Electoral Suicide

Part of the conservative appeal for the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) was that he could "do math." He was a "numbers guy." Similarly, former Governor Jeb Bush is from Florida, and should understand very well its electoral demographics -- particularly since his brother George won the 2000 election by a bare margin due solely to what happened in the Sunshine State. These points make it all the more bizarre that both Ryan and Bush would support immigration reform. This type of legislation would sentence the GOP to near permanent electoral oblivion unless the party adopted very liberal positions to match up with the resulting illegal alien infused left-wing demographic shift.

Slate.com has published the following state-by-state map of the estimated American illegal immigrant population, based on data produced by the Pew Hispanic Center. While they are spread out across the nation, illegal immigrants are especially concentrated in Nevada, California, Texas, New Jersey, and Florida, where they accounted for an astonishingly high 7.2%, 6.8%, 6.7%, 6.2%, and 4.5% of these states' total populations in 2010.


California and New Jersey are already Democratic strongholds. Texas is safely Republican (for now). Nevada and Florida remain battlegrounds, as do a number of other key states.

The margins of victory in Florida since 2000 have been 537 votes/0.01% (2000; Bush), 380,978/5.01% (2004; Bush), 236,148/2.81% (2008; Obama), and 74,309/0.88% (2012; Obama). Florida has an estimated 825,000 illegal immigrants. Assuming that these illegal immigrants have a similar age demographic to the general American population (i.e., 76.5% aged 18 and over), that about 60% of these individuals will vote (consistent with the general population), and that 80% will vote Democratic (the same percentage as in the 2008 and 2012 elections for minority voters), legalizing these illegal aliens will add a 227,000-vote Democratic margin to future elections. This effectively puts Florida out of reach in any subsequent presidential elections for Republicans, if the 2000 through 2012 election trend is any guidance.

To state the obvious, Republicans need to be careful with Florida. Its post World War II voting history is erratic. In 1948, Florida went 64% in favor of Truman (Democrat) and Thurmond (States' Rights Democratic Party). In 1952 (55%) and 1956 (57%), it voted for clear Eisenhower (Republican) majorities. Nixon (Republican) won a slim majority (51.5%) over Kennedy (Democrat) in 1960. Johnson (Democrat) carried the state by an equally slim majority (51.1%) in 1964. Nixon won again in 1968, but lost the state popular vote (41%) to the Humphrey/Wallace combination at 59%. The 1972 Nixon win was a landslide (72%), but in 1976 Florida went for Carter (52%). Reagan carried the state convincingly in 1980 (56%) and 1984 (65%), as did Bush 41 in 1988 (61%). By 1992, Bush won the state (41%), but lost the popular vote to Clinton (39%) and Perot (20%) -- still a conservative victory given Perot's leanings.

The post-1992 period is where we see the left-right split consistently tightening up in Florida. In 1996, Clinton (48%) only modestly fended off the Dole (42%)/Perot (9%) combination. As noted already, 2000 was essentially a Bush/Gore tie, with 2004, 2008, and 2012 also being close races. Bush would have lost the 2000 election if the illegal immigrants in Florida had been legalized at that time; and thus, he wouldn't have been contesting the 2004 election. It seems bizarre that Jeb Bush would now advocate for an immigration reform policy that would have denied his brother the presidency had it been enacted pre-2000.

As well, if we run the historical counterfactual, had Bush lost in 2000 due to hypothetical amnestied voters, whoever the Republicans would have likely nominated in his place would not have had the Bush-Florida connection, suggesting that a non-Bush ticket in 2004 coupled with the amnesty vote would have seen a Republican loss, leading to the counterfactual pre-2000 amnesty giving Florida to the Democrats for the entire period from 1996 to 2012. With 29 electoral college votes, promoting policies that put Florida consistently in the "D" column is politically suicidal.

Nevada went for Bush by 21,597 votes/3.55% in 2000, for Bush again by 21,500/2.59% in 2004, for Obama by 120,909/12.49% in 2008, and for Obama again by 67,806/6.68% in 2012. With an estimated 190,000 illegal immigrants, if we apply the same voting math after legalization as described above, this results in a new 52,000 vote Democratic margin to add into these results, making Nevada a solid Democratic state (and wiping out the 2000 and 2004 Bush victories if we look retrospectively).

North Carolina voted for Romney by 92,004 votes/2.04% in 2012, after going for Obama by only 14,177/0.33% in 2008. Bush won by substantial majorities in 2000 (12.83%) and 2004 (12.43%). With 325,000 illegal immigrants, immigration reform would likely have added a 90,000 vote margin to the Democrats for this state, meaning a solid Obama win in 2008 (rather than a tight race with McCain) and a potential Romney loss in 2012.

Iowa only went for Bush by 10,059 votes/0.67% in 2004. With 75,000 estimated illegals in the state, their projected vote would probably hand the Democrats a new 21,000 vote margin, meaning a Bush loss. Bush's 2004 margin in New Mexico was 5,988 votes/0.79%. Having 85,000 illegal immigrants, their voting preferences would have likely led to a Bush loss by 17,000 votes. McCain would have undoubtedly lost Missouri -- with its 55,000 illegals -- in 2008 if illegal aliens had the vote (McCain only won by 3,903 votes).

It's a very dangerous electoral game the pro-amnesty group of Republicans is playing. Never mind the irrefutable objections to immigration reform based on fundamental rule of law principles, national security concerns, and economic arguments, this type of legislation can also be clearly shown to lead to potential electoral disasters for conservatives.

Dr. Sierra Rayne writes regularly on environment, energy, and national security topics. He can be found on Twitter at @rayne_sierra.