October 20, 2003
Twenty Million Derbs? Nope.
John Derbyshire writes that if a well funded third party candidate seriously addressed immigration, "and should that candidate's campaign not be derailed by the machinations of his opponents or the media, or by some gross blunder of his own, he will get at least 20 million votes next November -- more than Ross Perot got in 1992."
To which I say: Um... no.
In a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of 900 registered voters conducted May 6-7, 2003, only 1% of those surveyed cited immigration as one of the two most important issues for the federal government to address. (This was the most recent most-important-issue poll I could find where immigration even registered; I got it out of Lexis, so no link).
Extrapolating from the 2000 registration figures, this means that there's a constituency of about 1.5 million for whom immigration reform is a top priority; if 2000 turnout patterns hold, and assuming immigration hawks do not differ significantly from the general population, about 1 million of those would actually vote.
By contrast, in an October 1991 Gallup poll (albeit not one limited to registered voters), 14% cited the Federal budget deficit, one of Ross Perot's signature issues, as the most important issue facing the country. (No link-- Lexis again.)
It would seem the Derb has fallen for the "I am the world" fallacy. He isn't the first.