LATINO VOICES
07/08/2013 03:47 pm ET

Ann Coulter's Bad Immigration Math

Wrong Things Ann Coulter Keeps Saying

Someone get this pundit a calculator.

Rightwing columnist/professional “amnesty”-hater Ann Coulter continued to rail against the possibility of any immigration reform that would create a pathway to citizenship in a column published last week, using faulty math to press her case.

Arguing, as she has in the past, that Republicans should avoid trying to cultivate Hispanics because they lean Democratic, Coulter offered the following calculation:

Can I see the math on that? I can see why bringing in 30 million new Democratic voters would be good for the Democrats, but how does it help Republicans? Maybe conservatives shouldn't blindly trust the calculations of the guy who graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at the U.S. Naval Academy.

This “math” is based on a few incorrect assumptions. She presumes that every undocumented immigrant currently in the country or projected to come here over the next decade is Hispanic, will become a citizen and eligible to vote, and will proceed to vote exclusively for the Democratic Party.

Coulter doesn’t explain how she arrived at her figure, but it's unrealistically high. The total number of undocumented immigrants in the country right now stands at about 11.1 million, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation would lead to a net increase of 9.6 million people in the United States over the next 10 years. That totals 20.7 million, not 30 million.

But not all undocumented immigrants are Hispanic. Some 81 percent of immigrants residing illegally in the United States come from Latin America, according to the Pew. The CBO doesn't specify where the 9.6 million new U.S. residents, both unauthorized and authorized, would come from, but working from the assumption that it's comparable to the figure for unauthorized immigrants, we can drop that figure still further to 16.8 million.

Not all of them would become citizens if the immigration reform became law, however. The proposed law specifies a 10-year-long process from legal residence to citizenship. Not everyone will go through it. Under current law, only 56 percent of legal residents become naturalized citizens with the power to vote, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. That would bring the figure down to 9.4 million, though there’s no sure way to know what naturalization rates will look like in the future.

Latinos also face a major problem with voter turnout. Only 48 percent of Hispanics voted in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau -- a much smaller figure than the number of blacks (66.2 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (64.1 percent). Even more worrisome for Hispanic voters, that low turnout figure represents a drop from 2008, when 49.9 percent of Latino voters made it to the polls. Such low turnout would once again cut the potential Latino voter impact, to about 4.5 million.

Lastly, Latinos do not vote “80 percent against Republicans,” as Coulter claims in her column. They vote differently depending on the candidate in front of them.

GOP contender Mitt Romney fielded 27 percent of the Hispanic vote last year, the worst performance for a presidential candidate since Bob Dole’s run in 1996.

But George W. Bush -- who unlike Romney spoke some Spanish and supported immigration reform -- won 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004.

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