A New York Times/CBS News national poll of Democrats and Republicans shows that the constant drumbeat over illegal immigration simply isn’t registering.
According to the underlying data (PDF), just 5 percent believe that immigration is the most important problem facing the country — well behind war and Iraq (a cumulative 22 percent) and the economy (20 percent), and slightly behind health care (7 percent).
When asked what kind of change they most want to see the next president bring about, reducing illegal immigration (4 percent of respondents) was again well down on the list, behind improving the economy (20 percent), dealing with the war in Iraq (14 percent), improving health care (6 percent) and helping the middle class (5 percent).
Just to reinforce the point, John McCain — perceived as taking the least draconian stand on illegal immigration of any Republican presidential candidate — now gets the highest favorability ratings.
As Globe columnist Joan Vennochi points out, even though Gov. Deval Patrick is taking a political risk with his not-quite-proposal to extend in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants, Patrick is well aware that immigrant-bashing has proved to be a loser of an issue.
Herald columnist Peter Gelzinis makes the same observation, writing:
Do you think Gov. Deval Patrick would be floating the idea of lowering state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants at this moment if Mitt Romney’s $40 million “illegal alien” screed had carried him to victory in Iowa and New Hampshire?
I don’t think so. Deval may be a moonbat, but he did manage to graduate from the same law school as Willard.
Gelzinis also notes that Patrick’s Republican opponent for the governorship in 2006, Kerry Healey, made a huge deal of illegal immigration. Healey, of course, became the first Republican candidate to lose a governor’s race in Massachusetts since 1986.
Politicians make a huge mistake when they confuse what they hear on talk radio with what most average Americans have on their minds.