Cross-posted from Center for American Progress with Latino Decisions:
With the window for immigration reform legislation in the House of Representatives rapidly closing, Latino Decision’s new polling of Latino voters conducted for the Center for American Progress Action Fund finds unequivocally that this community wants reform to happen before the 2014 midterm elections. Latino voters—part of the fastest growing demographic in the United States—are watching closely to see what the parties say and do on immigration reform, and unlike any other issue, immigration reform is a gateway to winning their support.
The results show that both parties have a lot to gain—and a lot to lose—from either passing or blocking immigration reform. With 49 percent of Latino voters stating that they have voted for a Republican candidate in the past, this is a group that could support the GOP if House Republicans move the ball forward on immigration reform. Latino voters across the board say they would be more favorable to the GOP if the party allows a vote on immigration reform, but they would also blame Republicans if reform fails. The polling puts the choice facing House Republican leadership in stark terms: pass immigration reform and have a shot at gaining ground with Latinos, or say goodbye to their votes.
“The Republicans’ tired excuses for their inaction on immigration reform will cost them dearly with Latino voters,” said Angela Maria Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “It’s game time for a bill to move. Let’s hope the House leadership has the good sense to not forfeit by failing to show up.”
Some key findings of the poll include:
- Latino voters are expecting an immigration reform bill this year. Seventy-one percent of Latino voters say it is very important or extremely important for Congress to pass immigration reform before the 2014 election. With an additional 18 percent of Latino voters saying it is somewhat important for Congress to pass the legislation this year, the poll found a total of 89 percent of Latino voters expecting action on reform this year.
- The Republican brand will be further tarnished among Latino voters if the GOP fails to move immigration reform forward. Seventy-four percent of Latino voters say they would feel much or somewhat less favorable to Republicans in Congress if House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) fails to move an immigration reform bill to a vote on the House floor. Sixty-eight percent of Latinos who have voted Republican in a past election say they would feel less favorable to Republicans under these circumstances.
- Republicans could make important inroads with Latino voters this year if they move immigration forward. If Speaker Boehner allowed an immigration reform bill to move forward for a vote this year, 53 percent of Latino voters say they would feel more favorable toward Republicans in Congress.
- Immigration reform is a gateway issue for Latino voters. Sixty-one percent of Latino voters say they would feel more favorable toward the GOP and would be willing to hear the party out on other issues if party members passed an immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship. Meanwhile, only one in four Latino voters say they would still oppose the GOP regardless of any movement on reform this year.
- If immigration reform does not happen this year, Republicans will face the most blame among Latino voters. By an almost 3-to-1 margin, Latino voters say will blame the GOP if immigration reform doesn’t happen: 49 percent of Latino voters say they will blame Republicans if immigration reform does not pass in 2014, as compared to the 16 percent who would blame Democrats.
“It’s now or never for Republicans and immigration reform. This new poll proves that immigration really is a gateway issue for Latino voters,” said Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions. “Republicans have a chance to demonstrate leadership on this issue and begin to repair their image with Latino voters. However if Speaker Boehner prevents a vote on immigration reform, the poll suggests the GOP will do even worse in 2014 and 2016 than the low for Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) in the 2012 presidential election.”
“The future of the Republican Party is at stake. What Speaker Boehner and House Republicans decide to do—or not do—on immigration reform in the coming weeks will be a key factor in determining that future,” said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice. “Immigration reform has been teed up as never before. The poll’s results are crystal clear: if the GOP enacts immigration reform, they regain their competitiveness with one of the voting groups that will determine the future of American politics. And if they don’t, with Latino voters the GOP brand will go from tarnished to finished.”