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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Iowa Caucuses: Predictions--UPDATE, Fred surges in Iowa?

[Update] 1/3/08- IT IS CAUCUS DAY IN IOWA and I have a roundup of news, rumor, polls and reactions on todays post found here.

[Update] It seems Fred has a "late breaking surge" (Zogby's words) in Iowa, via the Corner, who points to Zogby's latest.

When I first started paying quite a bit of attention to politics, I wasn't aware of exactly how the Iowa Caucuses worked and the difference between the Republican caucuses and the Democratic caucuses, so lets start there.

The caucuses begin at 6:30pm for Democrats and 7pm for Republicans (local time).

The differences between the Republican caucus and the Democratic caucus is that the Republicans use a winner takes all system and the Democrats do not.

What that means is the Republicans vote by secret ballot and the vote determines which delegates, representing which candidates, will attend county conventions. There, delegates are chosen for state congressional district conventions, where delegate to national convention are picked.

Whichever candidate wins the caucuses takes all the delegates for the state.

On the Democratic side, they divide into groups, each supporting a specific candidate and if a candidate doesn't have enough of a percentage of the total number of voters attending. its members join other candidates' groups.

When that redistribution finally ends with groups of sufficient size, the delegates are divided among them according to the percentage of the meetings' attendees they represent. The process then proceeds through the county and state conventions. At the national convention, the candidates receive delegates proportionately, rather than the winner taking all of the state's delegates.

Caucuses can be held in schools, libraries, community centers, churches, private homes, etc...

Each state has their hot button topics that will shape the political landscape of how the caucuses will turn out, for example, popular opinion is that for Iowa, illegal immigration will shape their votes and for the New Hampshire GOP caucuses, taxes will be the determining factor.

Plenty of time for New Hampshire after the Iowa caucuses are finished.

One of the reasons that illegal immigration might have more of an impact than expected is in the numbers themselves.

According to FAIR, the illegal alien population in 2007 at 55,000. This number is 129% above the U.S. government estimate of 24,000 in 2000, and 1000% above the 1990 estimate of 5,000.

According to an estimate of the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2005 there were an estimated 55,000 to 85,000 illegal aliens living in Iowa.

FAIR estimates in 2004 that the taxpayers of Iowa spent $99 million per year on illegal aliens and their children in public schools.

Which brings us to some of the recent news articles written on this very subject, from different towns in Iowa.

Ottumwa, Iowa:

OTTUMWA, Iowa - Iowa is roughly 1,000 miles from the U.S.-Mexican border, and less than 5 percent of its population is immigrants.

But illegal immigration is a burning issue in this largely White, Midwestern state, and it's dominating the Republican presidential race here.

On Thursday, Iowa will decide in its caucuses whether to reward the candidates who have vowed to crack down on border crossers. If it does, the debate could get even hotter in the general election.

Several GOP contenders, among them Mitt Romney, have shifted to harder-line positions on immigration, and the topic almost always comes up in candidate stump speeches and town-hall meetings.

On Saturday in Ottumwa, for example, the former Massachusetts governor said, "Legal immigration is a great thing and a source of vitality and strength for America, but illegal immigration - that, we have got to stop. And I will go to work to do that very thing."

Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., warned on Saturday in Newton that continued lax border enforcement could imperil U.S. sovereignty and safety.

Osceola, Iowa:

Iowa is one of the least ethnically diverse states in the country, yet illegal immigration is the dominant issue among the Republican presidential candidates courting voters here for Thursday's caucuses.

That is an odd combination for the candidates, the experts and Iowa voters for a variety of reasons.

Among them:

- Iowa's nearly 3 million residents are 93 percent white, but the Hispanic population has grown rapidly. In 2006, the Census Bureau estimates, there were 112,986 Hispanics in Iowa, a nearly four-fold increase since 1990.

- Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado based his entire presidential campaign on his opposition to illegal immigration and attempts by Congress to provide what he termed amnesty for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. Tancredo attracted a small but passionate following in Iowa before leaving the race last week.

- The GOP candidates are using the hot-button issue to distinguish themselves from one another. Often it is a contest over who has been and would be the toughest on illegal immigrants.

- Iowa farmers and meatpackers have long employed large numbers of Hispanic workers. Some wonder how they will replace the cheaper labor if that labor pool ends.

