The question did include the emotional term “illegal immigrant,” but it did not include the word “amnesty” nor mention the financial cost of accepting the new immigrants.
The CIS poll also measured intensity, which pollsters say is vital for gauging the likely impact of respondents’ views on Election Day.
When the 53 percent of respondents who picked the “go home” option were asked about their intensity, 78 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of moderates and 64 percent of liberals said they hold the “go home” opinion very strongly.
Among the 33 percent of respondents who picked “be given legal status,” the survey showed that 21 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of moderates and 41 percent of liberals hold that view strongly.
When the “prefer” and intensity questions are combined, they showed that 39 percent of respondents strongly endorse the “go home” priority, while only 11 of respondents strongly endorse the “legal status” option.
A mid-January poll of adults funded by AP, by contrast, reported that 35 percent strongly favored — and 23 percent strongly opposed — “providing a legal way for illegal immigrants already in the United States to become U.S. citizens.”
The AP poll also showed a shift since 2009, when only 21 percent strongly favored “a legal way,” while 38 percent strongly opposed.
The term, “a legal way,” is vague, and allows people to say they support the award of citizenship without having to grapple with related questions, such as the number and cost of immigrants.
The various polls show there’s no consensus on immigration, Bolger said.