New Poll Confirms Two Basic Truths about the Politics of Immigration

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC/Telemundo poll of both Latinos and general voters confirms two fundamental truths about the politics of immigration: 1) Latino voters see this issue as very important; 2) other voters are far less focused on it, but far more open to practical solutions that some politicians believe.

When Latino voters were asked “Using a short phrase or sentence, if you could tell the candidates running for president one thing, what would you tell them” in an open-ended question, “immigration reform” was the second most popular response, coming in just below “fix the economy.”  When asked whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would do a better job “dealing with immigration,” 55% said Obama and only 16% chose Romney.

While this poll confirms once again that immigration is not the top issue for non-Latinos, overall voters are far more pragmatic on it then anti-immigration activists claim.  On the same open-ended question, immigration reform ranked third from the bottom for general voters, and on the question about would do a better job dealing with immigration, 38% of non-Latinos said Obama, while 36% said Romney.

These findings are wholly consistent with other recent polling:

  • Immigration is a Motivating Issue for Latinos. A five-state battleground survey in June from Latino Decisions and America’s Voice confirms that Latinos continue to view immigration as an important and motivating issue.  Across all five states (AZ, CO, FL, NV, VA), immigration was the second most important issue Latino voters want the President and Congress to address (44%), just following a combined jobs and the economy response (54%).  InArizona andVirginia, immigration was the top issue.  Latino voter enthusiasm about the elections generally shot up following President Obama’s DREAMer announcement.  Obama gained and Romney lost 10 points on the ballot.  Sixty-seven percent of Latino voters said that President Obama’s new policy to protect DREAMer from deportation has made them more enthusiastic about voting for him in November, while 59% said that Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” stance has made them less enthusiastic about him.
  • Latinos Think Obama will do a Better Job on Immigration Reform. A Latino Decisions poll released this week, commissioned by the Center for American Progress Action Fund andAmerica’s Voice, found that 63% of Latino voters think Obama would do a better job handling immigration reform that Romney, who was backed by only 19%.
  • Non-Latinos Are Not As Focused on Immigration, But Most Favor Practical Solutions. New analysis of non-Latino polling by America’s Voice released this week proves this new paradigm on immigration.  When asked who would do a better job handling immigration in numerous recent polls, Obama leads or ties Romney, including among Independents.  Anti-immigrant activists would have you believe that their position and their candidate is blowing Obama out of the water on this issue, but that’s just not the case. 

In fact, in polls that ask about voter support for different immigration reform options, the Obama-backed policy wins a majority of voters every time.  Pew Research Center polls show that strong majorities of Americans have supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants–either alone or combined with enforcement—for years, and that citizenship fares far better than enforcement alone.  When asked specifically about the new Obama DREAMer policy, voters (including independents) are also supportive, as evidenced by a Qunnipiac poll taken soon after the President’s announcement, as well as others.

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice, “This is the new paradigm of immigration politics.  President Obama continues to poll well with Latino voters because he’s leaning into the issue.  Mitt Romney, tethered so far to the right, trails far behind him, and independents continue to show that they support pragmatic solutions but aren’t particularly motivated one way or the other by the issue.  Because of his restrictionist immigration policies and dismal Latino numbers, Romney has a lot of work to do if he wants to emerge victorious in November.  When it comes to immigration, he chose the wrong segment of the Republican Party to cozy up to in the primary, and it’s clearly hurting him in the general election.”


Source: America’s Voice 

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