Immigration Impacting Mid-Term Elections
By Jennifer G. Hickey | August 30, 2018
On Tuesday, immigration loomed over primary races in Arizona and Florida and there are no signs that will change. In Arizona, Rep. Martha McSally defeated fellow Republicans Kelli Ward and Sheriff Joe Arpaio to set up a November battle with Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who has taken notice of the importance of immigration enforcement to Arizona voters.
With an eye on the Senate seat left vacant by retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, Sinema joined with House Republicans to support Kate’s Law, a resolution recognizing ICE’s importance, and also voted for the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, which included $1.6 billion for the border wall.
However, she also backs amnesty for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, a contrast with McSally, who has been endorsed by the National Border Council and chairs the Homeland Security Committee subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. With a slim majority in the Senate, Republicans view the Arizona seat as a “firewall” against a Democrat takeover and their open border agenda.
The Trump administration’s immigration enforcement agenda also should be at the center of the gubernatorial fight in Florida. Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, whose primary victory was secured by a Trump endorsement, will be facing Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, a fierce advocate of abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The contest has gained national attention and the contrast between the candidates on immigration policy will certainly further elevate the issue.
On Gillum’s website, he expresses support for “a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes abolishment of ICE in its current form to be replaced with a more compassionate and focused agency that actually keeps us safer.”
He claims the agency has been turned “into a police and child separation agency — not a border enforcement agency that treats people humanely and compassionately.”
Even in non-border states, immigration continues to factor into campaign strategy. In Montana, Republican Matt Rosendale showed a 2-point lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in a July survey conducted by WPA Intelligence for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
With a slight 47-45 advantage, Rosendale is hoping to use Tester’s record on immigration national security to move the race from “leans Democratic” into the Republican column.
Released last week, Rosendale’s ad takes aim at Tester’s attendance record, saying that “when he does show up, Tester’s like all the other liberals, supporting sanctuary cities, but opposing Kate’s Law and President Trump’s travel ban.”
The WPAi’s survey found 24 percent of likely voters identified illegal immigration as “the single most important issue they would like to see a candidate for the U.S. Senate address.” Health care was the top issue for 16 percent and the economy was highest for 11 percent of those polled.
Some good news heading toward November could be found in a recently-released HuffingtonPost/You.gov survey. In addition to more Americans expressing concern about the threat of MS-13, the poll found 44 percent of registered voters believed immigration policies need to be “more strict,” including 36 percent of Hispanic voters and 21 percent of black voters. Conversely, only 26 percent support less strict enforcement.