- Finally, concerns that illegal immigration is a drain on social programs and the U.S. economy, and is a threat to national security, are issues with which Iowans, like all Americans, are very familiar.

The examples of articles relating to this illegal immigration and Iowa votes go on and on, which brings us to the candidates themselves and where they stand now on illegal immigration and just as importantly, where they stood on illegal immigration before they decided to run for President of the United States of America.


John McCain lost quite a bit of support when he favored the recent immigration reform bill that was defeated by a public outcry about the bill itself, which many rightly termed as "amnesty".

McCain has recently made it clear that he "got the message" of the American people and would no longer back any such plan.

Now, the Republican presidential candidate emphasizes securing the borders first. The rest, he says, is still needed but will have to come later.

"I understand why you would call it a, quote, shift," McCain told reporters Saturday after voters questioned him on his position during back-to-back appearances in this early voting state. "I say it is a lesson learned about what the American people's priorities are. And their priority is to secure the borders."

Rudy Guiliani inherited a "sanctuary city", New York City, which became a sanctuary city in 1989 through an executive order signed by Mayor Ed Koch in 1989, five years before Giuliani became mayor in January 1994, but, Giuliani embraced that sanctuary status.

In 1994 Giuliani said that anti-illegal immigration policies were "unfair" and "hostile".

"Some of the hardest-working and most productive people in this city are undocumented aliens," Giuliani said at the time. "If you come here and you work hard and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you're one of the people who we want in this city. You're somebody that we want to protect, and we want you to get out from under what is often a life of being like a fugitive, which is really unfair."

At a speech in Minneapolis in 1996, Giuliani defended Koch's executive order, that, in his words "protects undocumented immigrants in New York City from being reported to the INS while they are using city services that are critical for their health and safety, and for the health and safety of the entire city."

"There are times when undocumented immigrants must have a substantial degree of protection," Giuliani said.

YouTube even has a video of Rudy Giuliani defending those policies, found here.

Giuliani went as far as to take this issue to court, lost, then worked his way around the law in order to protect illegal immigrants.

Mike Huckabee, according to Washington Times, supports in-state tuition for illegal aliens and refuses to take a definitive position on making illegals eligible for federally subsidized Pell Grants or student loans. Mr. Huckabee dragged his feet on signing an immigration-enforcement agreement with the federal Department of Homeland Security, which would have allowed state police to arrest illegals

Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) reports that Mike Huckabee had made comments complaining about an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on local chicken plants, which resulted in the arrest of 119 illegal aliens.

The President of ALIPAC, William Gheen , stated at the time "Governor Huckabee is known nationally as an illegal alien’s best friend!"

In looking at where Huckabee stands and has stood on the issues, I went to "On the issues", Mike Huckabee on Immigration and I am listing votes that concern me and most likely will concern Iowa voters that are focusing on the illegal immigration issue:

FactCheck: Yes, supported scholarships for AR illegal aliens. (Dec 2007)
FactCheck: AR college bill accepted illegals after 3 years. (Nov 2007)
Change rule barring immigrants from running for president. (May 2007)
Path to citizenship if illegals admit guilt & pay fine. (Jan 2007)
Import farm workers from Mexico. (Sep 2001)

Mitt Romney authorized the state police to enforce immigration laws but according to FactCheck, he did so on Dec. 13 of that year. Romney was scheduled to leave office Jan. 4, 2007, fulling knowing that Democrat Deval Patrick, who had won the race to succeed Romney planned on rescinding that agreement which he did within his first week in office.

During Romney's tenure at least four Massachusetts cities enacted or renewed legislation declaring themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.

FactCheck could find no evidence that Romney attempted to penalize, censure, or cut funding to them.

Romney also considered the immigration reform bill which was defeated "reasonable" and criticized those that stood up against the amnesty bill.

Fred Thompson voted, in 1996, voted for the Immigration Control and Fiscal Responsibility Act, an omnibus immigration bill that contained far-reaching provisions aimed at reducing illegal immigration, including additional border-patrol agents and equipment, worksite verification programs and a 10-year ban on legal re-entry for illegal aliens.

