Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Republicans are Better than Democrats on Immigration After All

It is often said that the Republican Party is far too riddled with PC multicultural RINOs to put up a decent stand against the elites who support mass immigration.  I have no problem with right-wing doomsayers; John Derbyshire, for instance, is a great writer and speaker.  On the other hand, by temperament I tend to be quite skeptical with pessimism, mainly on the grounds that the sky has yet to fall despite the predictions of so many of the Cassandras of the past.  Furthermore, I believe too many people are copying-and-pasting the views of elitist neocons like McCain and Bush down onto the rest of the party.  Republicans can certainly be accused of excessively loyalty to the men who betrayed them, but that doesn't mean they necessarily vote like the RINOs.

So I decided to get to the bottom of the matter with a little number crunching.  Using the trusty Numbers USA site, I decided to convert the US report card-style grades into numbers, and calculate party-wide averages.  (For this post I am using arithmetic means; I may add an update using medians later.)  The grades run from A+ to F- with no F+; I assigned A+ a score of 13, F- a 0.  The data I use apply to this Congress and the last (2007-2010).  

Some caveats:  First, no one is obligated to trust that Numbers USA rates the candidates accurately or even picks the right issues.  I personally do trust them; VDare may be more ideologically exciting but Numbers has the numbers.  Second, only legislative candidates are included (executives aren't usually rated likes this).  Third, the past is only a loose guide to the future.

Just to make it exciting, when I was at M4 Monologue I decided to phrase my moderately warm feelings toward the post-Bush GOP as a testable hypothesis.

Null hypothesis: Like the gloomiest hard rightists say, the Republicans’ voting records on immigration are about as bad as the Democrats, defined as being within one letter grade. (I.e., if the Democrats average a C-, the Republicans won’t beat a B-.)  This translates to 3 points, using the scale I created.
Alternate hypothesis: The gloomiest hard rightists may be right about other things, but Republicans of the current Congress are significantly better on immigration than the Democrats – more than a whole letter, or dropping fractions, at least 4 points.
Here is what I found - first, some tidbits:

A total of two Democrat received grades above B+; none received an A+.
One hundred and six Republicans scored in this range; 37 got A+s.

One hundred and sixty Donkeys got scores below D-; the corresponding Elephant herd numbered five (3 of whom are from Florida).  

Democrats average 2.86 points on a 13-point scale - between a D and a D-.  
Republicans average 7.60 points - between a B- and a C+.  (To put this in perspective, John McCain, widely excoriated on the right for being a softie on immigration, got a C-.  He is not near the middle of either party on this matter, but he is near the middle of the Congress as a whole.)

The alternate hypothesis is sustained - the Republicans of 2007-2010 are significantly better than the Democrats on immigration.

Based on this, I believe the doomsayers have a little retracting, or a least a little explaining, to do.  They are not necessarily wrong; who am I to say that the new Republicans will be as restrictionist as their predecessors?  Or even to say that a B will be enough to stop the tide, or that Obama won't outmaneuver the GOP with some elitist media trick?  

I do regard these numbers as a hopeful sign, because I highly doubt that the Republicans are becoming more in favor of mass immigration, with their voters hopping mad and unemployment showing no signs of alleviating.  A few RINOs notwithstanding (notably recently defeated Meg Whitman of California), the Republicans as a group are far different than the Karl Rove-style suckers' gamers of the bad old days.

Recent Addendum:

In answer to Steve Sailer's question, ALIPAC has a complete list of wins and losses for its endorsed candidates.  It endorsed candidates in a little under half the races, with 137 wins, 66 losses, and 2 races still up in the air.

Two to one victories aren't bad, but in more than half the races, ALIPAC thought no one was worth endorsing.


1. Because of a spreadsheet error, the above numbers for Republicans had to be corrected, sustaining the alternate hypothesis a little less comfortably.  (My original numbers had them at a B+.)

