• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Poll: 51% Of Republicans, 64% Of Independents Support A Path To Citizenship For Illegal Immigrants

According to the exit polls from Tuesday’s election, there is widespread support for reform of the nation’s Immigration System, including a path to citizenship for illegals, even among people who voted for Mitt Romney:

By 65 to 28 percent, voters said most illegal immigrants working in the United States should be offered a chance to apply for legal status, rather than being deported.

While the exit poll question doesn’t tap the subtleties of the arguments for and against reform, the top line numbers — along with the 71 percent Obama got from Hispanic voters — appear to have reshuffled GOP positioning on the matter. Wide majorities of Democrats and independents want legal status, as do 51 percent of Republican voters, according to the exit poll.

This chart tells the story:

I’d be interested in seeing more rigorous polling on this issue because Exit Polls aren’t always the best guide on questions like this, but if this is true it would suggest that there would be far less political downside for Republicans in endorsing Immigration Reform than conventional wisdom, and the warnings of pundits on the hard right, would suggest. Perhaps this, combined with the absolute demographic disaster that the election represented, will be enough to goad Republicans into acting on this issue.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    Caution on that number.

    1) Legal status is not the same thing as path to citizenship–it can mean as little as a work visa.

    2) The alternative was deportation–which is such an unduly harsh measure that it may have almost forced people to opt for the legal status option.

    3) The Republican party is still dominated by its primary voters, who tend to be the most extreme elements of the party, including the wacko xenophobes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  2. Rob in CT says:

    I was going to say something along those lines too. What, exactly, is “path to citizenship?”

    I don’t think deporting millions is realistic. Yet I do want us to enforce our immigration laws, and I do not want totally unrestricted immigration. Thus, to satisfy me, the laws have to be updated such that they can be realistically enforced.

    I want there to be a reasonable, viable way for more of what are now illegal immigrants to instead immigrate legally. At the same time, I agree with the basic law & order argument that we must actually control this.

    I think we want hard-working citizens. I don’t think we want an underground of millions of laborers in extra-legal limbo.

    I’m torn on work visas. I think I get the idea here (on the grid, good), but on the other hand I’d rather have people commit to either going for citizenship, or not come here and work at all. I’m highly persuadable on that one though.

    I still think this is a sideshow compared to globalization and automation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Rob in CT says:

    Bah, mixed my terms. What exactly is legal status, rather.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. @Rob in CT:

    To me it comes down to freedom of association. If someone comes here and is peacably going about their lives, we don’t have a right to use force against them. If the government wishes to forcibly eject someone from the country, the burden should be on the state to show why they should be removed, not on the person to show why they should be allowed to stay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  5. john personna says:

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I think the Republicans’ greatest error is their absolutism. It would be really easy to be for a path to citizenship, or amnesty, or workers visas or anything else. The fine print would be that few qualify for it.

    Think back to federal refinancing of homes and all the hoopla for very few qualified borrowers. They passed bills even. Ta-da.

    Now I’m really suggesting that Republicans could be cynical here and need not be sincere. Sincerity would be great, but strictly speaking it isn’t necessary.

    … but the thing is, they have been trapped so far by absolutists who want ‘no path’, ‘no amnesty,’ and ‘no guest workers.’

    Until that changes they cannot improve their lot with the Latino vote. Not even cynically.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  6. Rob in CT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If someone comes here… wait, time out. I’m hardly a hardliner here, but the “somebody comes here” part is the issue.

    I’m all for people coming here and peacefully going about their lives. I want more legal immigration but less illegal immigration.

    On enforcement, I’d like to focus more on employers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. mattb says:

    @Rob in CT:
    National Work Visas would really solve a lot of problems, especially in the Farming Industry. A lot of the migrant workers don’t necessarily want to settle in the US permanently. And. in fact, they’re very way of life is bound to regular, cyclic migrations across multiple states during a year.

    It would bring them onto the tax roles and extend protections (including a subset of those extended to normal citizens). It also might be a way of avoiding the “born in the USA” issue (though I’m unsure about the constitutional issue there).

    It’s really a great solution, but it tends to scare a lot of people (especially those who freak out about extending limited citizens rights to non-citizens).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. mattb says:

    If the Republicans are serious about this, it’s going to be a good thing for them on the national level. And it would be an excellent first step in reestablishing a connection with portions of the Hispanic and Asian communities.

    However, this could easily backfire on the party, especially on the local level.

    The fact is that the party has invested a LOT in local anti-immigration and illegal immigrant laws. And much of that has been through tapping into existing anti-immigrant and racist sentiment within the party. And, as they did with GWB, they are going to be very vocal about any path to “amnesty.”

    If the Republicans in Congress make a run at this again and get shot down again by their base it’s going to HURT the image of the party. Even if it passes, the short term damage may be pretty ugly — there will probably be an upfront period where they loose white votes and not gain, at the same rate, minority votes.

    The person to watch for the moment IMHO is Sean Hannity. He was against immigration reform under GW. He’s now “evolved his position.” If his audience sticks with him on this issue, then a sea change is happening (and of course, thanks to call screening, he can make it appear that they are with him on this). Still, I feel for his call screeners in the months to come. I suspect they’re going to get one hell of an earful from a lot of angry people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Ben Wolf says:

    With a majority of Republicans supporting legalization of undocumented immigrants, I can only assume the priority they assign to it is low enough the party leadership believed it could be safely ignored. Now it presents Republicans with an opportunity, if they have the sense to take advantage of it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  10. mattb says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    With a majority of Republicans supporting legalization of undocumented immigrants

    I think *IF* is far better to use here than *WITH*.

    Three reasons:
    1. This is a single poll and as we know, one data point is not enough to evaluate a trend.