You can listen to what Thompson has to say about illegal immigration for yourself to make your decision, over on YouTube (2:42 minute video)

Back to the Washington Times article regarding Thompson, this year on illegal immigration, they say:

This year, however, Mr. Thompson has put forward the most comprehensive plan of any major candidate for securing the border and cracking down on illegal immigration. It includes plans to target smugglers and gangs, to cut off discretionary federal grants to sanctuary cities and to deny federal education grants to states that provide in-state tuition in violation of federal law. Mr. Thompson's goal is to force illegals to leave the country by removing the employment magnet and increasing the chances of being arrested and deported.

Ron Paul is against Illegal immigration but has stated he doesn't think a border fence is important (Jun 2007), but did vote for the fence along the Mexican border.

According to the RCP averages from Zogby, Strategic Vision, Des Moines Register and CNN polls, Giuliani and Paul are both still in single digits in Iowa with Huckabee, Romney, McCain nd Thompson all in double digits.

On the Democratic side, no one is strong on illegal immigration, Hillary Clinton, (analysis found here at bottom of page) in both 2006 and 2007, voted to cut off Senate debate and pass mass-amnesty bills.

Hillary on the issues shows: (Scroll down to Hillary Clinton on Immigration):

Anti-immigrant bill would have criminalized Jesus Christ. (Sep 2007)
Sanctuary cities ok; local police can't enforce immigration. (Sep 2007)
Opposes illegal immigration, but doesn't vote to follow up. (Jun 2007)
Making English official imperils crises needing translators. (Jun 2007)
Comprehensive reform to get 12 million out of shadows. (Apr 2007) ---- Translation, amnesty.
Keep New York-Ontario border passport-free for tourism. (Oct 2006)
Voted NO on declaring English as the official language of the US government. (Jun 2007)
Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security. (May 2006)
Voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship. (May 2006)
Rated 8% by USBC, indicating an open-border stance. (Dec 2006)

Barack Obama (Scroll down to Barack Obama on Immigration)

Support granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. (Nov 2007)
Illegal immigrants' lack of ID is a public safety concern. (Oct 2007)
Give immigrants who are here a rigorous path to citizenship. (Jun 2007)
Voted NO on declaring English as the official language of the US government. (Jun 2007)
Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security. (May 2006)
Voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship. (May 2006)
Rated 8% by USBC, indicating an open-border stance. (Dec 2006)

John Edwards (Scroll down to John Edwards on Immigration)

End immigrant raids that separate parents from children. (Dec 2007)
Undocumented workers deserve same rights as American workers. (Sep 2007)
Roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. (Jan 2004)
Welcome immigrants with earned legalization program. (Jan 2004)

Joe Biden (Scroll down to Joe Biden on Immigration)

It's impractical to deport 14 million illegal immigrants. (Jun 2007)
Voted NO on declaring English as the official language of the US government. (Jun 2007)
Voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship. (May 2006)
Rated 8% by USBC, indicating an open-border stance. (Dec 2006)

Bill Richardson (Scroll down to Bill Richardson on Immigration)

Allowed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. (Nov 2007)
Driver's license for illegals helps public safety. (Nov 2007)
Increase H-1B visas to permit more skilled workers. (Sep 2007)
Border wall is horrendous example of misguided policy. (Sep 2007)
Federal raids are ineffective; we dehumanize immigrants. (Sep 2007)
Sanctuary cities ok until we have comprehensive policy. (Sep 2007)
McCain-Kennedy bill is not amnesty; it has strong standards. (Jun 2007)
A wall on Mexican border is not America. (Jun 2007)
Opposes compromise immigration bill: it tears apart families. (May 2007)
Driver's licenses & scholarships for illegals; not amnesty. (May 2007)
Legalization plan, not this stupid wall being proposed. (Mar 2007)

(Side Note: Not one Democrat voted against the Immigration reform bill that would have granted amnesty to 12 million illegal aliens.)

My predictions for the Iowa GOP Caucuses(which could be way off--lol)


1. Romney
2. Thompson
3. Huckabee
4. McCain

That is what I predict, but I think, from the records alone, it "should" be:

1. Thompson
2. McCain
3. Romney
4. Huckabee

My predictions for the Iowa Democratic Caucuses:

1. Clinton
2. Obama
3. Edwards
4. Biden

Again, that is what I predict but I think it "should" be:

1. Obama
2. Edwards
3. Clinton
4. Biden

I will be blogging as the caucuses go on tomorrow and updating as news comes in.

[Update] A list of who is predicting what can be found at Election Projection 2008 Edition.