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New America’s Voice Polling Memo: Two Keys to Understanding Public Opinion on Immigration Reform and Republicans

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In a new memo, America’s Voice reviews available district-specific and Republican-only polling.  The two key points:

1)      In district-specific polling of Republican-held congressional seats, immigration reform is very popular.  

Available district-specific immigration polling, conducted in the past year by both Democratic and Republican-affiliated pollsters in 25 different Republican-held districts, shows consistent and broad public support for immigration reform.  While results vary according to the district, generally speaking Democrats favor reform by more than a 4-1 margin and Republicans favor it by more than a 3-1 margin.  Notably, both likely voters and self-identified Republican likely voters support a path to earned legalization and citizenship as part of a broader immigration fix.  In every district polled, citizenship topped other policy alternatives.

District-specific polls were conducted in the past year by Public Policy Polling (PPP), Magellan Strategies, and the Tarrance Group in the following districts: CA-10 (Denham); CA-21 (Valadao); CA-22 (Nunes); CA-23 (McCarthy); CA-25 (McKeon); CA-31 (Miller); CA-49 (Issa); CO-03 (Tipton); CO-04 (Gardner); CO-06 (Coffman); FL-10 (Webster); FL-15 (Ross); IA-04 (King); IL-13 (Davis); MN-02 (Kline); NJ-02 (LoBiondo); NV-02 (Amodei); NV-03 (Heck); NY-02 (King); NY-11 (Grimm); NY-19 (Gibson); OH-14 (Joyce); PA-08 (Fitzpatrick); TX-02 (Poe); TX-27 (Farenthold).  Specific polling questions, results, and sourcing for district-specific polling available in a detailed table at the end of the memo.

In addition to the district-specific polling results, several polls of aggregated congressional district polling assess immigration sentiment in a broader number of competitive House districts.  Among Latino voters and all likely voters in these aggregated congressional battleground polls, support is overwhelming on behalf of an immigration reform package that includes a path to citizenship.

2)      The fear that Republican primary voters don’t support immigration reform is overstated.

The conventional political wisdom holds that Republican voters are either opposed to immigration reform or deeply divided.  This is not borne out by public opinion research.  Whether examining immigration in the 2012 presidential primary season or Republican-specific polling conducted during 2013, Republican voters are more open and supportive of immigration reform – including reform with legalization and citizenship provisions – than the punditry tends to assume.

Notably, as the pollsters at the Public Religion Research Institute recently assessed, “survey questions that make no mention of requirements immigrants living in the country illegally must meet produce lower support for a path to citizenship than questions that do mention requirements,” particularly among Republican respondents.  Conversely, when voters are given the specifics of how immigrants might earn legal status and citizenship, support goes up.

As conservative Republican pollster and consultant Jon Lerner said:

There are around 20 percent of GOP primary voters who oppose most forms of immigration reform.  This minority tends to be vocal, but their level of activism should not be confused with the size of their numbers.  The large majority of primary voters see a badly broken immigration system and want it fixed.

Read the new America’s Voice memo: “Two Keys to Understanding Public Opinion on Immigration Reform and Republicans