Virginia Republican Congressman Virgil Goode's narrow loss to Democrat Tom Perriello became official last week, and it caps another bad showing for immigration restrictionists. For the second straight election, incumbent Republicans who attempted to turn illegal immigration into a wedge issue fared poorly.
Anti-immigration hardliners Randy Graf, John Hostettler and J.D. Hayworth were among the Republicans who lost in 2006. Joining them this year were GOP Representatives Thelma Drake (Virginia), Tom Feeney (Florida), Ric Keller (Florida) and Robin Hayes (North Carolina) -- all Members of a House anti-immigration caucus that focuses on demonizing the undocumented.
Rep. Goode was one of the most vocal foes of immigrants: The 12-year incumbent advocated mass deportations and amending the Constitution to deny U.S. citizenship to children of undocumented residents.
The anti-immigrant movement may have suffered a double defeat in 2008. Not only did immigrant scapegoating not elect its purveyors -- it may have also inflicted long-term damage on Republican political prospects by alienating the growing Latino vote. As the WSJ observes:
[E]xit polls showed that the Republican share of the Hispanic vote fell to 31% this year from more than 40% in 2004. The demographic reality is that the GOP can't win national elections while losing such a large share of the fastest-growing ethnic minority in the country.