Mondale, Chavez…..all being for legal immigration….like trade it was about wages not a culture war…The problem is the GOP messages shifts from wages…to it becoming Phil Kent type message which sounds like the Klan not MLK…..

  4. David C says:

    Headlines from the Future: “Will Opposition to ‘Amnesty’ Let the GOP Lose the Presidency Again, and Also the Senate, Again?”

      • benevolus says:

        “Comprehensive immigration reform enjoys broad bipartisan support, but is particularly intense among Hispanic voters, who are most likely to weigh the issue heavily as they assess candidates, according to a new POLITICO poll of voters in places with the most competitive House and Senate races.”

        “Seventy-one percent of likely voters surveyed — and nine of 10 Hispanics — said they back sweeping change to immigration laws. The support spans party lines: 64 percent of Republican respondents back comprehensive immigration reform, as do 78 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents.

        Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/poll-immigration-reform-gop-voters-2014-106801.html#ixzz3GF0lfdOK

        • David C says:

          The Hispanic vote keeps getting smaller and smaller for Republicans (From 40% in ’04 to 31% in ’08 to 27% in ’12) and the Hispanic share of the electorate keeps getting larger and larger (from 8% in ’04 to 9% in ’08 to 10% in ’12) and is concentrated in some key swing states. Good luck winning the electoral college without Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada.

  5. xdog says:

    “whether the short term gain of Senate control . . . is worth the potential long term pain of being a party abandoned by minorities and young people.”

    Gopers made that decision a long time ago.

    • Bobloblaw says:

      Young people dont support amnesty. If Amnesty is so popular why no outcry that it hasnt been passed?

      • Jon Richards says:

        Bob hasn’t talked to the same young people I have, apparently. And, part of the problem is defining what Amnesty is, exactly.

        Example: would letting DREAMers attend UGA be amnesty? After this happened, the students I talked to were supporting of the Undocumented Students Alliance, and were upset that any discussion of the issue always devolved into flamethrowing over amnesty.

        • benevolus says:

          Yes that is amnesty. And until we have a bubble built over the country, with one or maybe two entry points, and a gatekeeper like maybe Joe Arpaio, some people will be afraid.

  6. WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

    Running against amnesty or actually being for something besides regurgitating banal platitudes couldn’t hurt. Obviously running against a lame duck President isn’t working. Especially when given in the arrogant dismissal of Nunn to her face on stage in Perry with; “Make no mistake. I’m running against Barack Obama and Harry Reid.”

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