Partisan Fallout Of Immigration—- CountyLevel Analysis : GOP Vote Share Drops As Foreign-Born % Grows

Partisan Fallout of Immigration
County-Level Analysis: GOP Vote Share Drops as Foreign-Born % Grows

Contact: Bryan Griffith, (202) 466-8185,
Center For Immigration Studies
February 19, 2010

WASHINGTON What are the likely partisan consequences of continued mass immigration? Those on the left see it as benefiting them; union leader Eliseo Medina recently told a gathering that immigr ation, 'will create a governing coalition for the long term not just for an election cycle.' At the same time, some on the right claim that immigrants are natural Republican voters, given their relative conservatism on certain social issues. Which view is correct?

To shed some light on this question, the Center for Immigration Studies is releasing a new report, 'Immigration, Political Realignment, and the Demise of Republican Political Prospects' by James G. Gimpel. Gimpel, a professor of government at the University of Maryland, College Park, and co-author of The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, examined the Republican share of the vote and the foreign-born share of the population over three decades in all 3,000-plus counties in the United States.

Among the findings:
The electoral impact of immigration has been greatest in counties with large populations, where most immigrants settle. In these locations, Republicans have lost 0.58 percentage points in presidential elections for every one percentage-point increase in the size of the local immigrant population. On average the immigrant share has increased 9.5 percent in these counties.

In counties of at least 50,000, where the immigrant share increased by at least two percentage points from 1980 to 2008, 62 percent saw a decline in the Republican percentage. In counties with at least a four percentage-point increase, 74 percent saw a decline in the GOP vote. In counties with at least a six percentage-point gain in the immigrant share, 83 percent saw a decline in the GOP vote share.

Republicans have remained competitive in presidential elections because losses in high-immigration counties have been offset by steady gains in low-immigration counties.

Even in Texas and Florida, often thought to be an exception, the rising immigrant population across counties is associated with sharply diminished support for Republican candidates.

In Texas, for example, the estimate shows that for every 1 percentage-point increase in the immigrant population in a county, the Republican vote share dropped by 0.67 percentage points, which is more than the decline nationally association with immigration.

The decline does not seem to be associated with the local Republican Partys position on illegal immigration.

The report is online at

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The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research organization that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.