It appears that the opposition to the bill isn't "the extremes of the left and right" against the virtuous center. The reality is that the non-elites are revolting against the elites. Take a look at the Senate voting patterns. The Democrats who opposed the bill are (generally) from working class, low immigrant states. Same as it turns out for the Republicans. There is also a significant voting pattern with respect to the successful Dorgan amendment to limit the "guest worker" plan to 5 years. Check out the Democrats (plus Sanders) who voted no on cloture Baucus (D-MT) Bingaman (D-NM) Boxer (D-CA) Byrd (D-WV) Dorgan (D-ND) Landrieu (D-LA) McCaskill (D-MO) Pryor (D-AR) Rockefeller (D-WV) Sanders (I-VT) Tester (D-MT) Webb (D-VA)
With the possible exception of Boxer (D-CA), all of these Democrats seem to have opposed the bill because of the "guest worker" plan and/or the Amnesty. Boxer (D-CA) presumably objected to anything other than abolishing the border. I don't think the Republican votes against cloture are notable because many were clearly party-line. Kyl voted against cloture even though he obviously supports the bill. Same for Lott, McConnell, etc. By contrast, the Republican votes for cloture are significant. These are presumably the hard core Amnesty Now, Amnesty Forever Bushbots. Graham (R-SC) Hagel (R-NE) Lugar (R-IN) Martinez (R-FL) McCain (R-AZ) Specter (R-PA) Voinovich (R-OH) Note that there are more (12) hard core Democratic opponents of the bill, than Republican supporters (7). The next vote to look at is the Dorgan amendment () to terminate the "guest worker' plan after 5 years. Presumably, the Republicans who voted YEA, are the hardcore opponents. Bunning (R-KY) Corker (R-TN) DeMint (R-SC) Dole (R-NC) Enzi (R-WY) Inhofe (R-OK) Sessions (R-AL) Shelby (R-AL) Sununu (R-NH) Thune (R-SD) Vitter (R-LA) My guess is that most, if not all, of these Republicans would actually support some type of a "guest worker" plan. However, they so strongly oppose Amnesty that they were quite willing to vote in favor of a "killer amendment". The Democrats who voted against the Dorgan amendment are a more complex group. Some are obviously Amnesty Now types (Kennedy, Feinstein, Salazar). However, others are not. The list is Akaka (D-HI) Cantwell (D-WA) Carper (D-DE) Feinstein (D-CA) Kennedy (D-MA) Kerry (D-MA) Lieberman (ID-CT) Lincoln (D-AR) Pryor (D-AR) Salazar (D-CO) Whitehouse (D-RI)
These votes support two arguments. First, Senators representing non-elite, low immigrants states are the most strongly opposed to Amnesty and the bill overall. Second, the Republicans and the Democrats want very different things from the bill. The Democrats want Amnesty, first and foremost and are essentially opposed to any "guest worker" plan. The Republicans generally oppose Amnesty (with a core who strongly oppose Amnesty and a core who strongly support Amnesty), but dearly want a "guest worker" plan. Why? Perhaps cheap labor with minimal social costs and no imported voters for the Democrats. Would a "guest worker" plan work out that way? Not very likely, as vast foreign and U.S. experience shows. However, it is a nice theory (and with brutal enforcement might even work). Of course, I am opposed to all "guest worker" plans and all mass amnesties. The corollary is that killing the "guest worker" plan, kills the bill. Without the "guest worker" plan, there is nothing left in the bill for Republicans to vote for. The shift to merit based immigration is 8 years away and of little interest to Republicans (the Democrats definitely oppose it though). Most Republicans are presumably smart enough to know that it will be gutted long before the 8 years have passed. Actutally, that is not quite so clear... Of course, the enforcement provisions are either meaningless (border control inferior to current law) or questionable (the Employment Eligibility Verification System ) from a Republican standpoint. Conversely, removing the "guest worker" plan will make the bill more attractive to Democrats. Only the hard core anti-Amnesty Democrats will still oppose it. However, without the support of Kyl and the rest of the "guest worker" Republicans, the bill won't go back to the Senate floor (as Kyl has stated many times).
Below are the 29 Senators who voted to strip the Amnesty from the bill (the Vitter Amendment). Presumably, they are the most likely to support killer amendments and/or oppose any final bill. Once again the list is strongly weighted towards non-elite states with low immigrant populations
Alexander (R-TN) Allard (R-CO) Baucus (D-MT) Bond (R-MO) Bunning (R-KY) Byrd (D-WV) Coburn (R-OK) Cochran (R-MS) Corker (R-TN) Crapo (R-ID) DeMint (R-SC) Dole (R-NC) Dorgan (D-ND) Enzi (R-WY) Grassley (R-IA) Inhofe (R-OK) Landrieu (D-LA) McCaskill (D-MO) McConnell (R-KY) Nelson (D-NE) Pryor (D-AR) Roberts (R-KS) Rockefeller (D-WV) Sessions (R-AL) Shelby (R-AL) Sununu (R-NH) Tester (D-MT) Thune (R-SD) Vitter (R-LA)