State voters oppose inflow from immigration bill

Most voters don’t like the Senate’e pending immigration bill, and that’s a problem for several senators now under intense pressure to back the controversial measure, according to a new series of likely-voters polls.

The new polls, conducted by Public Opinion Research in seven states represented by swing-voting senators who may decide whether the bill makes the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for cloture, show that majorities in most of those states oppose major features of the bill, which has been portrayed by supporters as a tough but fair compromise.

The polls are counter to many well-publicized polls funded by backers of the immigration bill, who say almost 70 percent of Americans now support a “pathway to citizenship” for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.

The seven polls queried 500 likely voters in each state, and avoided hot-button words such as “amnesty.” They were funded by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which favors reducing immigration and strongly opposes the pending “Gang of Eight” bill.

The same questions were asked of voters in each state, including this top-level question; “If the bill passed, about 12 million current illegal immigrants would become permanent legal residents… The bill would also double the number of new green cards we issue to other people over the next decade, to about 22 million. Do you strongly support … or strongly oppose provisions of the bill that could add 34 million new permanent residents and workers to the United States over ten years?”

The 34 million estimate is close to estimates offered by groups that favor and oppose the immigration bill.

In Arkansas, where Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor will face voters in 2014, 53 percent of respondents said they “strongly oppose” the bill, while only 9 percent “strongly support” the measure.

In Montana, home of Sen. John Tester, 53 percent of voters strongly oppose the bill, while 11 percent strongly support the bill. Tester doesn’t face election for six years, and his fellow Democrat, Sen. Max Baucus, is retiring.

In North Carolina, Republican Sen. Richard Burr is running again in 2016, and Democratic Sen. Kay Hagen faces an election in 2014. Forty-two percent of likely voters strongly oppose the bill while 15 percent strongly support it, according to the FAIR poll.

While that’s less than a majority, opponents of the bill tend to be much more motivated than supporters, making it more likely they will react in 2014 and 2016 to the senators’ immigration votes.

FAIR also sent a warning to GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who could rally GOP senators against the bill. Fifty-four percent of Kentucky’s likely voters said they strongly oppose the bill, while only seven percent strongly support the bill.

McConnell faces election in 2014.

Respondents in Ohio and Louisiana gave similarly negative responses.