By The Numbers: Cantor’s Defeat Is Not About Immigration

Bill Scher

There are 506,065 registered voters in Virginia’s 7th congressional district.

About 364,000 of them, or 72 percent, support immigration reform that includes legalization of those currently undocumented, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey.

Only 36,120 of them, or 7 percent, voted to oust Rep. Eric Cantor, who was attacked as insufficiently anti-immigration despite his opposition to the Senate bill.

Also yesterday, Sens. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Susan Collins (Maine), who unlike Cantor actually voted for immigration reform and spend more time tending to constituents at home, coasted in their Republican primaries: 57 percent and 98 percent, respectively.

Last month, Rep. Renee Ellmers (North Carolina) cruised in her Republican primary after publicly feuding on-air with conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham and accusing her of being “ignorant” by opposing all immigration reform.

Ingraham now is being celebrated by anti-immigration forces for defeating Cantor, and pundits everywhere are declaring immigration reform dead.

But the numbers don’t add up to make that case.

Speaker John Boehner has six weeks before President Barack Obama will act unilaterally to ease deportations.

He can succumb to the panic, bury reform and let Obama and the Democrats get all the glory from the Latino community.

Or he can look at the numbers, realize that Republicans can manage anti-immigration backlash with a little Politics 101, recognize that the primary season is largely over anyway, and do what’s right for both immigrants and the Republican Party’s long-term viability.

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