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Southern U.S. Representatives Leading the Campaign Against Illegal Immigration

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Nearly half of Southern U.S. House incumbents address illegal immigration on campaign websites, compared to 30 percent from the West, 23 percent in the Midwest, and 14 percent out East

This is the second in a series of reports on U.S. House incumbents campaigning on illegal immigration. The first report analyzed the differences in how Democratic and Republican incumbents highlighted illegal immigration on their campaign websites.

Although support for a crackdown on illegal immigration - as well as the Arizona law SB 1070 - is enjoying large support in states across the country, it is not drawing uniform attention from Representatives in the U.S. House.

A Smart Politics content analysis of campaign websites for U.S. House incumbents running for reelection in 2010 finds that 49 percent of Representatives from Southern states are highlighting the immigration issue, compared to just 30 percent from Western states, 23 percent from the Midwest, and 14 percent from the East.

Smart Politics content analyzed the policy issues highlighted on the campaign websites of 373 members of the U.S. House (all 435 seats minus vacancies, minus the more than three dozen Representatives not running for reelection, minus those incumbents already defeated in primaries, minus 18 Representatives who do not maintain campaign websites).

Of the 124 Representatives running for reelection to the House from the 16 Southern states, 61 are putting immigration issues in the spotlight on their websites (49.2 percent) while 63 are not (50.8 percent).

Southern members of Congress are by far the most immigration-focused of the four regions of the United States, in part because delegation-heavy Texas is a border state with Mexico. Twenty of the Lone Star State's 29 Representatives with campaign websites highlight immigration as a top issue, with 17 of them advocating get-tough reforms, such as Republican Michael Burgess (TX-26):

"Over the past decade, immigration has become a crisis for our nation. With over one million immigrants streaming into our country every year, our education, terrorism, healthcare, and prison systems are being heavily burdened by this growing population."

Meanwhile, just 30.3 percent of Representatives from the nation's 13 Western states feature immigration as one of the top issues on their campaign websites (27 of 89), including of five of the seven incumbents running for reelection from Arizona and five of seven from Colorado.

However, none of the three (all Democratic) incumbents from the border state of New Mexico are putting immigration in the spotlight, nor are 32 of the 46 incumbents with campaign websites from California. Several of those who are focused on immigration from California are opposed to the enforcement-first policy backed by the GOP and the majority of Americans (e.g. Linda Sanchez, CA-39; Joe Baca, CA-43; Bob Filner, CA-51).

Representing districts further away from the U.S.-Mexican border are those from the nation's 12 Midwestern states.

Of the 88 incumbents running for reelection maintaining a campaign website, just 20 are emphasizing the immigration issue (22.7 percent).

Of the four northern rim states in this region - North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan - just 3 of 27 incumbents address illegal immigration on their websites (11.1 percent): Paul Ryan (WI-01; advocating a get-tough approach), Keith Ellison (MN-05, soft), and Thad McCotter (MI-11; get-tough).

Moving still further from the southern border are Representatives from the nine states in the Eastern region of the country. Only 13.9 percent of incumbents from these states (10 of 72) are highlighting immigration on their campaign websites.

Geographic Distribution of U.S. House Incumbents Highlighting Immigration on Campaign Websites

Region
Yes
No
Total
% Yes
% No
South
61
63
124
49.2
50.8
West
27
62
89
30.3
69.7
Midwest
20
68
88
22.7
77.3
East
10
62
72
13.9
86.1
Total
118
255
373
31.6
68.4
Data based on the percentage of all U.S. House incumbents running for reelection with campaign websites by regions as demarcated by the U.S. Census. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

Of course, part of the reason why Southern members of the U.S. House are inordinately highlighting immigration on their campaign websites is that this region is dominated by Republicans.

The first part of this series of reports demonstrated GOP incumbents to be focusing on immigration 2.7 times more than their Democratic counterparts.

In total, 69.1 percent of Southern Republican incumbents featured immigration as a top issue on their websites, compared to 44.1 percent out West, 32.5 percent in the Midwest, and 21.4 percent out East.

The GOP has 68 incumbents running in the South (plus one without a website), compared to 40 in the Midwest, 34 in the West, and 14 in the East.

The geographic distribution of Democratic U.S. House members running for reelection is much more even: 58 in the East (plus six without websites), 56 in the South (plus four without websites), 55 in the West (plus four without websites), and 48 in the Midwest (plus three without websites).

Overall, 25 percent of Democratic Representatives from the South highlight immigration, compared to 21.8 percent out West, 14.6 percent in the Midwest, and 12.1 percent out East.

U.S. House Incumbents Addressing Immigration on Campaign Websites by Region and Party

Republican
Yes
No
Total
% Yes
% No
South
47
21
68
69.1
30.9
West
15
19
34
44.1
55.9
Midwest
13
27
40
32.5
67.5
East
3
11
14
21.4
78.6
Total
78
78
156
50.0
50.0
Democrat
Yes
No
Total
% Yes
% No
South
14
42
56
25.0
75.0
West
12
43
55
21.8
78.2
Midwest
7
41
48
14.6
85.4
East
7
51
58
12.1
87.9
Total
40
177
217
18.4
81.6
Data based on the percentage of all U.S. House incumbents running for reelection with campaign websites by party and region, as demarcated by the U.S. Census. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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Previous post: GOP U.S. House Incumbents Six Times More Likely to Run Get-Tough on Illegal Immigration Campaigns than Democrats
Next post: Emmer's Statewide Support Still Ahead of Pawlenty's 2002 Pace

1 Comment


  • Nice analysis! Is immigration not a nationwide problem? Why is the elephant in the room not being addressed by all members of the House? Politics is local but the financial distress is felt by all taxpayers. Wake up incumbents, election day is three months away!

  • Leave a comment


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