Over at her new perch at Commentary's Contentions blog, recent AmSpecBlog alumna Jennifer Rubin notes that immigration hasn't played as important of a role in the 2008 election as predicted. I'd put things in a slightly different way. I think that immigration is still an important issue to conservative voters, but it is an issue that is easy for candidates to neutralize. In the 2006 election, a lot of Republican immigration hawks went down in defeat, because their Democratic rivals were were able to satisfy voters enough by talking tougher on immigration. The same phenomenon has played out in this cycle. Tom Tancredo didn't gain much traction as a candidate, and was forced to drop out before Iowa and endorse Mitt Romney, because Romney had embraced many of his immigration policies. Romney tried to attack Mike Huckabee on immigration, but Huckabee was able to fend off those attacks by releasing a hardline proposal of his own. And finally, even John McCain was able to win in South Carolina, where immigration was a big issue, by saying the country had spoken and he now realizes that enforcement has to come first. In a general election, whoever the candidates are in both parties, they'll say they want to secure the border and improve the process for legal immigration. And nothing will get done. Probably the reason why a lot of conservatives get so riled up about the issue.
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