Republican Base To Republican Legislators: Oppose Path To Citizenship

As I’ve noted before, Republican Senators and Congressman find themselves being pulled in two different directions when it comes to immigration reform. On the one hand, there are national polls showing them that national voters as a whole, and Latino voters in particular, are broadly supportive of the provisions set forth in the immigration bill currently being debated in the Senate, including the so-called path to citizenship. On the other hand, they have a Republican base that it is mostly openly hostile to the very idea of immigration reform and, as a new National Journal poll shows us, especially to the idea of any bill that includes a path to citizenship:

The conservative rank-and-file have a loud and clear message for Republican officials: Support citizenship for illegal immigrants at your own peril.

A sizable plurality of registered GOP voters say they will be less likely to support their incumbent lawmaker if he or she votes for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for those currently living illegally in the United States, according to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. The findings show that even as national Republican leaders tout the Senate’s reform measure as a political necessity for the party, it remains a risky vote for individual GOP lawmakers wary of a primary challenger.

Among all adults surveyed, immigration is something of a moot issue: 42 percent of them said a vote either for or against immigration reform would not greatly affect their support for their senator or representative. Thirty-three percent said it would make them less likely to support him or her, and 21 percent said such a vote would make them more likely to back the incumbent.

But among Republicans, the issue elicits much more passion, none of it good for immigration-reform advocates within the GOP. Nearly half, 49 percent, said lawmakers who back a proposal offering a pathway to citizenship will lose their support. Only 15 percent said it would make them more likely to back their incumbent; 30 percent said it would not make a difference in their vote.

The chart tells the whole story:

 

Immigration PollAs the chart shows, the antipathy for a “path to citizenship” is strongest among blue-collar white voters, which in many ways have become one of the most important GOP voting blocs in recent years, but it goes beyond that:

The antipathy runs deepest among the most conservative bloc of voters–blue-collar whites–and in places where many Republicans draw their support, rural areas. Forty-five percent of whites without a college degree said they are less likely to support lawmakers voting for the measure. Just 15 percent said they would be more likely to back them, while 33 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference.

Among rural voters, 45 percent said they’d be less likely to back the incumbent, while 41 percent of them said it wouldn’t make a difference. Just 12 percent said supporting the measure would improve the sitting lawmaker’s chance of drawing their vote.

Looking ahead to a General Election, even Independents tend to oppose the idea, although not nearly as strongly:

Independents side with Republicans on the question, although with less fervency. Thirty-five percent of them said they will be less likely to back a lawmaker who supports comprehensive immigration reform, while only 19 percent said it would make them more likely to support the incumbent. Still, a plurality, 44 percent, said the issue won’t weigh on their decision during next year’s midterms.

The relative lack of interest from Democrats, combined with the GOP-leaning position among independents, creates further disincentive for Republicans, who are unlikely to find much general-election reward for their vote if they survive a primary.

In this poll you have the dilemma that Republican legislators are faced with. If they back a bill that includes a path to citizenship, something that polls show the majority of Americans support, they risk arousing the ire of the people most likely to vote in Republican primaries. This is why it’s unlikely you’re going to see many members of the House or the Senate sticking their neck out on this issue.

 

 

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Campaign 2014, Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    GOP LoL

  2. This helps us see that the myth that the Tea Party was some sort of libertarian force was always just that, a myth. The GOP base wants the government to help Us and hurt Them. There’s no philosophy of governance behind it.

  3. Matt Bernius says:

    If they back a bill that includes a path to citizenship, something that polls show the majority of Americans support, they risk arousing the ire of the people most likely to vote in Republican primaries. This is why it’s unlikely you’re going to see many members of the House or the Senate sticking their neck out on this issue.

    And why, in particular, getting this through the House is going to be especially difficult.

    We are approaching the point where, in the more reddish/purple states, Republican Senators are going to start facing a very different political calculus than House members. Yes, they still have to fend off primary challenges. But I have to think that after two cycles of Republicans losing Senate seats due to the victories of “real Conservatives” in primary elections, a change is going to happen.

