Sometimes we’re just in the immigration bubble. Like when we assume that voters were trying to send a message on immigration when they voted in yesterday’s midterm elections. Depending on who you want to believe, the President’s failure to issue an executive order either cost Democrats the Senate (see here and here) or the President’s plans for “amnesty” resulted in a voter revolt.
I would suggest that both sides are spinning the results. Voters really didn’t care enough about immigration to shift most of last night’s races (Colorado is probably the exception). Only 14% of voters told exit pollsters immigration was their most important issue. Voters were pretty supportive of immigration reform proposals along the lines being promoted by President Obama but supporters of reform still crossed over and voted for Republicans. And that’s because other issues were on their mind that were more important – especially the economy.
Immigration can be a critical issue, but in last night’s competitive races the Latino population was relatively small. Latinos are the one group that typically makes being pr0-immigration a litmus test for support. And far right voters of make immigration enforcement their number one issue were going to overwhelmingly vote Republican anyway.
2016 is going to be a very different story, however. A presidential election and a number of competitive Senate races in states with large Latino populations will guarantee that.