There are a few camps on the immigration issue: Tom Tancredo leads the nativists, who basically believe that immigrants are bad for the U.S., and probably bad people, too. He won't win the presidency, but he's planning to run as a gadfly. This is a bi-partisan issue, and the fact that he's a Republican has to make Democrats sleep sounder. While Tancredo is raising havoc in Republican primary circles, the Democrats can rise above it by talking about issues they prefer.
A less bilous but equally uncompromising group are labor protectionists, who want to keep the American economy in "American" hands. As an economist, I think they're tilting at windmills, but there's potentially a lot of votes here, especially on the right. I can't identify any candidates who are publically staking this position, but if it plays well in 2006, look for someone to pick up the banner of protectionism in 2008.
President Bush has taken the high road on immigration. I think his guest-worker idea is misguided, but it's better than just building fences. This stance is one of the reasons centrists like McCain have been more comfortable identifying with the president. Bush's fluency in this issue highlights the advantage that southern-border candidates will have in this election, in credibility if not expertise. Look for Richardson, McCain, Jeb Bush and Reid (if he runs) to try and remind voters that they know how to deal with this.
The other extreme is the inclusivists (for lack of a better name); liberals who are wary of any security program and see no reason to limit immigration. Hillary seems to be on the record here, and Feinstein and other liberals can be expected to take this side. However, there aren't many new votes for them to gain by making it an issue.
Ultimately, we don't have a good gauge yet of how immigration will affect 2006, let alone 2008. For now, we have to wait and see, and hope nobody does anything too extreme.
In other news, John McCain has gotten serious and gotten good advice: he's campaigning in Iowa, and aligning himself with solid Republicans in an effort to make a serious primary run.
The monthly prediction reflects Rice's continued insistance that she will not run for president. If you want to run, it's good to deflect, bad to deny.
Feb '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Rice.
Mar '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Rice.
Apr '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney.
This month's Chatter Rankings are the most volatile so far. Some is just a function of the news: Romney's health care bill and Frist's immigration bill. But we're also seeing a general increase in chatter. Candidates are hiring consultants, making visits, and getting into the public eye. Three candidates who didn't make the list last month just jumped on, and there are more in the wings who might join them.
*** NEW!!! Check out graphs of the Chatter Rankings since May 2005 ***
|R.1||Sen. John McCain||2,280||0|
|R.2||Sen. Bill Frist||1,960||+2|
|R.3||Gov. Mitt Romney||1,700||+3|
|R.4||Secy. Condoleezza Rice||598||-3|
|R.5||Sen. George Allen||573||+2|
|R.6||Rep. Tom Tancredo||433||+7 (new)|
|R.7||Sen. Chuck Hagel||432||+1|
|R.9||Sen. Sam Brownback||352||+1|
|R.10||Gov. Jeb Bush||267||+1|
|R.12||Gov. George Pataki||233||-9|
|R.13||Gov. Mike Huckabee||180||-4|
|D.1||Sen. Hillary Clinton||1,740||0|
|D.2||Sen. Russ Feingold||1,360||+7|
|D.3||Sen. John Kerry||989||-1|
|D.4||Sen. Harry Reid||781||+6|
|D.5||Sen. Joseph Biden||483||+6|
|D.6||Gov. Bill Richardson||466||+2|
|D.8||Sen. Barack Obama||356||+5|
|D.9||Gov. Mark Warner||344||-4|
|D.10||Wesley Clark||301||+4 (new)|
|D.12||Sen. John Edwards||264||-5|
|D.13||Tom Daschle||175||+2 (new)|
|D.14||Gov. Tom Vilsack||169||-2|
|D.15||Sen. Evan Bayh||85||-9|
Notes: The Chatter Rankings are created by searching each candidate's name plus "2008" in the Google News database. This month's tested-but-not-qualifying list is Rep. John Murtha, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Haley Barbour and moonbat Daniel Imperato. Tom Tancredo, Wesley Clark and Tom Daschle were tested-but-not-qualifying last month. Some of the folks on the list almost surely won't run for president (Reid, Jeb Bush) and are there just in case, or as an indication of VP popularity.
See the Chatter Rankings from March, February, December, August, July, June, and May.