A political scientist says the Obama administration’s decision to sue Arizona over immigration policy isn’t likely to make Democratic politicians very happy, but the issue is unlikely to be a major consideration as voters in Wisconsin go to the polls this fall. “Immigration is down the list in terms of voter priorities here,” says UW Madison professor Barry Burden. “At the top of the list are more immediate bread and butter kinds of issues. Jobs is number one. I think taxes, education, infrastructure, the budget deficit and other priorities are going to come first.
But Wisconsin politicians can get burned by the contentious issue, as Republican candidate for governor Scott Walker already learned. “As you may recall, he was asked what he thought of the Arizona bill once it was passed, and his comment was that he was concerned that it may lead to targeting of people based on race or ethnicity, rather than a traditional Republican position of being concerned about security or wanting to crack down on crime or other kinds of issues,” notes Burden. Walker later clarified that response and supported the Arizona law.
Generally speaking, Burden says the administration’s decision to likely hasn’t earned many fans among Democrats seeking reelection. “I think many of them would prefer not to talk about immigration until after the election,” he says. “In part because it divides their constituencies, but also just because there are other more pressing things they’d rather be addressing. Jobs, energy, education, the oil spill, Afghanistan and so on. This really just complicates their message if nothing else.”