Today? It’s 17%. According to a Gallup poll released a few days ago, immigration has surged to the top of the list as “the Most Important U.S. Problem”. This replaces “dissatisfaction with government” (16%).
Two other tidbits to glean from this poll: (1) the issue is higher among Republicans (23%) than Democrats (11%); and (2) older Americans (over 50) are more likely than younger Americans (under 50) to cite immigration as the top issue.
So, while this poll shows us what Americans are now talking about, even more importantly is what they aren’t talking about anymore — major scandals such as those involving the IRS, the VA, and even the situation in Iraq, among others (most of those can probably be filed under “dissatisfaction with government”).
The IRS and VA scandals are particularly scathing to the administration. Is it any wonder why, at the very time when the heat began to turn up on these two issues, the immigration surge began. Those very demographics — Republicans and older Americans — who are most likely to be incensed at the IRS and VA scandals are now the ones even more incensed at the immigration issue…so that they are no longer focused on the IRS and VA.
The poll concluded: “the fact that the issue is of particular concern to Republicans and older Americans — both groups that Republicans need to turn out in force in the midterms — could be critical to the outcome.”
The poll is likely correct, but in a different sort of way. Even the IRS scandal and the VA scandal made many Democrats squirm as well as Republicans, so there was no way to pit one group against the other for political gain. With the immigration surge, however, it is a bit more partisan, and creates a better opportunity for the Democrats to target the Republicans on this issue (and vice versa) — precisely in time for election season.
In fact, the Washington Times noted last week,
“Perhaps one particular decision by the White House highlights how concerned the administration is about public reaction: As of now, not a single illegal-alien detainee seems to have been sent to Louisiana or Arkansas, the states bordering Texas that are closest to the site of the border deluge. This is no accident. Those two states have Democratic senators up for re-election who are vulnerable enough to lose, but who might still be able to prevail. The White House appears to have decided not to send any illegals there to avoid the potential for political damage.”
The White House is keenly aware of not “letting this crisis go to waste”. They have carefully chosen not to send immigrants to states with vulnerable Democrat elections so that they will avoid arousing the Republican/elderly electorate on Election Day.
On the other hand, those who are concerned about the immigrant surge are already being painted as “anti-children”, “heartless”, etc. Those sentiments are certain to be repeated during the election cycle.
At least one group thinks that this crisis is contrived. The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO), which issued a statement in early June, essentially stating that surge of immigrants, including minors, crossing our border “is not a humanitarian crisis. It is a predictable, orchestrated and contrived assault on the compassionate side of Americans by her political leaders that knowingly puts minor illegal alien children at risk for purely political purposes.”
The immigration surge is less about immigration than it is about deflection. If the Obama Administration can have a large part of the electorate — especially Republicans and elderly — refocus on something big other than the IRS scandal, VA scandal, and more, then they can be out of scrutiny on those particularly damning issues for at least the time being.