2. Medians make the difference look a little bigger.  The median Democrat was just below a D-; the median Republican was just below an A-.

3. I'm not finding sub-issues all that interesting as a way of comparing the parties, since many seem to cover very few votes or maybe only one.  In one respect they are interesting:  They show the uniqueness of Texas Rep. Ron Paul; he got A+s on "Reduce Amnesty Enticements" and "Reduce Illegal Immigration Rewards", a D on "Reduce Illegal Immigration at the Border", and a D+ on "Reduce Illegal Jobs and Presence".  This goes to show that a libertarian is going to vote differently from a cultural conservative; that will only come out when you look at the sub-issues (on the whole, Paul is a moderate on immigration, because opposing immigration is a combination of limiting government enticements and erecting government barriers).  I respect Rep. Paul, but as immigration grows more salient, I cheer for less and less for his philosophy.

Compare this to Sen. Olympia Snowe, who is rated similarly overall but whose votes on the sub-issues are almost Paul's opposite.  Her votes reflect a strong anti-illegal / pro-legal stance similar to McCain's, which seek to stop immigration at the border and in the workplace, while continuing to reward and facilitate it with visas, amnesties, chain migration, etc.


Jehu said...

If the Republicans run someone in 2012 that is strong on immigration, illegal and otherwise, I'll vote for him (and I'm pretty sure it'd be a him). If they don't, they won't get my vote or my support. I've got a very simple rubric for determining allies from enemies.

B Lode said...


We just say the same things all the time.


My wife asked me the other day, if a politician who agreed with me on immigration and disagreed with me on everything else ran against the opposite, who would I vote for. I laughed at the implausibility. Immigration is the most important issue but if the pro-immigration candidate actually wanted to kill affirmative action, the Patriot Act, welfare, gun control, foreign aid, US membership in the UN, and lax practices in the prison that laid to prisoner rape, I'd feel bad voting against him, especially against a restrictionist that was wrong on all those issues.

Fortunately it's not going to come up.

Cameron said...

B Lode, would being in opposition (not sure if that's the right term) affect Republican voting? ie are they able to take a harder line than if they had power?

To me there does seem to be a bit of energy and momentum building in the US at the moment. I think you're right that the Tea Party isn't quite sure what to do with it, but it's a start. I hope their movement doesn't get hijacked by the Palin's and Beck's.

B Lode said...

... would being in opposition (not sure if that's the right term) affect Republican voting? ie are they able to take a harder line than if they had power? - Cameron

Oh, tough question. Let me think on that. I'm not sure that, with the Presidency and the Senate (and the civili service and lower courts) in Democratic, they consider themselves in power. Thanks for visiting!

B Lode said...

P.S. We don't use "in opposition" that much in the US. Usually we say they're the "minority party" or "they lost". Nowadays you could logically say they're the "victorious opposition". With three different elected entities spanning two branches, it's usually arguable who is in power. This is complicated by the fact that party discipline in the US is low, so a large, fractious party can appear to be in power when in fact the other side wins most of the votes.

Jehu said...

B Lode,
If the US did a lot of those other things (ditched affirmative action and all protected classes other than 'US citizen', restored free association basically, dumped the welfare state, and stopped using the educational establishment as a club to guilt-trip white people), the US would have considerably greater assimilative power and we manage our problems much better. One of the huge mistakes libertarians make is that they assume that they can get there from here without closing off the taps of immigration (particularly illegal immigration) for a good long time. I suspect this is because they really hate to be called racists and just supporting free association like I do is enough to make you a double-plus racist in the eyes of most people. I don't make any bones about the fact that I support the right of, say, a landlord, to say no black people, bisexuals, or handicapped people need apply, and I don't bother with the qualifier that I'd consider that person to be lowly scum, because, in fact, I don't consider anti-discrimination the greatest virtue nor discrimination the greatest vice. Frankly even a lot of 1960's Klansmen were nice enough neighbors and I dislike them a lot less than the SWPL that wants to destroy the demographic hegemony of me and mine.

