Worth posting for two reasons. One, obviously: It’s newsworthy that a big majority of GOPers are open to a path to citizenship in the abstract. Don’t put it past The One to screw that up by turning the Senate immigration debate into a partisan pissing match, but for the moment there’s at least some reason for Rubio, McCain, et al. to believe that they can sell comprehensive reform to the right. This isn’t the only poll lately to show majority Republican support for citizenship either. A Fox News poll published two weeks ago found 56 percent in favor of a path provided that illegals are made to learn English, pay a fine and back taxes, and so forth.
Two: It’s glorious to be lectured by liberal bloggers about not letting partisanship dictate one’s policy preferences after a post-Bush Democratic shift on counterterrorism so profound that missile strikes on U.S. citizens are now part of the left’s Overton window. Whatever you think of O’s strategy, it’s Republicans who’ve been consistent at least on drones and Dems who’ve been “overtly unprincipled hacks,” in Glenn Greenwald’s words, in letting their position be determined by their antipathy to Bush.
The AWB numbers are as interesting to me as the immigration numbers. All along I’ve assumed that O taking a major role in the big gun-control push would polarize it the same way his presence in the immigration scrum might polarize that. Not so. On the contrary, his advocacy for gun control has the opposite effect you’d expect, making Republicans ever so slightly warmer to the idea and Democrats slightly colder (albeit within the margin of error). Why is that? My guess is that, after decades of debate and mountains of partisan dogma on both sides, people’s opinions on gun control are baked in the cake of their party ID to the point where even the president’s boosterism can’t do much to change them. No matter how much you dislike The One, your feelings about banning assault weapons were likely set before he ever even thought of running for president. Immigration is different: The policies involved are more complex, especially when presented as a “comprehensive” package, and Republicans are weighing the need to woo Latino voters more urgently after Romney’s loss. That’s more fluid, so the political gravity of the presidency has more of an effect. Or am I missing something?