Somewhere, Kay Hagan is probably breathing a sigh of relief. Why? It looks like President Obama has decided to put off his bold action on immigration reform – amnesty via executive fiat – until after the midterm elections.
Hagan’s record on immigration isn’t the most progressive. She voted against the DREAM Act (this must be among the 5% of times she voted against Obama). But executive action on the part of Obama which would bring amnesty to illegal immigrants would ignite a firestorm that would probably doom Democratic incumbents, no matter where they stand on the issue. In an election where base turnout is everything, Hagan would probably be one of them.
Paradoxically, Obama’s delaying action on this issue is not because the political environment is looking worse for Democrats, it’s because it’s getting better. A Republican wave doesn’t look like it’s on the horizon. That’s not saying one won’t appear – certainly in 2006, the size and scale of the Democratic wave that year wasn’t apparent until after the Mark Foley scandal, in early October.
But as of right now, Democratic incumbents look surprisingly strong in states that, if a wave appeared, they should be doomed in. In Arkansas, Mark Pryor is looking less like Blanche Lincoln and a lot more like, well, Mark Pryor. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana didn’t have a good week last week but there’s still a path to victory for her. Mark Udall right now appears to be the slight favorite in purple Colorado. It’s anybody’s guess what’s going to happen in screwy Alaska, but Begich’s chances right now look 50/50, at worst. And Kay Hagan is still holding her own against Thom Tillis here in North Carolina.
In the end, Obama only decrees amnesty by executive order if his party has nothing to lose. There was also the hope that Republicans would react by threatening to impeach Obama for abuse of executive power, but the GOP has been remarkably disciplined on the issue, with even Tea Party types realizing it’s a trap. With impeachment off the table, executive amnesty before the midterms has become a less attractive to Obama. Especially because as of today, Labor Day, the Democrats have a good chance to retain the U.S. Senate. Why take executive action on an issue that will probably backfire? Instead, wait until after the elections, for the lame-duck period between Congresses, and take action then – hopefully, with Harry Reid still running the United States Senate – and give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. By the 2016 election, it will be old news. It’s a win-win-win situation. Democrats win. Big business wins. Establishment Republicans win. Everybody wins.
Except for Americans. They lose.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.