Why Did Measure 88 Lose So Badly?

A new report blames national "Tea Party nativists."

This month's election results suggest Oregon remains a blue oasis in a red political tide. So how to explain voters overwhelmingly rejecting Measure 88, which would have given drivers cards to undocumented immigrants?

Salem political insiders had warned for months the measure was doomed to a landslide defeat—because the measure's ballot title said it would give drivers cards "without requiring proof of legal presence." Those words were widely considered toxic to voters.

A left-wing activist group called the Institute for Research & Education of Human Rights has another explanation for Measure 88's failure. It says the rebellion against Measure 88 is the latest example of "Tea Party nativism."

In a Nov. 13 report, Devin Burghart argues that national extremist groups targeted Oregon as a test case that could tip national opinion against immigrant rights.

"The Oregon campaign was not only part of a strategy to block all pro-immigrant legislation at the state and local level, it was part of a well-worn strategy of using state victories to change the national conversation in a more nativist direction," Burghart writes. "Given the history of anti-immigrant ballot measures tilting the national conversation, the nativist victory in Oregon does not augur well for immigration reform in the near term."

WW took a closer look last month at Cynthia Kendoll, who leads Oregonians for Immigration Reform and spearheaded the fight against Measure 88.

This week's analysis by IREHR takes a close look at the right-wing money that supported the campaign against Measure 88, and the long history many of its opponents have of fighting against immigration.

It emphasizes the ties of Kendoll and other anti-immigration activists to organizations that have been labeled hate groups. It also notes how the donations of reclusive Nevada billionaire Loren Parks helped send Measure 88 to a public vote.

But the report doesn't make a convincing case that Oregon's vote was a result of out-of-state forces.

Measure 88 lost by a margin of 66.1 percent to 33.9 percent. Voters overwhelmingly rejected it even though the "yes" campaign raised $608,461 to the "no" campaign's $55,732—a more than 10-to-1 advantage.

WW has asked Kendoll for comment, but has not yet received a reply.

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