From: Gerald Martin (e-mail him)
Did you see it? Did you hear it? On Hannity Tuesday night, The Frank Luntz focus group with Iowa Republican voters. Mostly women. [What Are Republican Women Looking for in 2012? Fox News, November 22, 2011]For most of the session, it was the usual clichés and boilerplate you expect from G.O.P. die-hards. But suddenly, on immigration, it all changed.
These Republican voters were far more articulate, straightforward, and right about illegal immigration and the dereliction of duty by the federal government in failing to protect our borders, than any of the Republican candidates. They were angry. They wanted action. One woman demanded the shutdown of the Department of Education and using its budget to help secure the border.
Luntz tried to get them to back down, just a bit—he hectored them about the "impossibility" of deporting 12 million illegals. To people like Luntz, there are only two alternatives: a Gestapo like round-up evoking the Third Reich or "compassion" (the political operative's favored euphemism for amnesty). The focus group wasn't buying it. They cited the success of Alabama in persuading illegals to leave and asked a Republican congresswoman with Luntz, "Why don't you people [in Congress] get it?" (I.e., that voters wanted the border secured and illegal aliens removed from our society.)
The five minute segment belied Luntz's introduction to it, his claim that immigration was the one subject on which Republicans couldn't agree. To the contrary, the focus group response made it clear that rank and file Republicans in Iowa not only agree on immigration, they agree with the VDARE position, at least on illegal immigration. Luntz tried to get them to endorse greater legal immigration, by pointing out the millions who want to come but supposedly can't because of the limitations in our present laws. He got a couple of the usual "immigration made our country strong" type answers, but nothing more, and no desire for higher legal immigration was expressed by anyone (except Luntz, in the way he formulated the question).
All in all, it was a delicious five minutes. It showed again the huge difference between elite and popular opinion on immigration. To his credit, Luntz finally gave up hectoring the group and allowed them to have their say. He ended with a warning to the Republican candidates that they better start giving clear answers about where they stand on immigration.
But I won't bet money they will.
Martin is a former Army officer and high school teacher descended from cowboys, Texas Rangers, and railroad workers. See his previous letters.