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More to Mitt Romney’s loss than his immigration stance

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Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2012 12:00 am

As the post-presidential election dust settles, let me present a fact-based analysis of why Mitt Romney lost.

Despite what you have read dozens of times, the reasons don't include Hispanics' overwhelming support of President Obama, or a variation of the same theme, because Romney didn't resonate with Hispanics.

While those two factors are undeniably true, Romney lost for different reasons. Middle-class white Americans, who should be Romney's base, didn't vote for him in significant enough numbers to put him over the top. According to exit polling, if Romney had won 5 percent more of the self-identified conservatives, he'd be president-elect today.

The media has relentlessly, almost deliriously, reported that Hispanics delivered Obama the White House. But if you look at several of the swing states, the Hispanic population isn't big enough to make a difference. In Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Hispanic fractions are 3 percent or less versus 80 percent or higher white totals. Iowa is 93 percent white. Yet Romney lost all four states because he couldn't capture the white vote, most likely because working-class Americans don't identify with economic libertarianism or Wall Street rich guys.

If the Hispanic vote is as crucial as the media would like you to believe, how does anyone explain Nevada and Texas, 27 and 38 percent Hispanic respectively, which elected by comfortable margins Republican Sens. Dean Heller and Ted Cruz?

The widespread conclusion among journalists and many in GOP leadership is that Republicans must immediately join with Democrats to pass a comprehensive amnesty for illegal aliens. Allegedly, a GOP-endorsed amnesty would demonstrate to Hispanics that Republicans "get it" and should be considered the political equal to Democrats on immigration.

This argument, advanced mostly by Washington, D.C. lobbyists, doesn't hold water. Ask yourself this simple question: If Romney had campaigned as vigorously on immigration entitlements as Obama, would he have been elected? The answer is a resounding "no." Hispanics vote Democratic — period.

Recent history proves my point. In 2008, the GOP nominated Arizona Sen. John McCain, co-sponsor with Ted Kennedy of the failed 2006 amnesty bill. No Republican had a longer, more supportive track record on behalf of Hispanics than McCain. Yet Obama, only a college student when McCain cast his first House votes for Hispanic causes, trounced his opponent. McCain won a mere 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, only fractionally more than Romney's 28 percent.

No matter the evidence that on immigration the GOP can't move left of Democrats, and that amnesty wouldn't benefit the party, several prominent Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, have foolishly signaled that they're willing to consider it.

Here's the likely sequence of events after the 113th Congress convenes: The Senate will introduce amnesty legislation. Although Senate Democrats are in the majority, passing an immigration bill is not a certainty. Pro-enforcement Senate Republicans are well-enough represented to mount a fierce challenge. If the Senate prevails and the bill reaches the House, it could be dead on arrival. The new House Judiciary Committee chair, Bob Goodlatte, opposes amnesty in any form and has the necessary allies to block Democrats' efforts to ram it through.

Former U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, who lost his House seat in 2008 in part because of his immigration advocacy, philosophizes that "No year is ever a good year to seek immigration reform. ... The Obama administration should ... not waste capital on this most difficult of all subjects."

Long, drawn-out immigration battles take precious time away from more pressing, paramount issues like the fiscal cliff, Afghanistan and deeply flawed Obamacare, to name only a few.

The best reason to reject amnesty is that it's bad legislation. Increased immigration hurts everyone — most especially those in the lowest economic sectors, including recent immigrants who are struggling to find jobs and support their families.

Joe Guzzardi, a registered Independent, retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He lives in Pittsburgh. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.