[T]he political stakes are largely in the symbolism of the bill. Whichever party is seen as supporting reform will gain a huge vote share among Hispanics, and the opponents will lose accordingly.
And remember, if it's all about the symbolism, then it's not enough for Lott and fellow Republicans like Lindsey Graham to push the semi-amnesty bill through. They have to push the bill through loudly, histrionically, while denouncing the opposition as anti-Latino--to make sure Hispanics know that the GOPs were their champions in 2007. It would be a shame to suck up to Latinos and then have the Democrats get all the credit (as Dems got all the credit with blacks after the Civil Rights Act of 1964--even though, Morris notes, "Republicans backed the bill in far greater numbers than Democrats did"). I think this helps explain Lott and Graham's recent obnoxious put-downs of their opponents. [How did comparing Mexicans to electrified goats help Lott win over generations of Latinos?--ed That was off-message.] 6:47 P.M.
Hard Count: Mark Krikorian has the Numbers USA vote count. Basically, opponents need 40 Senators to either vote "no" on cloture or to be absent. (Proponents need to reach 60 actual "yes" votes, in other words--60% of 96 senators won't do.)
The opponents now have 33, by Krikorian's count. They need eight more:
The following 12 senators are leaning against the bill itself but so far are leaning toward the cloture motion — which means, in reality, that they would be helping pass the amnesty, because if the bill comes to a final vote, it will pass. These are the Senators whose decisions will likely determine whether the amnesty passes or not: Bond (R-Mo.), Bingaman (D-N.M.), Burr (R-N.C.), Boxer (D-Calif.), Cochran (R-Miss.), Conrad (D-N.D.), Ensign (R-Nev.), Levin (D-Mich.), Gregg (R-N.H.), Nelson (D-Neb.), Hatch (R-Utah), Webb (D-Va.).
Close! And a bit more difficult than I'd thought--I wouldn't want to be in the position of relying on Barbara Boxer to torpedo the bill. ... But don't forget Sherrod Brown. There may be hope for Sherrod Brown. ... And what about Norm Coleman? ... There's also the mysterious Dr. Barrasso. [ Update ]... P.S.: Isn't it also possible that, given the bill's unpopularity, some Senators who would vote for cloture in the crunch are nevertheless whispering in the leadership's ear that they wouldn't mind if this whole thing somehow went away? ... 5:12 P.M. link
Drama we're not seeing: U.S. News--
"This week will basically be the last chance to pass immigration reform in this administration," says one activist, "and the administration is using every card they've got."
Sen. Cornyn: "We'll find out on Tuesday if there's 60 senators ... It really changes minute by minute.'' 1:26 P.M.
P.O.S. Update: The first cloture vote has been postponed until Tuesday. ... Alexander and Corker come out against, but Burr wavers and dickers. ... Noam Askew hears Sherrod Brown is finally getting Dobbsy and might now be in play (he was previously counted as a "yes"). ... . There's a new Wyoming senator to lobby. (Don't get his back up!) ... P.S.: Between Hawkins and Askew, and The Corner, you'll get better coverage of the ongoing immigration bill intrigue than in the big MSM dailies or even Capitol Hill specialist publications. (The Hill now seems to be falling down on the job.) ...
Upshot: It looks as if "comprehensive" supporters ran into some difficulties--e.g., public opinon--but unfortunately those problems may not be insurmountable. Republicans are realizing that if Harry Reid can run the Senate like the House on this issue--with debate limited to the amendments the leadership wants discussed, and that amendment-picking power used to obtain cloture--then he can run the Senate like the House on other issues as well. (Not that there's anything wrong with that! Except when the leadership is pushing a bad bill, as in this case.)