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One Election Result Stays Steady: By Wide Margins, Americans Still Want Real Immigration Reform

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New Poll Results Show Strong Majorities Still Want National Fix to Immigration

Washington, DC – While much post-election analysis has highlighted how Latino voters were mobilized by the immigration debate and helped Democrats retain the Senate, new polling released today from Lake Research Partners on behalf of America’s Voice focus on the views of all voters toward immigration policy.  The research finds that, despite midterm election gains by conservatives and Republicans, Americans’ support for comprehensive immigration reform has actually increased and that voters of every demographic and political subgroup remain broadly and intensely in favor of a national and practical fix to the immigration system.

Conducted between October 31st and November 2, 2010 and reaching a total of 1,200 likely and registered voters nationwide, the new polling was the topic of a press conference call held this morning.  On the call, Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners, said, “Support for comprehensive immigration reform is broad based and cuts across party lines.  Ironically, Republicans are the strongest in their support of a number of these questions.  Even 63% of Tea Party supporters support comprehensive immigration reform before hearing its full description – a level of support that jumped to 82% of Tea Party supporters after they heard a full description of reform.” 

Looking toward the impending session of Congress and beyond, Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said, “The American people are out in front of the politicians on this issue.  There’s a vocal and visible anti-immigrant minority that makes some politicians believe they speak for the majority. As this polling makes clear, they don’t.  In fact, strong majorities support comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act and oppose mass deportation.”

David Mermin, Partner at Lake Research Partners, agreed with this assessment, saying, “Americans are practical on immigration issues.  Seventy-six percent of Americans, across all demographic groups, believe it is unrealistic to try and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants – that is not a viable solution in the minds of voters.   Instead, Americans support comprehensive immigration reform as a practical solution, even among a cranky electorate this year.  Republican leaders thinking they have a  mandate to pursue enforcement-only approaches are really mistaken.” 

The key results from the polling include the following:  

  • Despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, voters still strongly support comprehensive immigration reform.  With conservatives and Republicans making large gains in the midterm elections, many have made the mistake of assuming voters have turned against comprehensive immigration reform.  In fact, those who voted in the election this week support comprehensive reform at the highest rate we have yet seen—and Republicans are among the strongest supporters. 
  • Support for comprehensive immigration reform is broad-based and crosses party lines.  When we simply ask voters whether they support or oppose comprehensive immigration reform without describing it, 67% support it (55% strongly support).  However, provided with a description, support jumps to 81%, with 68% strongly in support.  Republicans are actually the most intense supporters, with fully 72% strongly supporting comprehensive reform.
  • Voters prioritize passing comprehensive immigration reform that includes border security above border security alone, and they believe deporting 11 million illegal immigrants is unrealistic.  When we ask whether the federal priority should be securing the country’s borders, passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation, or doing both at the same time, 56% believe both should be done at the same time. Additionally, 76% (62% strongly) agree with the statement that “deporting all 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States is unrealistic.”
  • The DREAM Act enjoys strong support across party lines.  After hearing a brief description, sixty-six percent of voters support the DREAM Act, including majorities of Democrats (81%), independents (60%), and Republicans (57%).  
  • A majority of voters believes that immigration is a national issue that should be left up to the federal government rather than left to the states.  Fifty-six percent of voters believe that immigration is best dealt with at the federal level, compared to only 20% who believe it should be dealt with by states and 19% who believe it is both a federal and state issue. 
  • The economy, not immigration, was the deciding issue in this election. While many candidates tried to use immigration to attack opponents, their efforts were mostly wasted. For one, voters overwhelmingly support comprehensive immigration reform.  Secondly, immigration was not a top issue for the vast majority of voters.  Immigration was the most important issue for only 2% of voters overall, including 1% of independents and 3% of Republicans. By contrast, the economy was the top issue for 27%, followed by jobs at 15%. 

Added Sharry, “Congress should pass the DREAM Act before the end of the year. There’s strong public support and it’s teed up.  Going forward, the nation is likely to be presented with a stark choice: the mass expulsion of millions of undocumented immigrants currently settled in the United States, a strategy expected to be aggressively pursued by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), or comprehensive immigration reform that combines smart enforcement and earned citizenship as favored by most Democrats.  If Republicans follow the path of Smith and King, they risk losing a chance to win back the White House.  If Democrats stand up and fight for immigration reform, they will strengthen their hand with moderates, independents, and Latino voters alike.”    

  1. Access to full polling results.

  2. Access to audio recording of press call.

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.