    2. This is an exit poll from a year where fewer Republicans turned out to the polls than in the previous election cycle. While some of that might be due to declines in the total number of shift of many conservatives towards being “independent”, signs still suggest that a lot of Republicans stayed home. I suspect that those non voters might have significant overlap with the anti-immigration side of the party.

    3. To do a bit of “unskewing” — given that “Independents” were 15% more likely to support deportation than Democrats, I suspect that much of that gap need to be attributed to Independent Conservatives (who vote Republican). If they were to be grouped in with the Republicans, support for reform easily drops to under 51%.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. superdestroyer says:

    Any Republican who votes for amnesty in the next four year is just committing political suicide. If amnesty and an increase in legal immigraton passes in the next four years, President Obama and the Democrats will receive all of the credit for it. If amnesty passes, the percentage of Hispanics that vote for the Democratic Party will go up while the percentage of whites who participate in the political process will go down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. superdestroyer says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    So you are saying that if 300 million third world residents want to come to the U.S. that it is OK. That if taxes go up and the government grow because 300 million immigrants want to come here, that is OK.

    What is in it for American citizens to have 300 million people immigrate to the U.S. What happens to the environment, to energy independence, to high paying jobs for the middle class if 300 million immigrants come to the U.S?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. David M says:

    @mattb:

    This is an exit poll from a year where fewer Republicans turned out to the polls than in the previous election cycle. While some of that might be due to declines in the total number of shift of many conservatives towards being “independent”, signs still suggest that a lot of Republicans stayed home. I suspect that those non voters might have significant overlap with the anti-immigration side of the party.

    Why do we think GOP voters stayed home? And if they did stay home, why should the GOP care about their opinions on immigration?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  14. mattb says:

    @David M:
    On the first question, turnout appears to have been up in swing states and down in “safe” states. Some of it’s due to Hurican Sandy, but it still looks like turn out in most places will be below 2008 levels. (source http://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeedpolitics/there-are-no-missing-voters)

    As to why care about people who don’t show up, I’m not sure that they can or should be dismissed. First because they can still be a “voice” in the debate. And second because while having them stay at home isn’t necessarily helping you, you don’t want them to actively show up and vote against you.

    The final point, that chart is unless unless it’s broken out by State to understand in what locality Republican support for immigration reform is clustered. I’d guess that it’s not uniformly distributed across the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. David M says:

    I’d be interested in seeing more rigorous polling on this issue because Exit Polls aren’t always the best guide on questions like this, but if this is true it would suggest that there would be far less political downside for Republicans in endorsing Immigration Reform than conventional wisdom, and the warnings of pundits on the hard right, would suggest.

    That may be true, but it doesn’t address how much support there is for Obama’s Amnesty & Reparations program that rewards criminals and gives them jobs instead of good hardworking Americans. Is there really any doubt that’s how a moderate immigration reform bill would be described if Obama supports it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Tsar Nicholas says:

    How about:

    - Illegals without criminal records get work visas and a path to green cards, but no paths towards citizenship.

    - Illegals with criminal records get deported.

    - Business receive a safe harbor amnesty period within which to register their illegal workers for work visas, but after expiration of that amnesty period, say, three years, draconian sanctions kick in for those companies who continue to employ black market labor.

    - Illegals here on the new work visas (and eventually green cards, if they stay straight) pay FICA taxes but have no claim whatsoever for Social Security or Medicare benefits.

    - Meanwhile we build a legitimate wall along the southern borner (where fencing is practicable) and we put technology and manpower assets on the ground elsewhere along the border (where fencing is not practicable).

    - We streamline the immigration court system for deportations to eliminate appeals to the lower federal courts. We have the immigration courts, administrative appeals courts and then only the SCOTUS, which of course rarely if ever will add to its own docket.

    - We increase four-fold H1-B and other important worker visa pools.

    ***
    That all aside, if that chart is correct and 42% of Republicans are not willing even to play ball on this issue then the GOP soon will be consigned to the dustbin of political history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  17. superdestroyer says:

    I thought that the pollsters did not even bother to do exist polls in many of the red states. How can anyone make sense of aggregated exit polling in all states were not polled evenly?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. PJ says:

    superdestroyer is correct. The exit polling wasn’t complete this year, they only did complete exit polls in 31 states.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. bill says:

    once everybody’s over the arizona stuff things will settle down. the crappy economy has put a dent in illegals looking here for work anyway. and on the horizon, a new George Bush (Jebs son, half Hispanic) filing for office in Texas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  20. An Interested Party says:

    once everybody’s over the arizona stuff things will settle down.

    Oh really? It is highly doubtful that everybody will ever get over the idea of having a “Papers, Please!” policy strictly for brown people…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  21. Bill says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    deportation–which is such an unduly harsh measure

    Tell me about it. My brother-in-law was deported in 2005 for being one day past his visa expiration. Now he can’t re-enter the United States till 2015.

    ICE and our consular officials abroad- Protecting the United States from Filipino musicians and Japanese wives of Marines killed in action.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  22. Whitfield says:

    I have felt that the best policy is to assimilate the illegals as quickly as possible. Most of their children already know English. Requirements: no record of violent crime or other serious felonies, no drug arrests. High school diploma, and be a taxpayer. Tighten the borders, only let the best and brightest, most skilled people in from now on. I have found the Hispanics to be hard working, with strong traditional family units, strong religious beliefs, and their children usually are well behaved.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  23. Eric Florack says:

    That path already exists.
    That the left doesn’t like that path is rather beside the point.
    That the illegals chose to bypass that legal path should in no way engender any sympathy on our part.

    What this is, clearly, is an attempt to create another block of Democrat voters.

    At least, this time, such voters are actually alive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0