    However, House members are far more vulnerable to primary challenges. That’s got to start to split the political calculus.

    The difficult question for Republicans is how does each side manage not to start taking pot shots at each other. Especially as Senators start to play a longer game.

  4. Translation: a bunch of stupid rednecks who can barely spell their name, don’t want the darkies around.

    That’s OK. If I’m a Republican senator, I treat these people the way Obama’s treated liberals: I approve the path to citizenship, and dare them to primary me at the risk of losing a general election. Even Three Tooth Tommy has to recognize that that’s a bad policy eventually.

  5. Sam Malone says:

    The racist party rears it’s ugly head again.
    I await the post about SCOTUS striking down the VRA.

  6. fred says:

    American citizens have to take to the streets again to demand immigration reform and demand reform of the voting rights laws in lieu of SCOTUS ruling today. Americans have to stand up again as Dr King and many brave Americans did for the people to vote and their votes to count. It should be a hot and busy summer in Washington D. C. this year.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Christopher Bowen:

    If I’m a Republican senator, I treat these people the way Obama’s treated liberals: I approve the path to citizenship, and dare them to primary me at the risk of losing a general election.

    The problem with this thinking is that liberals know Mitt Romney would have been worse, that any Republican would be worse, while the GOP base thinks Rubio is just a Hispanic Obama.

    Even Three Tooth Tommy has to recognize that that’s a bad policy eventually.

    No he doesn’t Christopher, hence the theme “We lost the election because our candidate wasn’t conservative enough.”

  8. Sam Malone says:

    As a middle-aged white man with a 97th percentile income…Republicans on the whole disgust me.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    I think the polling data is a little more ambiguous than you’re suggesting, Doug. So, for example, Gallup has found that nearly twice as many people oppose increased immigration as favor it and border security is increasingly important to a considerable proportion of Americans rather than less so. Accepting new immigrants as citizens with conditions and over time is, essentially, a consensus view.

    The devil, however, is in the details of the new immigration bill. It legalizes first rather than securing the border first which doesn’t conform to majority opinion. Since Congress is unable to bind a future Congress, that’s an important factor.

    Note that the above does not characterize my own opinion which I’ve expressed at length both here and at my place.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    The GOP cynically sold its soul to the racists for power. Now they’re losing power thanks to those same voters.

    Karma, baby.

    I love it when the world delivers justice.

  11. Caj says:

    Republicans will moan about illegal immigrants but be more than happy to have them work for them as cheap labour! Companies that back Republicans love the fact they can hire illegals and then carry on as if they are so mad that they are here taking so called American jobs! How many Americans would LOVE to work in intense heat picking fruit or vegetables like those poor people do? Yet they will bang on about their precious jobs being taken away. Those pickers have more work ethic than some citizens who wouldn’t get out of bed to do that backbreaking type of work. So that notion they take way American jobs is a bunch of crap!

  12. stonetools says:

    This poll makes it even more certain that immigration reform is doomed in the House.
    Unless the Democrats regain the majority, there will be no immigration reform and Doug’s appeals to the Republicans to “see reason” will fall on deaf ears.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    and border security is increasingly important to a considerable proportion of Americans rather than less so.

    The general public is uninformed on the issue. People are locked into a narrative right from 2000. The facts say otherwise: there is more border enforcement than in anytime in recent history, illegal immigration is at a 30 year low, and deportations are at historical highs.

  14. Kevin K. says:

    That’s right, according to Democrats (who are in this solely for the new voters) Republicans oppose the Immigration Reform Bill because they are opposed to new citizens. What a crock. Maybe, just maybe, we oppose this bill because it is taking the buying of votes to pass it, will not secure the border and will lead to many new welfare recipients. It is also called for based on fabrications such as that we need more unskilled labor in America. Because there are not enough white people to mow lawns. How fucking racist is that?

