Here's the exit poll
from the GOP race in California, which shows just how crucial Mitt Romney's public conversion in 2006-2007 to immigration restrictionism was to his having even a chance in this race. Man, people just don't like
Plastic Fantastic Man. Without the 29% of the voters who called illegal immigration the most important issue, among whom Romney beat McCain 45%-25%, Romney wouldn't have finished second, he would have been tarred and feathered and run out of California on a rail.
Heck, among the 33% of voters who identified the economy as the most important issue (a not surprising choice on a day when the Dow dropped 370 points), McCain beat Romney 48%-27%, even though Yosemite Sam has seldom paid any attention to the economy. Overall, Romney beat McCain 35%-32% among voters who think "Issues" are most important in deciding their vote, while getting clobbered by McCain 49%-26% among those voting on "Personal Qualities."[See table here.]