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Illegal Immigration A Red Hot Issue In Battleground States

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When Hillary Clinton stated her qualified support for a New York State law giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, she was criticized on two fronts: being out of step with the vast majority of Americans on the issue plus not giving a straight answer when pressed further on the issue by the MSNBC debate moderators. How much will her stance on illegal immigration hurt her campaign?

A November 2007 Rasmussen survey found 77 percent of Americans opposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, while 16 percent supported the measure. One rarely finds that kind of lopsided support for an issue, especially one that somehow remains a contentious issue on Capitol Hill.

Illegal immigration generally also remains a hot-button issue in several battleground states. A few weeks ago SurveyUSA asked registered voters in 7 key states (Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico, and Oregon) what one issue Congress should focus on ahead of all others. The respondents were given 8 choices: the economy, the environment, health care, Iraq, terrorism, Social Security, education and immigration.

Immigration, at 15 percent, was tied for the 2nd most important when averaged across these states, only trailing the war in Iraq (at 22 percent). Fifteen percent also stated health care, followed by the economy (13 percent), terrorism (12 percent), the environment (7 percent), education (7 percent), and Social Security (5 percent).

Immigration was found to be the top Congressional priority for voters in Colorado and Virginia, the second most important issue in New Hampshire and Oregon, the third highest in New Mexico, the fourth highest in Minnesota, and the fifth highest in Maine.

Concern about immigration was starkly split among partisan lines. Republicans determined immigration to be the most important issue in 4 states (Oregon, Virginia, Colorado, and Maine) and the second most important issue in 3 (New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Minnesota). Overall, 1 of 4 GOP registered voters claimed immigration to be the most pressing concern for Congress.

For Democrats, however, only 5 percent named immigration the key issue, including just 3 percent in Minnesota. For independents, 15 percent replied immigration was the top Congressional priority, ranking as the most important issue among that cross section in Colorado and Virginia.

Given these numbers, immigration will likely be a key factor in the upcoming primary elections, except for those states with closed Democratic primaries. For those states in which independents can vote in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton's immigration stance could hurt her in a close race.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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