As to your first statement, well, I think the largest difference between us is that I'm less likely to say 'nice doggie' while I'm searching for a rock. I've got a daughter coming in a couple weeks, and I find that each new little addition to 'me and mine' tends to harden my positions on existential issues.

Steve Sailer said...


Any estimates on the size of the change on Tuesday?

Anonymous said...

Also, look at the huge difference in the last floor vote on reducing legal immigration in 1995. GOP by and large supported it, and virtually all non-southern Democrats were against it. Problem was about 60 GOP Rinos voted with Dems.

B Lode said...

Any estimates on the size of the change on Tuesday? - Steve Sailer

Thanks for stopping by!

I don't know exactly how to estimate the changes due to the election. I suppose if I find time I will look at how the restrictionist PACs viewed the Republicans who get elected.

Things may be looking up.

B Lode said...

I've got a daughter coming in a couple weeks, and I find that each new little addition to 'me and mine' tends to harden my positions on existential issues. - Jehu

I have a little boy coming in December.


Hail said...

who am I to say that the new Republicans will be as restrictionist as their predecessors?

I just can't see how they have been "restrictionist". A better term would be "Have not yet declared it a universal human right to reside in the USA"-ist.

1.) Allowing in a million plus legal immigrants per year, with never any opposition to that at all ("It is illegals...Legals are great, only illegals are bad!),
2.) Allowing the "14th-Amendment-babies" issue to go unaddressed,
3.) Perpetuating the H1B visa scam,
4.) Making no real effort at large-scale deportation of illegals,
5.) Making no real effort at crackdown on employers, only empty talk.
6.) Occasional Republican amnesties.

If these are "restrictionists"...

Hail said...

106 Republicans is out of 221 total Republicans in the 111th Congress got A's. (535 total Congresspeople).

111th Congress was elected Nov-2008. 63 Republican seats were lost in swing districts with the 2006 anti-Bush wave and then the Obama wave, so these 221 were the hard-core of the Republican party, the "safe-district" folks in Mississppi and so on.

So, even at a time when the Republican party was purged of its softer elements, still under half earn A's.

One thing I wonder: What is the average grade of the 2010-elected "Tea-Party" Republicans?

B Lode said...

I have intended to look harder at the Tea Party members-elect, but I haven't done so yet. Too lazy I guess.

In any case: while I may seem an incurable optimist, I am something of a superficial optimist. In other words, I wrote this essay because it was easy ... like shaking my fist at a rain cloud and demanding that it dissolve.

Hail said...

There is "optimism" and there is naivete.

The Republicans of the generation presently alive, as a party, have -never- shown themselves willing to cut down on immigration.

It would be great to see the Republican Party die, like the Whigs died 150 years ago. The Whigs died because they split over slavery. The Republicans today could die because they could split over immigration: The neoconservatives can keep the "Republican Party" they hijakced, while others form a new party that eventually displaces the Republicans.

Tancredo, nominee of the Constitution Party, got 3.5 times as many votes as the neoconservative-Republican in the recent Colorado race. The Republican Party was demoted to minor party status in Colorado!

B Lode said...

I was greatly heartened by Tancredo's showing in Colorado. Mainstream Republicans deserve to be out of the top two - they represent no legitimate interests.

What I've been trying to get across is I'm not sure the Republican Party of 2011 is the same as the Republican Party of the past. The GOP governor-elect of my state (and one of his primary opponents) both stated open support for Arizona-style legislation. The soon-to-be-chairman of the relevant US House standing committee has stated that he aims to end birthright citizenship.

In any event, I don't mind being called naive. Neither of us has any money riding on any bets, and both of us have our entire futures determined partly by what happens in DC. If your non-naivete helps out your corner of the world, then by all means embrace it proudly; I'm not ready to pack for Perth just yet.