In every state, confidence in the Democrats to handle the immigration issue grows considerably and Republicans’ standing on the issue declines after voters hear the reform plan and subsequent debate. Among the notable findings:
- Comprehensive Immigration Reform Stands Up to Toughest Attacks: The plan was described as an Obama/Democratic plan and subjected to very strong Republican criticisms throughout the survey. After equal exposure to criticisms and Democratic responses, voters in these states support reform by a solid 14-point margin, with clear majority support in Colorado, Missouri, and Ohio, while Arkansas voters are evenly divided. Specifically, the comprehensive approach was subjected to a variety of Republican attacks, including:
- “Amnesty”: comprehensive reform wins over an “amnesty” attack 52%-39% overall and by 54%-37% in Colorado and 55%-32% in Ohio.
- “Border security first”: comprehensive approach preferred to “border security first” approach by a 51%-40% margin overall and by a full 20-point margin in Ohio and 17 points in Missouri.
- Legal Status is the Plan’s Strongest Provision, Not a Vulnerability: The most convincing reason to support comprehensive immigration reform, according to 51% of the respondents, is that “immigrants will be required to get legal and pay their fair share of taxes,” vs. 21% who say it “cracks down on employers” who hire undocumented workers and only 15% who like the plan because it “improves border security.”
- Democratic Plan Improves Dem. Brand Through Debate: Democrats start with a 12-percentage point deficit on “which party do you trust on immigration?” After describing reform proposals and related party positions, Democrats end with a 4-percentage point advantage – a 16-percentage point swing.