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Can Congress reconcile major immigration differences?

The shutdown resolution clears the way for immigration talks in Congress, but actually striking a deal might not be so easy. Judy Woodruff talks with Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Stu Rothenberg of Inside Elections about the stark differences in immigration priorities, new poll numbers and what they could mean for the 2018 midterm election.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Saturday marked one year of the Trump presidency. The shutdown punctuated an administration consistently facing controversy, often sparked by the president himself.

    A perfect time for Politics Monday to shed light on the road ahead, with Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Stu Rothenberg. He’s editor of Inside Elections and a contributor to Roll Call.

    So, happy Monday, Politics Monday, to both of you. I started to say shutdown Monday, but it looks like, Amy, it’s coming to an end.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, all right, it lasted over the weekend. Clear political — we know there are some substantive winners here. The country comes out of this better because they resolved it, but, politically, winners, losers?

  • Amy Walter:

    I think it’s really hard to say that this is going to have much of an impact.

    I doubt that we’re going to come back in November, Judy, when we’re sitting here on election night and saying, you know what turned the tide in this election? It was that three-day government shutdown. That changed the contours of the entire race, of the entire election year.

    But I do think that it has really turned the focus now. It’s going to be a substantive focus for 2018, which is this DACA issue, which is certainly not going to go away. Even if they  do — they agreed to have a vote, I think the contours of what that looks like are far from certain. And that is going to have a bigger longer-term implication.

    I think the Democrats are also learning the hard way what Republicans had to learn the hard way back when they were in the minority. When you’re in the minority, you have very little leverage. Your base wants you to do a lot, and you feel like you need to show that you’re fighting against the other party. But, at the end of the day, you have very little leverage.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You see winners, losers enduring here?

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    I think this shutdown will have the same impact that the shutdown in 2013 had, which was zilch, when it comes to the midterms.

    Judy, I think we know that the president will be active over the next 10 months, make plenty of controversies, whether it’s DACA or the wall or questions about infrastructure or North Korea. There’s going to be a lot of things happening.

    So, I think, when we look back, this will be a hiccup, an asterisk.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, Amy, you’re already pointing out what we were going to talk about, which is immigration. We know it is going to be a factor in these races this year, but you were saying the contours aren’t clear.

    Is it really — we really don’t know how this helping young immigrants issue is going to play out or not?

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes, I don’t think either side really knows what it’s willing to compromise on, what it’s willing to sacrifice, what it’s willing to say yes to.

    We know what some of the challenges are within the Republican Conference. You have already seen the White House and Lindsey Graham kind of spar with each other today over what kind of bill that the White House wants versus what Senator Lindsey Graham wants to see.

    We know that, in 2013, enough Republicans worked with Democrats to support a comprehensive immigration bill in the Senate, but we also know that the House Republicans are much more conservative. They’re never going to go along with something that could get enough Democratic votes in the Senate.

    And then for the Democrats, there’s a lot of focus just simply on the DACA plan, but we have already seen that they moved a little bit on whether they would fund a border wall. Remember, earlier in 2017, it’s no money for a wall. Now they’re saying, we will give you a little bit of a wall.

    But what else are they willing to compromise on to be able to say, we protected this group of…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we’re hearing now — we heard from the White House affairs director the president is willing to talk about citizenship for these young immigrants.

    But, Stu, I want to broaden this out to these midterm elections. There are already a lot of polls out there, several done just in the last week or so, asking people whether they’d rather see Democrats or Republicans take control of the Congress.

    ABC/Washington Post has a 12-percent spread, the Democrats 51 percent to 39. NBC/Wall Street Journal, just a six-point spread, but still an advantage for the Democrats.

    What do we read into this at this point?

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    Well, this is so-called generic ballot question. And it tries to get a sense on which direction the public is going in a partisan way, leaving out the names of the members of Congress, forgetting about your congressional district, who’s running, who is the incumbent, just who do you want to see elected, Republicans or Democrats.

    And so we have Democrats with a significant advantage. But the difference — the devil is in the difference in this case. It’s not unusual that the president’s party runs at a disadvantage in midterm elections.

    But the differences is, in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal, the margin is six. In the ABC News/Washington Post, as the graphic we put up, showed 12. That’s a huge difference. If it’s 12 points on election night, it’s likely the Democrats will take the House of Representatives. If it’s six points on election night, it’s much less certain. And we would have to look much more district by district.

    And I think the Democrats might even fall short at plus-six. So, we know the direction of the electorate right now. And we will see how that changes over the next 10 months and whether people increasingly look to the Democrats as a way of stopping the president or sending a message of dissatisfaction to the president or not.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    How do you read this?

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes. And that’s really — once you get under these numbers — I think Stu set it up perfectly — getting under the numbers too ask people, how enthusiastic are you about voting? Are you really interested, not in just casting whether you’re going to vote D or R, but actually showing up at the polls?

    And what you’re seeing in the ABC/Washington Post poll found that people who said that they were likely to vote, even bigger percent advantage for Republicans.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    For Democrats.

  • Amy Walter:

    For Democrats. I’m sorry.

    People who said that they were extremely enthusiastic about voting, basically, I will walk over glass if that’s what I have to do to vote, Democrats with a 15-point advantage.

    And you’re starting to see this. Even in the CNN poll that had a small Democratic advantage like that NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, when they asked people on their level of enthusiasm for voting, Democrats went from a five-point advantage to a 15-point advantage.

    We have seen this. Stu and I were talking…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    And we have seen it in state legislative elections, the Virginia governor’s race, yes.

    The only caveat is that events between now and November will either add to enthusiasm in one party or the other or subtract from it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But these polls will give us ideas, and they will be done repeatedly throughout the year.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    Well, it’s like a puzzle, Judy. You have got to look at a number of questions. Then you have to look at actual elections.

    And then I think you will get a sense on which way the cycle is going.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, it’s January the 22nd. We have a whole 10 months to figure it out completely.

    Thank you both very much, Stu Rothenberg, Amy Walter, Politics Monday.

  • Amy Walter:

    You’re welcome.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    Thank you.

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