More Immigration Polling Data

More Immigration Polling Data

FWD.us, Mark Zuckerberg's pro-immigration group, has some new numbers from a survey it commissioned through ten different firms. (There were numerous samples, focusing on Hispanics, the general electorate, Republicans, etc.) RCP intern Christina Breitbeil has a nice writeup, with a pollster's reaction to Eric Cantor's loss, here.

Unlike the PRRI/Brookings survey I wrote about earlier this week, this survey did ask a number of questions about enforcement measures -- specifically, the enforcement measures included in the proposal Congress is considering. The Senate passed an immigration bill last year; many say immigration reform has no chance now that Cantor is gone from the House, but the president disagrees.

Hispanic voters are quite supportive of greater enforcement, and also of the bill's moves toward increasing legal immigration:

The data get pretty weird when it comes to the general electorate, though. Republicans supported the bill as a whole more than Democrats did (81-68), Democrats supported expanding E-Verify as much as Republicans did (Democratic respondents were actually a little more supportive, 85-81, but this is within the margin of error), and there was no partisan gap on the provision granting legal status -- Republicans were for it at 79 percent, Democrats 78 percent. Bizarrely, FWD.us's own data say that, among Republicans, support for deportation instead of legal status or citizenship stands at 29 percent -- suggesting that some Republicans want to deport illegal immigrants, but also support the provision of the bill that would grant legal status. The discrepancy makes me wonder if the poll's description of the legislation -- which puts legalization third in a four-part list (page 43) -- downplays legalization, plays up the enforcement provisions, and primes Republicans to be supportive. 

Another issue with the poll's description of the bill is that there's no sense of scale when it comes to legal immigration. A common criticism of the bill is that it would increase immigration too much -- relative to current law, the bill would increase the number of people residing in the country (legally or illegally) by 10 million over ten years, according to the CBO. That's roughly the size of the current illegal population. 

Also interesting is that PRRI/Brookings and FWD.us offer different pictures of what Americans think about granting citizenship vs. granting legal status without citizenship vs. deporting illegal immigrants. For PRRI/Brookings, the breakdown is 62/19/17, which is in line with what the organizations found in previous surveys. But in the FWD.us survey, both Hispanics (47/41/9) and Americans in general (41/32/22) were much less likely to opt for full citizenship. That could stem from the questions' different wordings, or it could reveal a problem with one of the samples.

The FWD.us survey also provides some data indicating that Hispanics might be more open to voting Republican if Republicans supported immigration reform. This is a pretty controversial topic; some argue that, while there might be some gains to be had this way, Hispanics tend to be liberal for reasons beyond immigration -- and that any GOP boost resulting from immigration reform will be swamped by the effect of increasing the overall size of the Hispanic population.

Of course, immigration policy can sway non-Hispanic votes, too, and the new poll says supporting the bill could help Republicans. Respondents became more likely to say they'd vote for a Republican if that Republican supported the bill. Which, of course, brings us back to the question of whether the respondents understood the bill correctly.

Robert VerBruggen is editor of RealClearPolicy. Twitter: @RAVerBruggen

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