    Again, Democrats want this because they believe that this bill will forever secure Democrat dominance in America. And they are right.

  15. Andre Kenji says:

    @al-Ameda:

    The facts say otherwise: there is more border enforcement than in anytime in recent history

    Not only that: Two transnational metropolitan areas in the border(Tijuana-San Diego and Ciudad Juarez-El Paso-Las Cruces) ranks among the top 20 metropolitan areas in the US. In fact, the Tijuana-San Diego Metropolitan Area is larger than San Francisco Metropolitan Area.

    You can´t simply separate a Metropolitan Area with fence.

  16. legion says:

    @Kevin K.:

    according to Democrats (who are in this solely for the new voters)

    Really? Because it was just a few short years ago that a standard piece of GOP Common Knowledge that the Hispanic vote bloc was wide open for turning Red because of their penchant for devout Catholicism and conservative family values (the real kind – not the GOP brand of “God has forgiven me” family values). But it turns out you can treat people badly enough that they won’t vote for you after all.

    No, Democrats support immigration reform because it’s the decent, humane thing to do. Just because you and your party are comprised largely of racist jackholes doesn’t actually mean that everyone else bases their moral decisions on purely mercenary cost-benefit analyses.

  17. Jr says:

    @Kevin K.: Democrats are on pace to dominate the electorate with or without Immigration reform.

    It is your party who needs to support it if they want to stay relevant, not the D’s.

  18. Amos Jones says:

    @michael reynolds:
    With unemployment running around 7+% for almost a decade now, and Black unemployment about twice that, how is it a progressive idea to add millions of immigrants to the labor pool?
    I can see why the upper 1% would not want to endanger their supply of cheap gardeners, nannies and maids, but why would a progressive support this bill?

  19. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Amos Jones: They are already in the labor pool, and mass deportation is a fool’s errand.

  20. Terrye says:

    I think you are wrong here. There are plenty of polls out there showing support for reform among Republicans. Do not confuse talk radio and the blogs with the base. They are not the same thing.

  21. Andre Kenji says:

    @Amos Jones:

    With unemployment running around 7+% for almost a decade now, and Black unemployment about twice that, how is it a progressive idea to add millions of immigrants to the labor pool?

    Immigrants are not plants. They consume, they buy things, so, their demand creates jobs. Besides that, many of them open their own businesses.

    And the United States is not the only country in the World. One could argue that depressing wages for unqualified labor is a feature, not a bug: It´s very difficult to keep factories and farms in the US if wages are ten times higher than in most of the rest of the World.

  22. Console says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I tend to approach it from a different way (i.e. it’s harder to exploit exchange rates and cost of living differences when people can up and move to better countries… capitalists love free movement of capital, but labor for some reason can’t grasp why free movement of labor benefits them in a global economy) but you’ve pretty much framed my thinking on the issue.

  23. @Dave Schuler:

    nearly twice as many people oppose increased immigration as favor it

    So much for the “we’re not anti-immigrant, just anti-illegal immigrant” canard.

  24. @Amos Jones:

    how is it a progressive idea to add millions of immigrants to the labor pool?

    Labor is a economic resource. Can you name any other economic resource where having more of it available makes society as a whole poorer?

  25. CharlesB. says:

    More recent polls show that the majority of Americans DO NOT support “a path to citizenship.”

    In fact, a CNN/ORC Poll released last week says that “more than six in ten Americans say border security rather than a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants should be the bigger priority.”

  26. CharlesB. says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Or, we lost the election because 3 million Republicans and millions of Independents stayed home.

  27. CharlesB. says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Having more of this particular resource does make society, especially certain segments of it, poorer.

    From a Harvard study: “a 10-percent immigrant-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group reduced the Black American man’s wage by 2.5 percent, lowered the employment rate of black men by 5.9 percentage points, and increased the incarceration rate of blacks by 1.3 percentage points.”

    Of course, it’s common knowledge that liberals want to keep Black Americans on the plantation, so these frightening statistics probably please you.